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NLL Hall of Fame Watch: Ballot Returners

With the National Lacrosse League’s announcement that the Hall of Fame would be returning, I decided to throw my ballot into the ring to discuss who I think should get their call to the NLL Hall of Fame.

In today’s segment (first of a three-part series), I discuss the accolades of three former finalists that make strong cases for induction.

It will certainly be interesting to see how many candidates the Hall of Fame committee decides on enshrining after the multi-year hiatus. Will we see the biggest class in league history? The largest group of inductees was five and came during the 2006 inaugural class. Will these three ballot holdovers find their way on the growing list of candidates or be left waiting for their shot at enshrinement?

Kevin Finneran

Photo courtesy of Kevin Finneran

Kevin Finneran was a finalist on the last two ballots in 2015 and 2016 prior to the NLL Hall of Fame’s hiatus. The 13-year pro began his career with season stints in New England and Detroit, before finding his home for the next decade with the Philadelphia Wings.

As a young Philly fan, some of Finn’s best statistical seasons lined up with my developing interest in the sport and Wings, so he holds a soft spot in my heart. But his addition to the list is not just my young fandom talking, as he most certainly has the numbers to back up his candidacy.

Finn tallied 644 points in his extensive career that included 262 goals and 382 assists. Some of his greatest success came when it counted most, helping the Wings win four championships (1994, 1995, 1998, 2001) during his tenure in Philly.

As strong as his statistical output was throughout his career, Finneran’s durability was what made him great. At the time of his retirement, the Ohio Weslyan graduate held the record for most consecutive regular season games played at 139.

In his final act, Finneran signed with the Toronto Rock in 2003 (much to the chagrin of young Adam) and went out as a champion in his final game as a box lacrosse pro.

If my case doesn’t do it for you, maybe arguably the greatest goalie of all-time, Dallas Eluik’s opinion on who should get in next sways you.

Jake Bergey

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Wings

If you thought I was bias about the Finneran pick, you probably won’t have interest in reading about my case for #66 to get into the NLL Hall of Fame. To give you a reference point for my Bergey fandom as a kid, I thought I would mention the time I met Jake’s dad, Bill Bergey, the all-time great Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker.

My dad brought me to a card show to meet one of the leaders that brought the Eagles to the 1980 Super Bowl. As my turn came to chat with the elder Bergey (5-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL All-Pro) and get his autograph I spurted out, “Oh my gosh, you’re Jake Bergey’s dad!? That’s so cool!” Needless to say, Bergey was a no-doubter to find his way onto my ballot.

Bergey was interestingly left off the most recent finalist list, despite being on the ballot in 2014 and 2015. Similar to his aforementioned teammate, Bergey came from the D3 ranks (Salisbury University) and had longevity in the league, playing 10 seasons (1998-2008), all with Philadelphia.

Bergey finished his career second in franchise history in three categories; points (557), goals (256) and assists (301) only behind current hall of famer, Tom Marachek. His productivity helped the Wings win two championships, the first during his rookie year in 1998 and then in 2001, which turned out to be Philadelphia’s last championship. Bergey is widely considered to be one the best Americans to play in the NLL. He was always a fan favorite in Philly and saw his #66 jersey retired and hung in the rafters in 2014.

Gavin Prout

Photo courtesy of Colorado Mammoth

Just like Finneran, Gavin Prout found himself on the outside looking in on the two most recent Hall of Fame ballots. Of the three I wrote about in this segment, I think Prout probably has the best case to hear his name called when this year’s class is announced.

Coming off a fantastic college career, expectations were high from day one for Prout, as he was selected first overall in 2001 by the now-defunct New York Saints. The hype did not seem to phase Prout as he finished is rookie campaign with 82 points, a precursor of things to come.

After two seasons in New York, Prout landed with Colorado, where he would spend nine of his 12 seasons and become a perennial all-star (seven-time). During his first six years with the Mammoth, Prout never recorded less than 74 points in a season. The Loyola grad finished his career ninth all-time in league history with 922 points.

Arguably the pinnacle of Prout’s time in Colorado came in 2006 when he captained the Mammoth to their only NLL Championship and was named playoff MVP. Prout saw his #9 jersey retired by Colorado in 2015.

Which of these three candidates do you think makes it into the Hall of Fame? Tune in for next week’s segment where I take a look at a few potential first-time finalists and explain why their candidacy is all but guaranteed.

Adam Moore is a Delco native, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and managing editor of Lacrosse Playground. He also has a passion for sports history and serves as Lacrosse Playground's creative director. Adam has been writing on lacrosse for more than a decade and has been published online with The Capital Gazette and US Lacrosse Magazine. Adam played four years of college lacrosse as a goaltender for Elizabethtown College. When he’s not covering pro lacrosse, he can be found coaching at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore and watching Philadelphia sports.

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