Jarome Iginla spotlights Hockey Hall of Fame inductee class

TORONTO – The Hockey Hall of Fame pandemic class has finally had their moment in the limelight.

Jarome Iginla titled the five players and one dedicated Monday night – a year later than originally expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Calgary Flames captain was joined by Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson and Canadian Women’s National Team goaltender Kim St-Pierre, while Ken Holland came in as a builder to round out the squad. voted by the 18 members of the room. selection committee almost 17 months ago.

“A hockey career is a series of exciting chapters where you learn and grow from a wide-eyed rookie to a seasoned veteran,” said Iginla. “And then in the blink of an eye you’re done. When I look back on those chapters, each one reminds me of so many things for which I have to say thank you.”

A mainstay of the Flames from 1996 to 2013, Iginla led her team in scoring 11 times, twice winning the Maurice Richard Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top scorer.

The Edmonton native, who also won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2001-02, combined 625 goals and exactly 1,300 points in 1,554 games during a career that included four more. stops in the NHL.

Iginla came close to winning the Stanley Cup with Calgary in 2004, but the power forward couldn’t quite get over the bump in a hard-fought series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Iginla, however, has had great 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 recorded one of the most famous assists in her country’s history, scoring Sidney Crosby’s golden goal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“It was really, really awesome,” he said of the moment.

Iginla joined Grant Fuhr, Canada’s National Women’s Team player Angela James and trailblazer Willie O’Ree, who entered as a builder, as the fourth consecrated black person.

“As a young black hockey player, it was important for me to see other black players in the NHL,” said Iginla. “In my first year of hockey at the age of seven, a kid came up to me and said, ‘Why are you playing hockey? Over the years I would hear, “What are your chances of playing in the NHL?” There aren’t many black players. “”

The induction ceremony usually takes place in a Hall of Fame plaza in downtown Toronto, but this year’s event was held across the street in the larger Meridian Hall.

Hossa is the only player in NHL history to have played three Cup Finals in a row with three different teams. He finally got his hands on the holy grail of hockey in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks after losing the title streak with 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.

“Growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, I didn’t know much about the National Hockey League,” Hossa said. “My early dreams were all about playing for my country. But that all changed when I got my hands on a Wayne Gretzky VHS tape. I was mesmerized.”

Unlike some of their 2020 classmates – Iginla and Hossa were elected in their first year of eligibility – Lowe and Wilson had to bide their time before being summoned after retirement. Wilson waited 24 years while Lowe’s patience spanned 19 springs.

Lowe, 62, won five cups in his 13 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, but has been eclipsed by the offensive exploits of his teammates like Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri. The seventh player of the Oilers dynasty elected to the room, he won a sixth title with the New York Rangers in 1994.

“Over the years since I retired, people have asked me how I feel about not being in the Hall of Fame,” Lowe said. “I would say, ‘You know, six Stanley Cups is good. I have enough personal satisfaction. “Well, I was lying.”

Wilson played 14 seasons with Chicago, winning the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 1982. Traded to the expanding San Jose Sharks in 1991, the Ottawa native played his last two seasons on the West Coast – he was the franchise’s first captain. history – before moving later to the front office, where he has been managing director since 2003.

The eighth woman – and first female goaltender – consecrated, St-Pierre played men’s hockey until the age of 18. She went on to play for the McGill University women’s team before helping Canada win three Olympic gold medals and five world championships.

With his playing career over and a young family to support in the mid-1980s, Holland’s mother suggested her son find a job as a vacuum salesman to pay the bills. He didn’t listen and eventually joined Detroit as a scout before rising through the ranks to assistant general manager. Holland was promoted to general manager in 1997 and spent 22 seasons there, guiding Detroit to three Cups.

Now general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, he said Tuesday, it will be exactly 41 years since he made his NHL debut as a Hartford Whalers player.

“I was 25, the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Holland, now 66. “After the first period I felt like I was here to stay. In the second period I allowed five goals, led 6-1 in the third period, I sat in the intermission and said to myself, ‘Ken, you won’t be anymore. never in the National League. ”

“I guess you’re paraphrasing an old expression: ‘Hockey has been very, very good for me after I stopped trying to play it.'”

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