The Hall of Fame selection committee just couldn’t ignore the numbers any longer.
In his eighth-year of eligibility, former North Stars winger Dino Ciccarelli can finally add the words, “Hall of Famer,” in front of his name.
Ciccarelli, one of the greatest net crashers in NHL history, received the phone call he’s long waited for Tuesday.
Ciccarelli’s 608 goals rank 16th all-time and his 232 power-play goals rank eighth. He finished with 1,200 points (45th all-time) and 73 game-winning goals (30th). In the playoffs, he’s scored the 13th most goals (73) in NHL history.
Over 19 seasons, Ciccarelli spent time with Minnesota, Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida.
But his longest stint came in nine years with the North Stars. With Minnesota, Ciccarelli scored 332 goals (3rd–ranked Stars/North Stars), 131 power-play goals (3rd) and 651 points (4th) in 602 games.
A conference call is currently underway, but I’ve talked to Ciccarelli for years about how much this would mean to him. It’s a huge sense of pride.
His career began in 1980 with the North Stars. Undrafted because of a shattered femur in juniors, Lou Nanne took a risk and signed him. Nanne was one of the biggest influences in getting Ciccarelli into the Hall of Fame. It’s not enough just to be eligible. You have to be nominated, and Nanne annually sent letters to the committee on Ciccarelli’s behalf.
Ciccarelli got his toughness – this guy drove the net and parked himself there with a 5-foot-10 frame in the age when defensemen could do anything to move you out of the way – from his dad, Vic, who passed away a few years back.
Ciccarelli’s father immigrated to Canada from Italy in the 1950s. With no money, Vic did every odd job imaginable to save enough money to bring over his wife, Celeste.
He was a welder and a plumber. He laid pipe and worked at a gas station.
“I think it’s why I was never satisfied as a hockey player and always pushed for more,” Ciccarelli said to me in 2006. “I didn’t care how big opponents were or how much it hurt, I wanted to stick my nose in the there.
“Dad did anything to make money, to support his family. He’s been my biggest fan, from supporting me, to teaching me, to pushing me hard. He drove me pretty hard. He’s meant everything.”
Nanne said in that same article: “The guy has better credentials than many people in the Hall of Fame. And this kid’s not only among the greatest goal scorers ever, but he scored among the biggest goals ever. He had a career of coming through in the clutch.”
Off-ice indiscretions is why it’s taken Ciccarelli so long to get in.
In 1987, he pleaded guilty to indecent exposure. In 1988, he was suspended 10 games and spent a few hours in jail for hitting Luke Richardson over the head with his stick.
Asked in 2006 if he felt character is why he wasn’t in the Hall yet, Ciccarelli said, “That’s not for me to say. I don’t know. I got myself into pathetic situations in my career, so possibly.”
More from Star Tribune
More From Russo's Rants
Down 2-0 in Chicago, the Wild came from behind for the 13th time to beat an opponent.
The Wild, one night after taking the conference lead from Chicago, and Blackhawks meet for the first time tonight.
Wild ends first half of the season with a crazy 5-4 victory over the Stars
Last year it was the Wild that was on the outside of the playoff race looking in for much of the season while the high-scoring Stars were frontrunners. A win tonight puts the Wild atop the Western Conference standings
The Wild improved to 3-0-1 in its past four games and nearly set a home record for largest margin of victory by blowing out Montreal, 7-1.