My mother doesn’t watch hockey. If my father and I are watching it on the TV, she’ll go upstairs and watch reruns of Ellen Degeneres. Reruns.
She will admit to knowing one hockey player though: Dino Ciccarelli.
It’s not personal, or a family connection, and it’s not like they dated or anything. She was just the nurse in Emerg one night when Dino Ciccarelli broke his leg playing for the London Knights and got wheeled in on her shift.
The doctors had her drop everything and tend to Dino, to make sure he was comfortable, that his leg was in the best possible situation it could be, and to ensure that Dino was her main priority.
She wasn’t happy about it, but thanks to her, who else can say that their mom tended to a 600-goal, 1200 point, a bona-fide NHL All-Star (4 times: 1982, 1983, 1989, 1997), and a future NHL Hall of Famer.
Wait, he’s been retired since 1999 and he isn’t a Hall of Famer yet?
I mean, he played in 1232 pro games, scored 608 goals, 592 assists, and scratched out 1425 penalty minutes—and he’s not in the Hall of Fame?
Sure, Dino isn’t the only player who’s tallied over 1000 points and isn’t in the Hall of Fame—Dave Taylor, Bobby Smith, Glenn Anderson, Bernie Nicholls, Brian Propp, Steve Larmer, Doug Gilmour, Adam Oates, Phil Housley, Dale Hunter, Brian Bellows, Pat Verbeek, Vincent Damphousse, and Theoren Fleury are all retired players who scored 1000 points—but aside from Pat Verbeek, Ciccarelli is the only player on this list who has more than 500 goals, and he had over 600 during his career.
Meanwhile, there are seventeen players who are in the Hall of Fame that have scored fewer than 500 goals with 1000 or more points. Some of these players (Al MacInnis, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey) made impacts at how their position was played, and it would be unrealistic for them to score 500 goals based on how what position they play, while some were inducted on the sheer strength of their championship numbers.
But whatever the criteria, it has always eluded Ciccarelli.
If it was merely based on Ciccarelli’s point totals however, his exemption could be understandable. However, of all the players to score more than 600 goals in their careers, Dino is the only one that is currently eligible for the Hall of Fame, that hasn’t been inducted.
There are even players with fewer points than Ciccarelli in the Hall of Fame. Take Cam Neely for instance: He defined the power forward role, there’s no doubting that, and because he changed the way the game was played, he should be immortalized.
But, the fact that he is in the Hall of Fame, while Ciccarelli is left out in the cold is something I can’t comprehend. Should a guy who had an injury-shortened career and fewer than 700 points for that career really be inducted before a memeber of the 600-goal club?
So what’s keeping Ciccarelli out? Is it his attitude? Is it his off-ice record in which he was once given probation because of an indecent exposure charge? Is it the fact that he once attacked another player with a hockey stick during a game, and received a day in jail?
If we’re going to make those arguments, then there are a few players in the Hall of Fame who have had their share of run-ins with the NHL and even the law.
Sure Bobby Clarke was named to the Hall of Fame in 1987 because he won two Stanley Cups, three MVP awards, was a multiple-time All-Star and award winner, and was one of the most prolific scorers in league history at the time of his retirement.
However, didn’t Bobby Clarke also display some questionable tactics throughout his career? Weren’t there points in time at which he was considered a dirty player too?
The point? Just because they’re in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t mean that they were an angel.
Besides, the Hall of Fame, in any sport, is meant for fans to relive the most memorable moments of some of the greatest performers of All-Time. Dino Ciccarelli is one of seventeen players to ever score 600 goals.
Last time I checked, that’s pretty impressive.
The NHL needs to get over itself and realize that it’s got bigger problems than letting a guy into the Hall of Fame that got into trouble a time or two. Maybe it should be concerned about its dying markets, instead of expansion.
And who knows, maybe if Ciccarelli got some recognition then Florida and Tampa Bay would take notice and say “he was one of us”. I mean it’s worth a shot—there’s nothing else to lose.
All I know is that whoever said “Nice guys finish last” is a fool. Just look at Dino Ciccarelli.