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Sorry, Sarge: Gonchar Bypassed, Iginla and Hossa Selected

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Pittsburgh Penguins Sergei Gonchar Hockey Hall of Fame
Sergei Gonchar: Photo by Michael Miller

On Wednesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced their newest members in a TV event broadcast live on sports networks in the U.S. and Canada. After a few years of waiting, former Pittsburgh Penguins (and Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators) defenseman Sergei Gonchar will have to wait at least another year. Instead, a pair of defensemen who have been waiting a long time, and slam dunk picks Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are the 2020 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Instead of Gonchar, the selection committee chose defensemen, Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe. Wilson retired in 1993 after scoring 830 points (237g, 590a) in 1024 games with Chicago and San Jose. Wilson won the 1982 Norris Trophy.

Lowe also waited for decades to get the call. Lowe spent the first 13 years of his career with Edmonton. After a four-year stint with the New York Rangers, Lowe played two more seasons with Edmonton and retired in 1999. He won six Stanley Cups; he won five in Edmonton and was a part of the 1994 New York Rangers victory with fellow former Oilers captain, Mark Messier.

Lowe was not an offensive defenseman. He scored only 431 points (84g, 347a) in 1254 games, but still played in seven All-Star games.

Long-time Detroit Red Wings GM and current Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland followed 2019 inductee Penguins GM Jim Rutherford in the Builders Category.

According to the HHOF, the class will be inducted, likely sometime in November, pending COVID-19 restrictions. The Hall of Fame will decide on the ceremony date in mid-August.

Gonchar’s Career…

Hall of Fame GM Craig Patrick signed Gonchar as a free agent following the 2004-05 lockout. The highly sought after Gonchar was a perennial Norris Trophy contender. In nine-plus seasons with Washington, Gonchar finished in the top five of Norris voting three times. He finished in the top 10 four more times.

Gonchar, and a rookie Sidney Crosby, became the bright spots for the Penguins in 2005-06. Gonchar led the Penguins defenders for five seasons, including the 2008 Eastern Conference Championship and the 2009 Stanley Cup victory. In 322 games with the Penguins, Gonchar scored 259 points (54 goals, 205a). His Pittsburgh years were statistically his best as he averaged .8 points per game.

Gonchar finished fourth in the 2008 Norris Trophy voting and seventh in 2007.

Gonchar played five more NHL seasons after his Penguins tenure and amassed 811 career points in 1302 games (220g, 591a). He tried to make a comeback with the Penguins in 2015. He signed a tryout contract with the Penguins for training camp but instead earned a job as a development coach. Gonchar was named a Penguins assistant coach in 2017.

The Hockey Hall of Fame induction phone calls are made by former Calgary Flames defenseman and current chairman of the board of the HHOF directors, Lanny MacDonald. Typically the 18-member selection committee meets at the Hall of Fame in Toronto, but this season only a few members met in person. The rest joined via video chat because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jarome Iginla was a lock to be selected. The long-time captain of the Calgary Flames was a premier power forward was a six-time All-Star, one Art Ross, and tow Rocket Richard awards. Iginla also assisted on Sidney Crosby’s golden goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“That was awesome to get to be a part of the Olympics and the experience,” Iginla told TSN after the announcement. “That was a fairy book for us as players. There’s a lot riding on it for us players … we knew if we didn’t win it, we’d regret that for the rest of our lives.”

Marian Hossa cemented his HHOF credentials by winning three Stanley Cups in his final eight seasons, all with the Chicago Blackhawks. Hossa scored 1137 points (529g, 609a) in his career with Ottawa, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago.

Female inductee Kim St. Pierre was a standout goalie for Team Canada. She was the starter in 2002 and 2004. St. Pierre holds international competition records for most shutouts (15), most wins (24), and the lowest GAA (0.84). She also won a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and tended goal during a Montreal Canadiens practice. St. Pierre retired in April 2013.

Other snubs included Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk, who each scored over 1000 points in their career. Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was also bypassed.

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