Goaltender Pat O'Toole Earns NLL Hall of Fame Nod on First Try

Jim FlanneryAnalyst IAugust 8, 2013

(Photo: nll.com)
(Photo: nll.com)

Pat O'Toole was named to the NLL Hall of Fame on Monday. This marks the third straight year that only a single player was elected to the Hall. Moreover, it was the third straight year that the new member was a goalie.

There were five other nominees on the ballot for the Class of 2013, but none carried the required 75 percent of the vote. First-time nominees Pat McCready and Kaleb Toth were the next-closest, as both earned 48 percent.

O'Toole retired in 2010 as the all-time leader in the NLL in regular-season saves (6,464, subsequently topped by Bob Watson in 2011) and playoff saves (802). He won the Goaltender of the Year award in 2003 while playing with the Rochester Knighthawks, where he spent 12 of his 16 seasons. 

He was named the Champion's Cup MVP in 1996 while guiding the Buffalo Bandits to victory and won another championship in 2007 with the Knighthawks.

Finishing up with a 115-56 career record, an 11.40 goals-against average, and a .768 save percentage, O'Toole was a consistent presence between the pipes throughout his career.

He also had a knack for contributing to the offense; the three goals and 136 assists he recorded are league records for goalies.

These days, O'Toole is Rochester's goaltending coach and has helped guide the K'Hawks and their current netminder Matt Vinc to two consecutive championships.

To date, the NLL Hall of Fame has been very conservative about allowing new members; in eight years of existence, only 19 players have been selected along with two members of the media. The first year, 2006, was the only time as many as five players have made the grade.

From that perspective, the voters this year made the right choice. 

The nominees this year were all very good, but they're all arguably not quite Hall of Fame material.

The player with the best shot next year when he returns to the ballot is McCready. He is third all time in loose balls (1593), second in penalty minutes (468) and seventh in games played (219). He was an outstanding and tough defender and was a team leader throughout his career. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he finds the Promised Land in next year's balloting.

Although it pains me to say this because he's my all-time favorite lacrosse player, Toth's numbers probably aren't strong enough to earn him a place in the Hall.

He was unquestionably one of the most important players in Calgary Roughnecks history and a key part of their establishment as a powerhouse in the league during his prime, but he never won a scoring title, an MVP award or even an All-Pro selection.

Toth was very good, but not quite good enough.

The three second-year nominees on this year's ballot will now be removed from the 2014 voting but can be re-nominated by the Hall of Fame Committee in the future if they are so inclined.


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