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“I think that there’s a real danger in it. I sense that there’s more of a danger now than there was in the past.”

Igor Larionov, another Hall of Famer who now works as a player agent, called for “common sense.”

“I’m very positive it’s going to be resolved in a matter of weeks, maybe two or three weeks,” said Larionov. “You’ll see the game back in shape and the players playing.”

All four members of this year’s Hall of Fame class were affected by a labor disruption during their careers _ Bure was playing for the Vancouver Canucks during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season _ and it’s reasonable to expect that trend will continue for some time after four work stoppages in the last 20 years.

Oates finds himself in a unique position because the lockout has delayed the start of his first season as a head coach with the Washington Capitals. He was hired on the same June day he found out he was heading into the Hall, making “for a pretty emotional 15 minutes.”

The last season of his playing career came in 2003-04 with the Edmonton Oilers.

“I thought about (continuing to play) because I wasn’t happy with my year in Edmonton, so I didn’t really want to go out that way,” he said. “I was considering it, but (the lockout) made it easy.”

He doesn’t harbor any regrets about being quietly ushered out of the game. In fact, it fit the personality of somebody who avoided the limelight by making his name as an excellent passer rather than a scorer.

“That’s the kind of the guy I am _ a little bit understated,” said Oates. “Actually Joe (Sakic) said it this morning: We’re all understated guys, believe it or not.”

Bure’s career was ended prematurely because of knee injuries and he only ended up playing 702 NHL games, just slightly less than half as many as Sundin, Sakic and Oates. But he made the most of what time he had by scoring 437 goals.

He never dreamed he’d find a plaque with his name in the Hall and spoke with emotion during his induction speech.

“I think it’s the biggest achievement you can get in hockey,” said Bure. “The selection committee combines everything you’ve done for hockey worldwide, so for me it’s a huge honor. It feels great.”

For now, hockey at its highest level remains on hold.

Sakic works as an adviser to the Colorado Avalanche and is as anxious as anybody to see the NHL resume. Looking back, the pain of sitting out an entire season quickly went away when a new CBA was signed.

“I remember coming back that next training camp I was pretty excited to be back and playing the game,” said Sakic. “You realize how much you miss the game.”