DETROIT – Brendan Shanahan seemed like a definite lock for the 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class.
Whatever the politics were in selecting the class, the former Red Wings’ forward wasn’t among the foursome as Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin made the final cut.
Shanahan had better statistics than the 2012 class. He won three Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings and an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada. Sakic is the only other one to win the Cup, doing so twice with Colorado. Shanahan is among eight Canadians to gain entry into the Triple Gold Club having won a World Championship, Olympics and a Stanley Cup.
On Tuesday, the Hall of Fame election committee will meet to determinte the 2013 class of inductees. Whether Shanahan, who since retiring as a player has worked in the NHL office as the league's vice president of hockey and business operations, is among the names called is anybody’s guess.
“Chris Chelios for me is a slam dunk as a first-time (eligible) hall-of-famer,” he said. “I have to believe that Shanahan is going it. It was obviously a tremendous class last year. But he has hall of fame numbers too. So hopefully July 9 is a great day for former Red Wings.”
Holland remembers the notoriety that the Red Wings received a decade ago when they compiled a lineup laden with extraordinary talent. And that was before the assembled group won the 2002 Stanley Cup.
“We said at the time that half of the team in 2002 was going to go into the Hall of Fame, and there are more coming,” Holland said.
On Tuesday, Shanahan and Chelios could be the fifth and sixth members of that spectacular lineup to learn that they’ve received passage into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining teammates Igor Larionov, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robatialle who’ve already been enshrined.
The enshrinement will take place on Nov. 11 in Toronto. The 2013 class will be the fifth time in six years that the Wings’ organization has been represented at the enshrinement ceremony. Mark Howe was inducted in 2011, and senior vice president Jim Devellano and former forward Dino Ciccarelli were in the class of 2010.
Shanahan played 21 NHL seasons with five different clubs, including a nine-year stint with the Wings, which resulting in him becoming a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
Along with other acquisitions of the late 90s – like Larionov, Larry Murphy and Kirk Maltby, to name just a few – Shanahan was a perfect fit for a franchise seeking to win its first Cup in more than 40 years. A big power forward, Shanahan added a good mix with a tremendous scoring touch and someone who wasn’t afraid to mix it up.
“He could score and he was tough and of his era, there wasn’t a lot of guys who could score 40 goals and also drop the gloves and fight with the heavyweights in the National Hockey League,” Holland said. “He was hard, he could score big goals, he could fight, he was a big time power forward.”
He led the Wings in goals in four consecutive seasons (1996-2000) and his 109 career game-winners still ranks fourth in league history behind Phil Esposito (118), Jaromir Jagr (114) and Hull (110).
He’s also the only player in league history to record 600-or-more regular-season goals and 2,000-or-more penalty minutes.
“He was one of the final pieces that we needed to get over the top,” Holland said of Shanahan. “We had a talented team in the early 90s once we had Vladimir Konstantinov and Nicklas Lidstrom on the back end with Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman with the obvious nucleus up front. We needed to go through some growing pains, Scotty made some tweaks but ultimately the moves that were made with Brendan Shanahan, Larionov and Slava Fetisov – as I look back – were probably the final pieces to the puzzle to us winning the Stanley Cup in 1997.”
Shanahan finished his playing career with the New Jersey Devils, the franchise that made him a first-round draft pick (second overall) in 1987. He’s now the NHL’s head disciplinarian where he continued to earn the respect and admiration from around the league.
“He took an interest in the league so it was probably a natural,” Holland said. “He has a passion and to accomplish what he did in his career – not only was he talented but he had a tremendous amount of passion – and he’s brought that same passion to the front office in New York. He has a lot of respect for the way he played the game and for what he accomplished.”
In the years to come, Red Wings’ fans can certainly expect to see at least five more members of the ’02 team to head to hockey immortality beginning with Chris Chelios who will be eligible for the 2013 class. He’ll be followed by Fedorov, Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek and Pavel Datsyuk.
“Certainly going up to Toronto every year,” Holland said, “you really reflect back on what an incredible time the late 90s and the early 2000s were in Red Wings hockey history.”
Other Shanahan accomplishments:
He became the second Red Wings’ player to record back-to-back hat tricks, doing so on Feb. 12, 1997. Vaclav Nedomansky was the first Wing to do it in 1979.
Shanahan recorded his 600th career point, which happened to be his first point as a Red Wing, on October 12, 1996 at Buffalo.
He led Detroit in penalty-minutes in 2003-04 with 117. No Red Wings’ player since has had as many.
Shanahan is one of three players to score 50-or-more goals in a season for the St. Louis Blues. The others are Wayne Babych and Brett Hull.
Shanahan had 19 consecutive seasons of 20-or-more goals.
He scored 30-or-more goals on nine different occasions.
Shanahan is one of six players to win an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup in the same year. The others are Ken Morrow (1980), Yzerman (2002), and Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrooke (2010).
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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