By Brad Lee
The picture above of Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Mark Messier shows a couple things. First, what an awesome Hall of Fame class that is getting honored tonight at 6:30 p.m. St. Louis time on the NHL Network (thanks for finally adding it to the lineup last Thursday, you demons at Charter). Add Ron Francis in there and you have four players who had impact across the league and who also played some damn fine hockey.
And you also have the embodiement of the St. Louis Blues franchise. What would have happened if the Blues hadn't signed Brendan Shanahan in "free agency" (ex-Mrs. Craig Janney probably wouldn't be Mrs. Brendan Shanahan)? Or what would have happened if the Blues weren't forced to give Stevens to New Jersey as compensation? Or what would have happened if New Jersey didn't match the offer sheat the Blues signed Stevens to a few years later? If the stars were better aligned and if the fix wasn't in for a franchise working within the framework of the rules but against league traditions, the Blues could have fielded both of the Hall of Fame defensemen in this year's class at the same time. So close...yet so far away.
We'll try to come back tonight with some anecdotes about MacInnis and his time with the Blues (he said he even enjoyed playing for Mike Keenan because of all the ice time he got playing for Iron Mike). In the meantime, visit the league's rundown of HOF stuff and even check out the Hockey Hall of Fame. And remember, you can always leave your MacInnis memories in the comments.