TORONTO -- It is time for some repair work at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
That is the theme for the class of 2011 if all goes well here Tuesday, when the Hall's 18-member selection committee meets to debate and ultimately select November's new members.
"Repair" as in make things right for a few players who have been passed over in recent years, because this is the committee's last chance for a while to get some of these players in before a new wave of slam-dunk candidates come. (Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan are a few of the players who will become eligible in the next two years.)
Ed Belfour is the most notable first-year eligible player in 2011. Third all-time in goalie wins, if Belfour doesn't make it Tuesday, he should eventually get in.
The selection committee can elect up to four male players. Here's hoping they maximize this window by taking four players who should have been inducted before this year. It's worth noting that Hall of Famer Igor Larionov is a new member on the committee this year.
For starters, Joe Nieuwendyk should have been an automatic entry in 2010, his first year of eligibility. Surely he'll get in Tuesday, one hopes. And why not get Doug Gilmour in with his former teammate? The two players were instrumental in bringing the one and only Stanley Cup to Calgary in 1989.
"They both had great careers," Hall of Famer Cliff Fletcher, GM of that '89 Flames squad, told ESPN.com Monday. "Nieu has won three Stanley Cups with three different teams, and he had a great run when we were together with the Flames. Doug was a key player when we won the Cup in '89 in Calgary. And the first two and a half years he was here in Toronto from January 1992 onwards, he carried the team on his back and almost by himself. All I can say is that I hope they both get serious consideration."
Nieuwendyk scored 564 goals among his 1,126 points, but those statistics tell only part of the story of a clutch player who raised his game come playoff time and won Cups with Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey.
Gilmour somehow isn't in the Hall despite 1,414 career points. What really nails the argument for us is Gilmour's 188 career playoff points, tied with Sakic for seventh all-time in NHL history. How is this guy not in the Hall?
Adam Oates also deserves serious consideration; his 1,420 career points are the highest of any eligible player not yet in the Hall. And what of Dave Andreychuk's 640 career goals, 13th all-time in NHL history?
Bure was the most electrifying goal scorer on the planet in his heyday. Yes, a serious of knee injuries limited the duration of his greatness, but you can't tell us there was a more dynamic goal scorer in the NHL than the Russian Rocket, especially when he put together back-to-back 60-goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94 with the Vancouver Canucks.
Last year, the Hall inducted the first women in the player's category (Cammi Granato and Angela James); up to two women can be elected every year, and not at the expense of the four maximum male players who also can be selected.
Having said that, it's not a guarantee that more women will be inducted Tuesday; it's not expected to be an annual rite. If we had our way, however, former Canadian superstar blueliner Geraldine Heaney would be selected this year. The Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion was known as the Bobby Orr of female hockey during her heyday. In 2008, Heaney joined Granato and James as the first female players inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame.