Congratulations to the Hockey Hall of Fame's selection class of 2015: Chris Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley, Peter Karmonos and Bill Hay. All of these men are worthy inductees.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, when Pronger was a young player with the Hartford Whalers he was nicknamed Cornflakes. The late Brad McCrimmon and I teased the rookie about being a 6-foot-5 guy whose skates looked like they were for a kid. We marveled at how such a big person could have such small feet.
Brad continued, "Ever see the way he passes the puck? It's like the way cornflakes come out of the box. All sorts of fluttery."
From then on, when I would see Pronger I'd say, "How's it goin', Cornflakes?"
There aren't too many people who could get away with calling the famously truculent defenseman by the nickname Cornflakes. Brad the Beast was one. I was another. Nowadays, though, I'd rather just shake his hand for his Hall of Fame career.
Let me also say this: Kerry Fraser should be a slam-dunk candidate for the Hall of Fame He was an excellent referee. Fraser was perhaps the best skating referee of his era, for one thing, and had a good feel for the game. Fraser worked over 1,900 regular season games, 261 playoff games and 13 Stanley Cup Finals after joining the league in 1980.
But Fraser has no shot at the Hall of Fame as long as Colin Campbell is involved in the process. Like me, the only way Fraser would get into the Hall is to buy a ticket. In other words: it isn't happening for my well-coiffed colleague any time soon. Honestly, it reflects worse on the politics of the selection committee than it does on Kerry's stellar career.
Lastly, from a strictly objective standpoint based on career merits, I will add that I think Mark Recchi belongs in the Hall and his selection is already overdue. Anyone who plays over 1,650 games in the NHL, scores 577 goals and logs 1,533 points with multiple 100-point seasons, three Stanley Cup rings and various All-Star Game honors over the years should be a no-brainer pick. Eventually, Recchi will get in.
******** Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.
Today, Stewart is an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials. Stewart also maintains a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.