Controversial Jeremy Roenick among surprise picks for Hockey Hall of Fame

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The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee went off script Tuesday.

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In announcing the induction of five players, two of them American females, the 18 members reached around perceived reluctance to recognize Russians in these turbulent geo-political times by choosing the very-qualified Pavel Datsyuk while adding hot-potato pick Jeremy Roenick.

Datsyuk, the Detroit Red Wings’ Cup winner and international star, joined fellow first-year eligible Shea Weber, a well-established Canadian defenceman.

The two Americans with lengthy NCAA and international accomplishments were Natalie Darwitz, who recently departed as general manager of Minnesota’s Professional Women’s Hockey League team, and Krissy Wendell-Pohl, now a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins and wife of former NHLer John Pohl.

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In the builder category, retired David Poile, who won more games than any NHL general manager before leaving the Nashville Predators a year ago, was named, along with former player and league executive Colin Campbell, who worked in many levels such as discipline and hockey operations.

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No one can argue against the highly decorated Datsyuk, but when the 1,000-point scorer Alex Mogilny was not among those picked last year, it was thought the Hall was mirroring the isolation of Russia on the world sports stage and Datsyuk might join him in limbo.

There was a chance that Ilya Kovalchuk, in his first year, would have got some support on Tuesday, too.

Roenick had 500-plus goals, but it was believed his controversial comments both during his playing days and as a media commentator in the 15 years since he retired were being held against him.

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Mike Gartner, chairman of the committee, mentioned that he was a teammate of Roenick in Phoenix and extolled his on-ice virtues on TSN after the announcement. To be inducted, nominees needed 14-of-18 votes from a member who had to bring their name up for debate.

Winger Mogilny, netminder Curtis Joseph and forward Keith Tkachuk were among those snubbed again.

Two Canadian women also were thought to be strong contenders, Jennifer Botterill and Cassie Campbell, along with American Meghan Duggan.

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