i think first ballot becomes meaningful, or at the very least interesting, once you get guys who DON'T deserve to be in getting in after waiting forever. dick duff is the poster boy and arguably also the patient zero, with his totally unexpected induction after 30 years of nobody caring that he was eligible. but of course you also have gillies (who tbf was a little earlier than duff), ciccarelli, housley, and last year andreychuk. the idea, i guess, is that the more you have to talk yourself into it, or the longer that takes (unless extenuating circumstances, e.g. mark howe, makarov, etc), the lower you are on the hall of fame totem pole. i think of it as a HHOF demerit, the inverse to being inducted on the day you retire, like orr, gretzky, etc.