Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Late Is Always Better Than Never

In what seems like an announcement that should have been made over a decade ago, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced today that they are re-writing their by-laws in order to allow women to gain admission into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Again, I'm surprised that an institution like the Hockey Hall of Fame has taken this long to allow women to be voted in alongside the men, but, as the title suggests, late is always better than never when it comes to honouring the greats who have laced up the skates, no matter what gender they represent. With the Hockey Hall of Fame's announcement today, it appears that women's hockey is being recognized for its growth, and the ability of the women who have made the game what it is today.

As the rules stand today, both women and men were eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there was no way to divide the women from the men when it came to the four Hall of Fame nominations. With today's announcement, the Hall will recognize the women separately from the men, and provide them with two spots specifically for women each year alongside the four spots for the men.

"The new voting procedures address the basic principle and general view among the board of directors and selection committee that men and women ought not to compete directly against each other for limited places of honoured membership," Hall chairman Bill Hay said in a statement. "It creates fair conditions for all candidates while reinforcing that the existing basis for selection and requisite standards of excellence be applied equally to both genders."

This, to me, is phenomenal news, considering how I blasted the Hall of Fame in July 2007 for their apparent stone-age mentality in regards to the women's game and their contributions to hockey overall. There will be places for the women who have proven instrumental in the growth and development of the game of hockey, as well as those women who have made enormous contributions on the ice.

Now, there will be a large number up for consideration, so if I were in charge of the first year of voting, I'd put out a few stipulations:

  1. Women who are currently playing are not eligible in this inaugural year only. The reason is that these women are still writing chapters into their legacies, and they should be allowed to continue down their paths before the final chapter is written.
  2. Unlike the men, where stats and awards seem to matter, women can be voted in for their off-ice contributions as much as any on-ice contributions. Women's hockey really took off in the 1990s, but all the women before that period of time cannot be forgotten. They are what gave us the great women's game today.
  3. Teams are ineligible. It is the Hockey Hall of Fame for individuals, and only individuals can be voted in.
Ok, with those stipulations in mind, here are the two women with whom I'd start building the Women's Wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Colleen Howe: I wrote a long piece on Mrs. Howe's contribution to the game of hockey throughout the United States, but her legacy lives on through all the people she touched and helped to change their lives through her charitable work and generosity. Mrs. Howe is already a part of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. It's time she be alongside the men with the greatest honour one can receive in the game.

Hilda Ranscombe: Miss Ranscombe was a part of one of the most dominant teams in sports history in the Preston Rivulettes. The Rivulettes dominated Canadian women's hockey throughout the 1930s, amassing a remarkable 350-2-3 record over a 10-year period. Ranscombe was the star of the Rivulettes, and was compared to the Montreal Canadiens' star Howie Morenz for her scoring ability. The linked post has an excellent video clip attached to it, and I recommend checking it out.

There are a load of other players who could be considered for the first wave of women inducted to the Hall of Fame. The list of women who should be considered in coming years is considerable: Cammi Granato, Cassie Campbell, Manon Rheaume, Elizabeth Graham, Abby Hoffman, Hazel McCallion, Fran Rider, Bobbie Rosenfeld, Shirley Cameron, Justine Blainey - honestly, the list is as subjective as your favorite NHL player.

However, that's a great sign. That means the game is growing, the talent level is increasing, and the overall number of excellent women's hockey players is on the rise. While this change should have happened long ago for a sport that relies on women more than they seem to want to acknowledge, I'm glad that the women who have committed their lives to this game are going to be recognized for all that they do.

After all, it's better late than never, right?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Tony said...

Geez I never knew they weren't allowed in the first place! Huh. The things you learn reading this blog.

Sage Confucius said...

I believe this is a huge step for women in the hockey world. Certainly it is long overdue. I am looking forward to seeing who the first class will include.