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Chris Drury never had to play against Angela Ruggiero. And he is extremely grateful for this.
In training for the 2010 Olympics, Drury, then the captain of the New York Rangers, learned about Ruggiero’s exercise regimen, which was tough on athletes of all genders.
“She was far and away one of the greatest trained athletes I’ve ever been around,” Drury said. “There’s no question she had such great success on the ice because of how hard she worked off the ice.”
Drury, Ruggiero, former NHL defenseman Mathieu Schneider and former USA Hockey exec Ron DeGregorio were all named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. Induction will take place Dec. 17 in Boston.
It will be a double Hall of Fame fall/winter for the 35-year-old Ruggiero, who was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on June 29. The induction ceremony for that Hall will be held Nov. 9 in Toronto.
Ruggiero played 15 years for the U.S. National Team, won an Olympic gold medal in 1998, and played 256 games with Team USA – the most in the team’s history. Overall, she accumulated 208 points. She was part of World Championship winning teams in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
“It has just been a whirlwind,” Ruggiero said. “You start playing hockey as a kid because you love the sport. You have to love the sport and be passionate about it to be successful. All this stuff is icing. I didn’t start playing hockey so I could be in the Hall of Fame, so now I’m in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the US Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s a tremendous honor.”
Ruggiero’s 1998 Olympic victory helped spur women’s hockey in the United States and helped give women opportunities they didn’t previously have in the sport.
“I’m very cognizant if I was born 10 years prior I may not have had all these opportunities in life,” she said.
Drury’s selection probably had a lot to do with his success and dedication to USA Hockey. He sort of was like Team USA’s version of Canada’s Ryan Smyth – not the most talented player, but always willing to jump into action when his country called.
He represented Team USA at three Olympics (2002, 2006 and 2010). He also played in three IIHF World Championship squads and the World Cup in 2004.
He never struck gold, but his name was always synonymous with success at the NHL level. He played a key part in Colorado’s 2001 Stanley Cup win, especially after center Peter Forsberg went down with a ruptured spleen after the second-round of those playoffs.
Drury retired after the 2010-11 season with 892 games and 615 points under his belt.
“You look at the list of the players (in the Hall of Fame) and the administrators, guys I looked up to, and wanted to emulate, (Tony) Amonte, (Doug) Weight, (Bill) Guerin and (Keith) Tkachuk, (Brian) Leetch, (Mike) Modano – a long list of great players I wanted to be like. And now I get to be in the Hall of Fame with them it’s certainly quite an honor,” Drury said.
Schneider played a large part in Team USA winning the 1996 World Cup of Hockey – a seminal event for USA Hockey during its evolution over the last 20 years.
He also won a Stanley Cup with Montreal, played 1,289 games and notched 743 points from 1989-90 through 2009-10.
“We’re all privileged being part of USA Hockey,” Schneider said. “This, for me, is one of the greatest days of my career. And I appreciate everything I was able to achieve through the help and support of USA Hockey and having the opportunity to play with so many other great athletes.”
DeGregorio served as president of USA Hockey for 12 years and had been with the program for over 40. He retired as USA Hockey president in June, 2015 and currently serves as co-chair of USA Hockey’s Board of Directors.
In 2002 he won the Lester Patrick Trophy for his commitment to hockey in the United States.
“USA Hockey is blessed with so many great leaders who grow the game and people in it,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure working together with these leaders. From the grassroots level to the NHL to international, we’ve had some great successes together and much more in the future for sure.”
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