TORONTO (AP) – The Hockey Hall of Fame’s Pandemic class has finally got its moment in the spotlight.
Jarome Iginla headlined the five players and one executive who was anchored on Monday evening – a year later than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Calgary Flames captain was joined by Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson and Canadian national team goalkeeper Kim St-Pierre, while Ken Holland stepped in as a builder to round out the group elected by the hall’s 18 members to the selection committee before almost 17 Months.
“A career in hockey is made up of a series of exciting chapters as you learn and grow from a savvy rookie to a seasoned veteran,” said Iginla. “And then you’ll be ready in no time. When I look back on these chapters, each one reminds me of so many things to say thank you for. “
Iginla was a mainstay of the Flames from 1996 to 2013, leading his team in eleven goals and twice winning the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer.
Born in Edmonton, who also won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top point winner in 2001/02, scored a total of 625 goals and exactly 1,300 points in 1,554 games in his career, which included four more NHL stops.
Iginla was on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup with Calgary in 2004, but the power forward couldn’t quite get past the hump in a highly competitive series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, Iginla had a lot of success on the international stage. He became the first black athlete to win gold at the Winter Olympics when he helped Canada end a 50-year drought at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Iginla also made one of the most famous assists in his country’s history by setting up Sidney Crosby’s golden goal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“It was really, really great,” he said of the moment.
Iginla joined Grant Fuhr, the Canadian women’s national player Angela James and the pioneer Willie O’Ree, who started as a builder, as the fourth black person.
“As a young black hockey player, it was important to me to see other black players in the NHL,” said Iginla. “In my first year of ice hockey as a seven year old, a kid came up to me and said, ‘Why do you play hockey?’ Over the years I’ve heard, ‘What are your chances of playing in the NHL? There aren’t many black players. ‘”
The induction ceremony usually takes place in a space attached to the Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto, but this year’s event took place across the street at the larger Meridian Hall.
Hossa is the only player in NHL history to have competed with three different teams in three consecutive cup finals. He finally got his hands on the holy grail of ice hockey in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks, after losing the title series as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and the Detroit Red Wings in 2009. He played for a total of five teams, scoring 525 goals and 1,134 points in 1,309 games.
“When I grew up in a communist Czechoslovakia, I didn’t know much about the National Hockey League,” said Hossa. “My early dreams focused solely on playing for my country. But everything changed when I got my hands on a Wayne Gretzky VHS tape. I was fascinated.”
Unlike some of their 2020 classmates – Iginla and Hossa were elected in their first year of eligibility – Lowe and Wilson had to wait their time before receiving the hall call upon retirement. Wilson waited 24 years while Lowe’s patience stretched over 19 springs.
The 62-year-old Lowe won five cups in his 13 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers but was overshadowed by the offensive exploits of teammates including Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri. Elected the seventh player from the Oilers dynasty to the hall, he won a sixth title in 1994 with the New York Rangers.
“Over the years since I retired, people have asked me how I felt about not being in the Hall of Fame,” Lowe said. “I would say, ‘You know, six Stanley Cups are fine. I have enough personal satisfaction. ‘ Well, I lied. “
Wilson played 14 seasons for Chicago and won the 1982 Norris Trophy for top defender in the league. In 1991, the Ottawa native was sold to the San Jose Sharks expansion and played his final two seasons on the West Coast – he was the first captain in the history of the franchise – before later moving to the front office, where he has been GM since 2003.
As the eighth woman – and the first female goalkeeper – St-Pierre was played hockey for boys until the age of 18. She became a star for the McGill University women’s team before helping Canada win three Olympic gold medals and five world championships.
After his career as a player came to an end and a young family had to support in the mid-1980s, Holland’s mother suggested that her son find a job as a vacuum cleaner salesman to help pay the bills. He didn’t listen and ended up joining Detroit as a scout before working his way up to assistant GM. Holland was promoted to the GM role in 1997 and spent 22 seasons in that post, leading Detroit to three cups.
Now, the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, he pointed out that Tuesday will be exactly 41 years since he made his NHL debut as a player for the Hartford Whalers.
“I was 25 years old, the chance of a lifetime,” said Holland, now 66. “After the first period, I felt like I was staying here. Second period, I gave up five goals, in the third period I lost 6-1. I sit during the break and think to myself, ‘Ken, you will never play in the National League again.’
“I guess you’re paraphrasing an old phrase, ‘hockey was very, very good to me after I stopped playing it.'”