52413Changes at the HHOF
- Apr 1, 2009From today's Toronto Star:
In my mind this is a good move.
A woman's place is in the Hockey Hall of Fame
Apr 01, 2009 04:30 AM
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In the end, it was a compromise.
There have always been those who believed that comparing the stars of men's professional hockey to the greatest players in the women's game was too difficult, too unwieldy and simply pointless.
Maybe they were right. Given the different developmental stages of the men's game versus the women's, comparing Hayley Wickenheiser to Alex Ovechkin is like comparing Tris Speaker to Derek Jeter.
So after dithering for a long time, probably too long, the Hockey Hall of Fame settled on a compromise.
Starting next year, they'll still enshrine four men every year, but they'll also enshrine up to two women.
Not perfect. There will be those who argue that this still doesn't pay due respect to the women's game because, in effect, it makes them second-class citizens in the hall, admitted in a separate category from "real" players.
There's some truth to that.
But there were also those in the game who believed that women should never be voted in, or that if they ever were, it should be as builders.
You know, with a nice pat on the head and a Participaction badge.
That would have been nearly as disgraceful as excluding women altogether.
So, starting in 2010, the hall won't make itself choose between NHL superstars and the top women's players.
For 2009, to illustrate how difficult it would be to do so, the likes of Cammi Granato or Angela James would have had to compete for one of the four Honoured Member slots against former NHL luminaries Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch, Doug Gilmour, Dino Ciccarelli and Brett Hull.
That was a fight they were never going to win.
Instead, we know the first two women will be inducted next year - you'd think the big brains at the HHOF would sense the need for a female on the prestigious selection committee to help out in this process, but they don't - and that will be a very, very good day for women's hockey and the sport itself.
So, a toast to the women who have waited for too long for this to happen. On her civic rounds, Hazel McCallion should be feeling wonderful about the sport she helped pioneer before becoming Her Worship. She'll be joined in that by a lot of other women.
It's not clear why this happened now, although it had to be embarrassing to the Hall of Fame last year when the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Granato, and the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame enshrined James, Granato and Geraldine Heaney.
When those two august bodies opened their doors to women, it made the Toronto-based HHOF look like it was been run by a bunch of rubes, good old boys with a secret handshake and no accountability to the game beyond keeping their pals happy.
All of which, to some degree, has always been the case. The Hockey Hall of Fame, for example, did once upon a time honour the likes of Harold Ballard, inducted Bob Pulford as a viable player, let Gil Stein gerrymander his way in and probably still doesn't have enough European players on the big board as Honoured Members.
But the movement to relent and allow women in started a couple of years ago, and finally public momentum was simply too strong for the HHOF to resist.
They probably won't tell you that. They'll insist they were just taking their time getting the process fine-tuned.
Whatever. It no longer matters.
There is now a degree of fairness in hockey's greatest institution that didn't exist last week, and that's meaningful in a sport that has great difficulty at times with the concept of evolution.
With yesterday's announcement, some will say, "It's about time."
Here, it's simply, "Congratulations and well done."
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