Tonight, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. All of them had admirable playing careers, and deserve their play among hockey's immortals, but there are more guys who people are excited about getting into the Hall of Fame eventually. Here's a preview of who might be Hall of Fame bound soon.
Richard Matvichuk - Not only did he win a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, but he was also Lou Lamoriello's salary cap relief when the Devils buried him in the minors in 2007. Players who are involved with the Devils' salary cap problems are usually star players.
Trevor Linden - Sure, he's known as one of the great Canucks of all-time, but Linden was more than just goal scoring for Vancouver: he almost made the yellow and black "V" jerseys enjoyable to watch on the ice. The key word there is "almost."
Derian Hatcher - He would have been the greatest NHL bad boy to have never played for the Flyers, but the Flyers made sure that didn't happen, so they signed him late in his career.
Pat Burns - He obviously wouldn't go in as a player, but Scott Stevens is prepared to knock out a voter who doesn't vote Burns into the Hall of Fame, and he's also prepared to say "You're next" to any other voter who isn't convinced after that.
Brendan Shanahan - He's not eligible for the Hall of Fame yet, but he's pretty sure he can pull some strings with the NHL to change that.
Wayne Gretzky - Even though he's in the Hall of Fame, some people think he should go in again since he put up so many more points than anyone else.
Dave Andreychuk - Following his retirement as a player, he was named "Vice-President in charge of fans." It's too bad the Vancouver Canucks don't have someone like that. He would be been quite useful last June.
Peter Forsberg - Many people think Forsberg will eventually get into the Hall of Fame, but others are worried that he might injure himself on his way to Toronto.
Nicklas Lidstrom - He'll get into the Hall of Fame someday, barring he ever actually retires.
Eric Lindros - He's one of many NHL veterans who ended up with the Rangers late in his career, and most of them are Hall of Fame bound.
Adam Oates - Only three players in NHL history have reached 100 assists in a single season, and Oates wasn't one of them. He did come close on many occasions and has won the most of playoff games of any player to never win a Stanley Cup. If he doesn't get into the Hall of Fame, perhaps it's because he coaches the Devils power play...
Jaromir Jagr - He's almost Hall of Fame eligible, since he hasn't played in......oh, he's back in the NHL?
Dominek Hasek - Assuming he doesn't return to the NHL, he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. After all, the NHL does love those guys who helped lower scoring throughout the league.
Claude Lemieux - His four Stanley Cups and clutch goal scoring could get him inducted into the Hall of Fame someday, unless the voting panel is made up entirely of Red Wings fans.
Pavel Bure - While he never won a Stanley Cup (which makes sense when you consider he played for Vancouver, Florida and the NY Rangers), he did help the Florida Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Finals, which is as remarkable as Roberto Luongo winning a playoff game at the United Center.
Alexander Mogilny - He's hockey's original Alexander the Great, but also the last Russian superstar winger traded to New Jersey that had a great deal of success.