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Hockey Hall of Fame's next class will likely be crowded

TORONTO - The wait may have ended for Glenn Anderson but any of the other bubble boys hoping to get into the Hockey Hall of Fame are likely looking at another couple years before they get the call.

There will probably be a crowded class when the Hall opens its doors again next November.

Steve Yzerman is a lock to enter in his first year of eligibility and it's hard to imagine Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille not joining him. All four of those players were legitimate stars in their prime and each has won a Stanley Cup along with one of the league's major personal awards.

Yzerman attended Monday night's ceremony in support of former teammate Igor Larionov and was reminded that his turn was coming in 2009.

"It would certainly be nice," he said.

A 17-man panel is currently responsible for making the Hall selections and at least 75 per cent of those men must endorse a candidate for him to gain election. The entire process is conducted in secret and voting results are never released.

There is no formal criteria for inclusion - like reaching a certain number of points, for example - and Anderson indicated on Monday that he might like to see that kind of system implemented.

He wasn't enshrined until nine years after first becoming eligible and acknowledged that fact during his tear-filled acceptance speech.

"This has been an incredible journey, and so worth waiting for," he said.

The wait continues for others.

Adam Oates and Doug Gilmour are the highest eligible players on the NHL's all-time point list that have been passed over. Oates finished his career with 1,420 points - good for 15th overall - and Gilmour is a spot behind him with 1,414 points.

Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Steve Larmer, Mike Vernon and Dino Ciccarelli are among a long list of players who continue to warrant some consideration.

Some of them may ultimately find their way into the Hall but it's hard to imagine it happening next year because a maximum of four players are inducted per class.

Consider the competition in 2009:

-Yzerman has the strongest Hall of Fame credentials of the newly eligibles - everything from points (1,755) to Stanley Cup wins (three) to international success (Olympic gold).

-Hull is a former league MVP who scored 741 goals during his career, leaving him behind only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. He also won two Stanley Cups and represented the U.S. numerous times.

-Leetch won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman twice, scored more than 1,000 points and was given the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after helping end the New York Rangers end their championship drought in 1994.

-Robitaille is a former NHL rookie of the year who became the highest-scoring left-winger in NHL history with 668 goals.

One other player worth mentioning is Dave Andreychuk, who won a Stanley Cup late in his career with Tampa Bay and racked up 1,338 points. He'll be eligible for the first time next year.

There may also be a different kind of candidate to consider.

The Hall is currently rewriting its bylaws, which could make it easier for female players to get inducted. No woman has yet received that honour but it's probably only a matter of time before it happens.

While it's impossible to predict how the selection committee will handle next year's induction class, it's pretty clear that they'll have no shortage of people to consider.

Notes: Former Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin found himself back in the news on Tuesday with a report in a Toronto newspaper that he had sold a house in the city for $5.7 million. He originally purchased the home in 2003 for $1.7 million and made several renovations. It's believed that Sundin still owns a condo in Toronto ... Six players who changed teams during the past off-season led or shared their team lead in points after Monday's games: Marian Hossa (Red Wings), Alex Tanguay (Canadiens), Keith Ballard (Panthers), Doug Weight (Islanders), Nikolai Zherdev (Rangers) and Olli Jokinen (Coyotes).


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