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The most ridiculous rule in hockey, even worse than allowing simultaneous calls for stick infractions and diving, even worse than the instigator, is that a maximum of four players in a given year can be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

To me, it has always been pretty simple. A player either deserves a place among the all-time greats or he does not.

Imagine what would have happened if Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier, Scott Stevens and Patrick Roy were eligible the same year rather than one year apart. One of them would have been forced to wait his turn based on a silly rule that has remained because, well, it’s always been that way.

That’s not good enough.

It leads me to Dave Andreychuk, who along with Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick, was passed over Tuesday afternoon. They had the misfortune of being overlooked because they were in a pack that included Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. The three selected were slam dunks for the Hall.

Shanahan should have been voted into the Hall last year, but there was no room after Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin were inducted. Tkachuk and Roenick will likely wind up in Toronto at some point. Andreychuk can make an argument that would stack up against anyone who hasn’t been inducted.

“There are a lot of people in my court, and I know that,” Andreychuk said by telephone Tuesday. “At the same time, it’s out of my control. When you look back on a career, there’s a lot of good and not so much bad. Would it be complete? Absolutely. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it at this time of year.”

Andreychuk makes for an interesting case study about the requirement because his career was one of longevity more than domination. It comes down to a matter of taste and whether numbers are enough to state his case. Statistics rarely tell the whole story, but at some point they become too staggering to overlook.

Unless it’s a crowded field, of course.

Andreychuk played 1,639 NHL games, which ranks sixth all-time. The former Sabres left wing scored 274 power-play goals, the most in history. He had 640 goals overall, 14th most in history. He had 1,338 points, which is 28th all-time. He also captained the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup title.

He had scored 20 goals or more 19 times in his career, including 14 straight seasons. He had 40 goals or more four times, including back-to-back 50-goal seasons. He led NHL in power-play goals twice in his career. He never had a 100-point season, but twice he had 99 points and six times averaged more than a point per game in a season.

Let’s remember, too, that he was forced to alter his style as the game evolved – or regressed – from the high-flying 1980s to the dead-puck era that followed before he retired in 2006. He’s a classy guy and was known as a consummate teammate who evolved into a respected leader later in his career. He produced, and he won.

And that’s not enough?

“I’m very, very proud of one thing, and that’s my games played,” Andreychuk said. “Some people dismiss that. A lot of people think you change teams and just play. I’m very proud of it. I had to change the way I played, so I could play. As you get older, it’s about character and work ethic and how you treat players on your team.”

If postseason awards matter, consider that he played between 1982 and 2006. For his first 11 seasons, only four players won the Hart Trophy – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Brett Hull. Only eight forwards were named most valuable player over his final 12 seasons, when the game was geared more toward goaltending and defense.

Let’s face it, there are dozens of players who were left off postseason trophies because they played with some of the best players ever. In 2010, Dino Ciccarelli was the only NHL player inducted into the Hall. He played fewer games, scored fewer goals, had fewer assists, fewer power-play goals and never won a Stanley Cup. He played 19 seasons and had an outstanding career. He belongs in the Hall, but he wouldn’t have stood a chance voted upon this year.

If you look at the numbers, Andreychuk deserves to stand alongside him and the others who deserved a place. If it’s not about statistics, why does the Hall of Fame put a number on the maximum allowed in one season?

That’s the problem.

“Eventually, they have to find room for me because they can’t leave a 600-goal scorer out of it,” Andreychuk said. “In this day and age, goals are pretty tough to come by. I don’t think you’re going to see too many guys come through like that any more. Another year goes by. I’m thankful for what hockey gave me. I hope that my time comes.”

Backhanded comment

The BBC received nearly 700 complaints from viewers after tennis analyst John Inverdale unloaded with comments about Marion Bartoli’s beauty – or in his opinion, lack thereof – moments after she won Wimbledon.

“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight,’ ” Inverdale told his radio listeners.

More shocking than the comment from Inverdale, who will never be a genius, was that only 700 people complained to the BBC. The network and Inverdale apologized for the remark. Somehow, he still had a job Tuesday.

Butler coach opens doors

Boston Globe hoops writer Gary Dzen reported that 80 percent of fans who responded to an online poll supported the Celtics’ decision to hire Brad Stevens away from Butler University to replace Doc Rivers. It’s a surprising number, even given the eternal optimism among fans, because he has no NBA experience.

A few other facts and figures collected by Dzen:

Stevens’ 166 victories at Butler were the most of any Division I coach in his first six years on the job.

The last time Boston hired a coach without NBA experience was 1948, when Doggie Julien left Holy Cross. He had a 47-81 record in Boston before getting fired. Incidentally, Julien coached Hall of Fame point guard Bob Cousy at Holy Cross and viewed him as a hot dog because he threw no-look and behind-the-back passes.

Stevens is a strong proponent of metrics, which is why he hired former Basketball Prospectus stats guru Drew Cannon at Butler. Cannon will join Stevens with the Celts.

Baseball wife strikes out

With so many professional athletes getting arrested in recent years, it was a matter of time before one of their wives landed on the police blotter.

Make way for Anna Benson, known more for “Baseball Wives” on VH1 than being the wife of former pitcher Kris Benson. She faces numerous charges after allegedly breaking into his house wearing a bulletproof vest and trying to rob him at gunpoint.

The two met years ago in typical fairytale fashion – he was a ballplayer hanging out in a strip joint, and she was a dancer – before getting married in 1999. The former Penthouse model now faces felony assault, criminal trespass and illegal gun-possession charges.

Quotable

Shaquille O’Neal on Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers and agreeing to terms with the Rockets: “I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That’s right, little town. I said it.”

Stats Inc.

0 – Minutes played with the 76ers last season by Andrew Bynum, who reportedly was offered a two-year contract worth $24 million by the Cavaliers despite having knee problems.

76.3 – Percentage of PGA Tour earnings in 2013 won Sunday by Jonas Blixt, who picked up $1.134 million and his first career victory in the Greenbrier Classic.

33 – Home runs belted through 89 games by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, matching his career high in one season that was set in 139 games last year.

Quick Hits

• Chase the Bat Dog, a popular golden retriever that fetched bats for the Yankees’ affiliate in Trenton, died Monday at age 13, three days after its retirement party. Two offspring continued in the family business. Derby, which worked with its father, will continue entertaining Trenton fans. Ollie left home for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

• Colin Kaepernick clearly wasn’t wearing his thinking cap when he decided to don a Dolphins’ cap for a photo that raced through the Internet. The 49ers quarterback needs to remember who signs his paychecks, but fans overreacted. Now, if he were the Bills quarterback wearing a Dolphins’ cap, it would have been grounds for dismissal.

• Jets coach Rex Ryan spent two days in Spain running from the bulls. It was a departure from his news conferences, where the bull usually runs from him.

email: bgleason@buffnews.com