The ballots are in, the votes have been tallied, and the NEFHL Hall of Fame Committee is pleased to announce the induction of two players and two builders for the inaugural induction period. All franchises were represented in the voting, and ballots ranged from conservative to liberal. Without further ado, here are the results of the balloting.
The leading vote-getter should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the league. Martin St. Louis, who was active from 2005 to 2015, recorded 28 votes on 31 ballots cast. The much-traveled forward appeared with seven teams over the course of his career, but found a home in his namesake St. Louis, where he helped lead the Blues to two Stanley Cups. St. Louis was a six-time All Star, in addition to winning the Lady Byng Trophy twice, the Art Ross Trophy, and the Hart Trophy. In 2014, he managed to secure all three awards in the same season. He averaged more than a point per game in 797 career regular season games, as well as 117 career playoff games. He reached the century mark for points in three different seasons.
The second player inductee, who received nearly as many votes as St. Louis, is Teemu Selanne. Selanne appeared with three teams during his career; the Panthers, Flyers, and Islanders. He hoisted one Stanley Cup and reached the century mark in points twice with the Florida Panthers, before moving on to play five seasons in Philadelphia. The six-time All Star also added an Art Ross Trophy, a Rocket Richard Trophy, and three Bill Masterton Trophies to his hardware case. He was part of the inaugural NEFHL draft class, retiring in 2014.
An additional 21 players received the two votes necessary to remain on the ballot for next season. The biggest surprises among the players not reaching the threshold for induction include Dany Heatley (17 votes), Chris Pronger (16 votes), Nicklas Lidstrom (15 votes), and Scott Niedermayer (14 votes). Perhaps speaking to the difficulty in determining the true Hall-worthiness of defensemen at this juncture in the the league, at least one of the big three defensemen appeared on nearly ever ballot cast, but very few ballots contained more than one defenseman. Martin Brodeur was the only goalie to reach double digits in votes cast. An additional eight players received a single vote, but will not remain on future ballots.
In the Builder category, three former general managers were nominated, each with their own impressive history. Former Los Angeles Kings General Manager Rob Ratliff received the most votes, securing 25 out of a possible 31 votes, ensuring his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. Former St. Louis Blues General Manager Phil Lanthier made things somewhat more interesting, securing his Hall of Fame induction with the final ballot cast. Ratliff and Lanthier will enter the Hall as first ballot Builders, both representing the best the league has to offer. Former Los Angeles Kings General Manager Drew Phillips failed to reach the seventy-percent threshold necessary for induction, but will remain on the ballot next year, thanks to the eleven votes cast in his favor.
Undoubtedly, there will be some debate over whether worthy candidates missed the cut, but, in the end, there is little doubt that the passage of time will not tarnish this inaugural class.