Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Let's Hear It For The Girls!

There were a lot of interesting developments today in hockey as the San Jose Sharks basically gave long-time Shark goaltender Evgeni Nabokov his walking papers, while the Boston Bruins dealt an underwhelming Dennis Wideman and the fifteenth overall pick in this year's draft to Florida for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. But that's not why I'm here today. Sure, the Sharks got a little worse, the Bruins got a little better, and the Panthers are apparently giving Horton what he wants. Instead, it's time to give credit where credit is due on this blog, and I'm looking directly at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hockey Hall of Fame has pushed aside amateur and international players for the sexier option of NHL players that bring notoriety. There are many NHL players deserving of the honour of being in the Hockey Hall of Fame without doubt. But there are a large number of players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame who have not suited up in the NHL, and it appears that the Hockey Hall of Fame is finally changing its tune towards one group of individuals. Especially when its home page states that it is "[h]ome to hockey's greatest players".

Let's go back to July of 2007 where I blasted the Hockey Hall of Fame regarding their lack of recognition given to the phenomenal female players on planet today. Some of these women are trailblazers in their building of their countries' respective programs, and deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame not only for their playing abilities, but their leadership, courage, and dedication to the sport of hockey.

Looking forward, it was announced in March of 2009 that women, for the first time in the Hockey Hall of Fame's history, would be eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Thanks to the Hall of Fame's wisdom, two women will be eligible for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame per year from this year forward. The women's game, thought to be at risk in future Olympic years, should point to this day as the first day where women's hockey is given the same respect as the men's game.

There are literally dozens of women players who deserve to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the two women voted into the Hall of Fame today are extremely well-known in North America for their efforts in growing the women's game within their respective countries of birth as well as on the international stage. Canada's Angela James and USA's Cammi Granato will be the first women to have their faces molded in bronze and hung alongside the many men voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before them.

While the Hockey Hall of Fame has always maintained that women have always been eligible, it was nearly impossible for their careers to be compared to the men who played in the NHL. As a hockey fan, it makes me proud that the women's game is getting equal billing after decades of living in the shadow of men's hockey.

However, not everyone shares this sentiment. The comments on the TSN website are absolutely disgusting and highly misogynistic in their nature. Overlooking the spelling and grammar mistakes, you would think that these people are from the 1800s where women couldn't vote or own property.

Says "cbrcbr":

"I have a MAJOR PROBLEM with totally inferior Women Hockey Players being selected for entrance to our now lost so called Hockey Hall Of Fame .To me it is now thye CANADIAN HOCKEY HALL OF SHAME.There are at least 30 Former NHL players and Builders who have been waiting for many years for admission.TYPICALLY CANADIAN,WE HAVE TO BE OUR VERSION OF POLITACULLY CORRECT.Our Juinor A teams would beat any Canadian team of the past and or present.All American Hiockey leage Teams and European Leage teams would do the same. I am Appauled no more NHL Hockey for me."
It's funny that "cbrcbr" feels that most any men's team can beat the Canadian national women's team. After all, the AAA teams from Alberta are having their asses handed to them by the Canadian women. These AAA players are the next NHL players, the next Junior-A players, and the next European League players. Yet they are getting hammered by a non-checking women's team. But the women aren't that good, apparently.

"Acesup" jumps in with this beauty comment, showing vast intelligence and hockey savvy:
"HHOF is the wrong place for the ladies. They should be in the IIHF hall of whatever they have. To push aside legitimate NHL players to include them is wrong, wrong, wrong."
I forgot how the Hockey Hall of Fame is strictly for NHL players. Perhaps that's how Vladislav Tretiak got in there - his phenomenal NHL numbers. What's that? He never played in the NHL? Oh, right! It's not the NHL Hall of Fame, it's the HOCKEY Hall of Fame. My bad!

"Scorp0232" feels that Canadian history is being smeared by keeping out a former Maple Leaf:
"Putting these women in the hall is ludicrous.Paul Henderson scores the most important goal in Canadian hockey history and he can't get in and yet they vote these 2 ladies in."
When did the Hockey Hall of Fame become the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame? In the grand scheme of things, the Henderson goal is an iconic moment in Canadian history and Canadian hockey history. There's no denying this. But what significance did it have on the Americans? The Swedes? The Czechs?

Henderson's goal is already an enshrined moment in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, but a player like Henderson is not even close to being worthy of having his face in bronze on the wall. He didn't even score 500 points in the NHL, let alone score 500 goals. If his one claim to fame is "the goal", then John Slaney should also be in the Hall of Fame. And he's not going there either.

Frostyice, who apparently is not married, hates women, and feels all women should be back in the kitchen, thinks that the women should be kept separate from the men:
"Please create a seperate hockey hall of fame for Women as most of us don't really consider Womens hockey a Sport. If Someone wants to watch Womens hockey or read about it they could go there."
I'm going to guess that "Frostyice" is one of those bandwagoners who claim Canadian supremacy when the Canadian women win a gold medal or World Championship, but complain about the game. Should sledge hockey be kept separate from the Hockey Hall of Fame too? After all, it's different. As far as I can tell, it's not the "Hockey Hall of Fame for People Who Have Male Sex Organs". It's open to all hockey players, regardless of gender.

Angela James was a dominant force in women's hockey throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Long regarded as the Wayne Gretzky of the women's game, the argument against James, and Granato for that matter, being inducted into the Hall of Fame is that she played against vastly inferior opponents during her heyday. There is validity to this argument, but James' induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame is less about her point totals, and more about what she did for the game of women's hockey in Canada.

Without James leading the way, there may be no St-Pierre or Campbell to speak of in this country. Without James blazing a trail, there may not have been a Rheaume playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning or a Wickenheiser attending the Flyers' training camp or an ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones' camp.

Cammi Granato deserves her induction for the same reason: she literally grew the game through her actions in the United States. While her older brother, Tony, went on to play in the NHL, Cammi broke down barriers at Providence College by shattering every scoring record the school had seen. She's the idol of current players such as goaltender Chanda Gunn.

"You have to understand - I didn't want to be like Cammi Granato," Gunn told Wayne Coffey of the NY Daily News in 2005. "I wanted to be Cammi Granato."

Granato was the building block of the US Women's Program in the same vein that Mia Hamm was for US Soccer and Jennie Finch was for US Softball. She literally was the face of US Women's Hockey for 15 years, and is a major reason why the US Women's Hockey Team is a powerhouse on the world scene.

There is no doubt that both of these ladies scored at a torrid pace when they played the game. In fact, Granato is still the leading scorer, the leading goal-scorer, and the leader in games-played for her country after retiring. However, it was their actions that allowed the game to explode onto the North American sporting world, and this is the primary reason their inclusion to the Hockey Hall of Fame is deserving.

If Wayne Gretzky is credited with growing the sport in the state of California and into the Sunbelt in the southern United States, James and Granato are responsible for growing the sport in two entire countries. Name one player currently in the Hockey Hall of Fame that has had that kind of effect on the game of hockey.

Bobby Orr? Wayne Gretzky? Gordie Howe? Maurice Richard?

If those four men grew the sport of hockey in North America through their skill, scoring, and charisma, then Cammi Granato and Angela James are long overdue for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Regardless of their scoring prowess, these two retired hockey players had more impact on their sport than 99% of the men currently in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

If you ask me, that's entirely the definition of what it means to be a great hockey player.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


JTH said...

Gah! I shudder to think what those meatballs are saying about where the Cup will be this weekend.

And congrats to Cammi Granato for not only being one of the first women inducted, but for being one of the first players from the Chicago area as well. (THE first?)

Congrats to the other inductees as well... except for Dino.

Teebz said...

If the reports are true, his day with the Cup will mark the first day with his new employers as the Hawks reportedly dealt him to the Atlanta Thrashers.

At least Chicago's uniform will get better without Sopel slobbing up the socks.

JTH said...

Heh. Yeah, that's the first thing I thought when I heard the news. So maybe it's fitting that he's going from the team with arguably the best unis to the team with arguably the worst.

Oh, and if he spends the season in the AHL, I'll still get to see him play. Yay.

Kate said...

I would rather have Women's Hockey be separate rather than women themselves be separate. We can recognise that Womens Hockey is a great sport but Womens Hockey is to Hockey what Softball is to Baseball. Here in the US Softball is not an acceptable alternative to Baseball under Title IX. Whats going to happen when more women start making it into the NHL? They should be judged as equals in an equal sport, and judged separately in a separate sport. I do not want to see Hockey become like Basketball with segragated teams from an early age and the WNBA is a joke. We need to move forward with an eye toward women in the highest levels of co-ed sport.

Teebz said...

While your pro-women comments are somewhat correct, Kate, the fact that James and Granato are being placed on the same wall as greats like Gretzky, Orr, Howe, and Richard says a lot about the impact they have had on their sport.

Women's hockey is still hockey, and I support their inclusion to the HHOF.

As for Title IX, I point to this excellent article by ESPN.com's Gregg Easterbrook regarding the stupidity of that law. Easterbrook's argument is spot-on.