Leafs Fans Robbed Of Memorable ’93 Reunion


Now, I for one dislike the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” debate when it comes to the National Hockey League Hockey Hall Of Fame.  After all, I think it somewhat demeans and disregards the accomplishments of those who are selected, and that simply isn’t right.

No one knows better than I do how much Dino Ciccarelli deserves the call to the Hall.  I have been telling more or less anyone who will listen for a number of years that I thought he belonged.  I couldn’t be happier for  Angela James and Cammi Granato, the first female players to be enshrined.  And Jim Devellano and Daryl “Doc” Seamen are both incredibly intelligent men who deserve their spot along hockey’s greatest.

But as a Leafs fan, it’s hard not to feel selfishly snubbed once again.  With yesterday’s vote for the Hall of Fame here and gone for another year, the only thing I could think of wasn’t what was, but what could have been.

And what could have been would have been really special.

For every player chosen to be inducted into the hallow halls of rich hockey history located in downtown Toronto, there are those who are on the outside looking in.  For some, Ciccarelli’s case could serve for inspiration.  For others, they know their time is drawing near, and they may not be able to afford the luxury of waiting as long as Dino did.

And Leafs fans, and fans around the world, lost out on the chance to see something really special in early November.

Doug GIlmour, who has been up for induction for a few years now, was once again left out, and while I for one am happy for a guy like Ciccarelli, one could see where sour grapes start to trickle in from Leafs Nation.

Gilmour, after all, had 214 more points over his career than Ciccarelli did.  With the two playing similar, gritty styles, many believe the case should have been made for Gilmour over Ciccarelli.

Many now believe, however, with Ciccarelli and his long waiting period out of the way, perhaps Gilmour is the next of his kind to pay his dues, sit on eligibility for a few years, and then finally get the deserved call.

Pat Burns, on the other hand, is a little different.

The three time Jack Adams coach of the year winner and one of the most popular coaches in NHL history, Burns is fighting for his life, a fight those around him conceded recently that he was losing.

After announcing he was battling cancer for the third time of his life, Burns admitted he was forgoing further treatment.  Since then, a large push has been made throughout the hockey world, beginning with a Facebook campaign, to get the former Leafs bench boss, into the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

Burns’ exclusion after yesterday’s nominees were revealed sent shock waves through the hockey community.  A very well liked and respected person in the world of hockey, there were many who thought-given his condition-that Burns was a lock for enshrinement.

And as a Leafs fan, one can’t selfishly think of what might have been at the annual Hall of Fame game, held in Toronto every year in early November.

I had the fortune of being in attendance at last year’s Hall of Fame game where the Leafs defeated the Red Wings, and MLSE, for their faults, certainly knows how to put on a show, and the Hall of Fame weekend is no different.

It was awe-inspiring enough to see Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and company stride out onto the ice and receive ovations.

With a few weeks before the Hall Of Fame inductions, I couldn’t help but begin to daydream what the Air Canada Centre might look like if both Pat Burns and Douggie Gilmour were induced into the Hall of Fame in the same year, and the scene that would have resulted as the two of them stood together on the ice at the Air Canada Centre.

What could have been.  Will we ever know?

At least we have this.  We’ll always have this.  For better of worse.