With a couple questionable inductions in recent years, many were starting to question their selections. This year, however, their list of inductees was a no-brainer by any stretch of the imagination!
In the player's category you have two centremen in Mark Messier and Ron Francis, and two defensemen in Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis. In the builders category, there is HHOF chairman Jim Gregory.
Mark "the Moose" Messier is forever known as one of the all time great leaders of the game. He was a go to guy in every situation and has lead two different teams to Stanley Cup glory (Edmonton and New York Rangers). His career highlights include 6 Stanley Cup rings, 694 goals, 1193 assists, 1887 points, 1910 PIMS, 1 Conn Smythe trophy, 2 Lester B. Pearson Trophies, 2 Hart Memorial trophies, etc. etc. etc. He is one of only 2 players to ever surpass Mr. Hockey (Gordiw Howe)'s magical points total, and is currently sitting comfortable in the number 2 all time in points behind his former teammate in Edmonton and New York, Wayne Gretzky.
Ron Francis, the face of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise, played 25 years in the NHL with 1798 points (4th all time) and 549 goals. Forever a quiet leader, and a underrated player by many, Francis managed to quietly pass his way into 4th all time on the career regular season NHL points list—an accolade that very few knew before reading this article. Being over shadowed in his stay in Pittsburgh playing along the likes of Lemiuex and Jagr (the highest scoring duo ever) can do such a thing like that. However, Ron was instrumental in the Penguins two Stanley Cups, and a decade later when he helped out the Carolina Hurricanes pull in their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Al MacInnis had a blistering slapshot that drove fear into opposing goaltenders and anyone who got in the way of his shots. One of a select few of defensemen to ever tally 1200 or more points, MacInnis was a dominant force from the blueline from the beginning to the end of his career, which was cut short due to injuries. He received of the James Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy the same year he helped the Calgary Flames clinch the Stanley Cup in 1989. Even though he lacked a large physical presence he was definitely feared as if he had been a 6-foot-8 monster. His shot has been known to split the mask of opposing goaltenders (Mike Luit 1984) and even pierce the boards. Yes that is correct—he broke the mask of Mike Luit, and the puck even rolled into the net. He also slapped the puck through the first section of the boards after ringing a slapshot off the outside of a post (2001 pre-game warm-up).
Scott Stevens was known around the league as a dominant, physical defenseman, with a check that can knock you out cold. On many occasions (just as Ron Francis, or Eric Lindros), Stevens has caught a player with his head down carrying the puck up the ice. He is a stay at home defenseman who can change the course of the play, a game, a career (again just ask Lindros), and shorten many a lifespan. When you think of a body check, you think back to Lindros carrying the puck with his head down. Then a solid check by Stevens sends Lindros down to the ice, bleeding badly from his head. A clean check by those standards! Never known for being an offensive defensemen, he was able to mustar out just over 900 points in his great career. A 3-time Stanley Cup champion and a Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2000 with the Devils, it is no wonder that the Devils really miss him on the ice (although I'm sure that the rest of the league gave a sigh of relief when he retired!).
Jim Gregory was a man with many different job titles in hockey. Whether it was trainer, scout, Coach, General Manager, Director of Central Scouting, or his current title of Vice President of Hockey Operations (for the NHL), Jim is the man for the job. He has coached junior teams to Memorial Cup championships. He has assisted coaches like Punch Imlach and eventually taken over their position as Head Coach. He remolded the Maple Leafs in the 70's, and was one of the first to put a lot of effort into the NHL's European movement. While being the VP of Hockey Operations, he has implemented many improvements to the game, including most recently the Video Goal Review.
A personal note here: Not that I have anything against any of the inductees this year—they all deserve to get in. BUT, since when does scoring more then 600 goals not guarantee a spot in the Hall? Dino Ciccarelli should be inducted in the Hall soon! He has waited long enough and I don't care what their reasons are for not inducting him—600 goals is more then enough to get in!