Home > Analysis > Joe Nieuwendyk, Pat Burns Snubbed From Hall Class

Joe Nieuwendyk, Pat Burns Snubbed From Hall Class

Today’s Hall of Fame inductions could have been a great day to celebrate, especially with a few ex-Devils possibly getting the nod. Deserving player Joe Nieuwendyk, who helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 2003, looked to be a near lock. Pat Burns, a fine coach whose battling cancer, seemed to be a lock for the honor.

But when the votes were tallied, the Hall of Fame voters dropped the ball. Both Nieuwendyk and Burns were left out of the hall, leaving two of the most qualified candidates on the sidelines.

The Hall of Fame voters are all esteemed writers and knowledgeable people. They should have seen that these two were the most qualified in their respective categories. Yet, the voters couldn’t come to a consensus on Nieuwendyk, and they completely left out Burns. Taking a look at their credentials, it wasn’t hard to see that the voters dropped the ball on this one.

Joe Nieuwendyk won his third Stanley Cup championship with the Devils in 2003. Photo Credit: Hockey Hall of Fame.

Nieuwendyk’s credential alone put him near the top of this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. In his rookie year with the Calgary Flames, the center scored 51 goals, becoming one of only five rookies to ever accomplish this feat. He also took home the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in the league. In 1989, Nieuwendyk helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup championship, the first of his storied career.

On December 19, 1995, Nieuwendyk was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Dallas Stars. Four years later, Niewendyk clinched his second Stanley Cup championship. He also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy that season. The center was traded to the Devils in 2002, and hoisted his third Stanley Cup one year later.

Instead of recognizing these achievements, the Hall of Fame voters put in Dino Ciccarelli. The former North Stars winger tallied 608 goals, good for 16th all time. But his career is marred with incidents. In 1988, he attacked Maple Leaf defenseman Luke Richardson with a stick, earning him $1,000 fine and one day in jail. A year before that, Ciccarelli pled guilty to indecent exposure. Why a guy who has these ugly incidents can make it to the Hall while a quality player such as Niewendyk I’ll never know.

The same thinking somehow followed for the decision to exclude Burns from this year’s Hall of Fame class. In the “builder” category, the Hall of Fame voters decided to go with longtime Detroit executive Jim Devellano and Daryl “Doc” Seaman. Devellano won three Stanley Cups with the Islanders organization as a scout and assistant general manager in the 1980s, then helped to construct and lead the Detroit Red Wings to their past four Stanley Cup championships. Doc Seaman, a Canadian businessman, became one of six businessman to move the Atlanta Flames to Calgary in 1980. Both were integral to the sport, but none of them were as important as Burns.

Continue reading on for more analysis of the Burns decision.

Burns achieved several milestones in his decorated coaching career. The coach won the Jack Adams award with three different teams – Montreal (1989), Toronto (1993) and Boston (1998). He’s the only coach to win the Adams in his first year, and he’s also the only three-time winner. In his 16 year NHL coaching career, Burns missed only missed the playoffs three times. He won the 2003 Stanley Cup with the Devils, the first of his career.

While Devellano and Seaman are both important figures, Burns stands as one of the great coaches in NHL history. His snub shows the utter failure of this year’s voters. Why would the voters not honor a great coach in failing health? Several players and fans have tried, but the voters are still reluctant.

The voters this season blatantly dropped the ball this year. Instead of electing in deserving players, such as Nieuwendyk, the voters decided to let a checkered player with great stats earn his way into the Hall. Instead of voting in a decorated coach, the Hall decided to go with a lesser known owner in his place. Hopefully, Nieuwendyk and Burns will earn their nominations soon. But for this season, the voters missed an opportunity and dropped the ball.

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  1. June 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm

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