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Will Former Penguins Gonchar Or Barrasso Get Call From Hall of Fame?



Pittsburgh Penguins Sergei Gonchar Hockey Hall of Fame

The Pittsburgh Penguins have two players who are locks to end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame when their playing days are over, and at least one other who figures to get serious consideration once he becomes eligible.

But even though Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin probably could have constructed their induction speeches year ago, and while it’s hardly out of the question that Kris Letang might have to write one someday, too, they won’t enter the Hall for at least several more years, since players have to be retired for at least three years to be eligible.

A couple of guys who won Stanley Cups here might not have to wait nearly that long to find out if there’s a spot for them in the Hall.

The Class of 2023 will be announced Wednesday afternoon, and it’s conceivable that Sergei Gonchar and/or Tom Barrasso will be part of it.

Both appear to be relative long shots, with Gonchar probably having the better chance of being selected.

He had 220 goals and 591 assists in 1,301 NHL games; those 811 points are good for 17th place on the all-time scoring list for defensemen. Gonchar put up 50 or more points no fewer than nine times.

Barrasso won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1983-84, while playing in Buffalo, and won championships with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He had 369 victories and 38 shutouts in 777 appearances in the NHL.

Barring news that one or both will be inducted, precisely how much consideration Gonchar or Barrasso will have received likely never will be known, since the 18-member selection committee does not publicly divulge details of its deliberations.

The committee is a mix of retired players, current and former hockey executives and three media members who have received the Elmer Ferguson Award from the Hall. Four current committee members were associated with the Pittsburgh Penguins at some point in their career; they are Brian Burke, Ron Francis, Pierre McGuire and Luc Robitaille.

Only members of the committee can nominate candidates for induction and a candidate must be approved by at least 75 percent of the committee to be recognized as an “Honoured Member” of the class.

Former New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose resume does not include a Stanley Cup, is eligible for the first time and is expected to get strong consideration. There also seems to be support for a couple of other guys who did, goalie Corey Crawford and forward Justin Williams.

A few NHL vets who have been passed over previously, like Alexander Mogilny, Sergei Fedorov, Patrik Elias and Henrik Zetterberg, might get a good look this time, too.

What’s more, a number of women who played internationally, including Canada’s Jennifer Botterill (sister of former Penguins associate GM Jason Botterill) and Karyn Byte-Dietz of the U.S. are viewed as serious contenders.

Fourteen former Pittsburgh Penguins players — Andy Bathgate, Leo Boivin, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Tim Horton, Marian Hossa, Jarome Iginla, Mario Lemieux, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Mark Recchi, Luc Robitaille, Bryan Trottier and Sergei Zubov — are among the Hall’s Honoured Members.

Five men with Penguins ties — Bob Johnson, Craig Patrick, Jim Rutherford, Scotty Bowman and Herb Brooks — are in the Hall as Builders.

A sixth, Glen Sather, also has been inducted as a Builder, but while he played for the Penguins, he never was a member of their front office or coaching staff. Conversely, Red Kelly, who coached the Penguins for three-plus seasons, was inducted, but it was for his accomplishments as a player.