The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2014, and in doing so righted an egregious wrong.
The Hall of Fame will welcome defenseman Rob Blake, in his second year of eligibility; center Peter Forsberg, goalie Dominik Hasek and forward Mike Modano, all in their first years of eligibility. Referee Bill McCreary makes the Hall of Fame, as does Pat Burns.
Burns, the three-time coach of the year and Stanley Cup winner, was elected to the Hall in the builders’ category after being snubbed by the selection committee for the last several years. Burns died in 2010 after a lengthy battle with cancer; the Hall of Fame was pressured to elect him before this death, but instead will do so posthumously in 2014.
This marks the second time in two years that the Hall has elected a long-time “snub,” after electing former Flyers coach Fred Shero in 2013.
Here's the official release from the Hockey Hall of Fame on the inductions:
Pat Quinn, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame and John Davidson, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee, announced today that four individuals have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Player Category. In addition one individual was elected in the Builder Category and one in the Referee or Linesman category. The vote took place today at the annual meeting of the Selection Committee in Toronto.
"The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these six hockey legends as Honoured Members," said John Davidson. "Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved."
Rob Blake was born in Simcoe, Ontario, and played his college hockey at Bowling Green State University from 1987 - 1990, where he was a Hobey Baker finalist in his last season before turning pro with the Los Angeles Kings. He went on to play 20 NHL seasons with three NHL teams, winning the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. A 12-time NHL 40+ regular season point scorer, Blake is a member of the IIHF's elite Triple Gold Club winning a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and the IIHF World Championship.
"This is a tremendous honour,"said Blake. "I am fortunate to have been around the game of hockey and have it be a key part of my life for as long as I can remember."
Swedish native Peter Forsberg joined the NHL after playing five seasons in the Swedish Elite league. A first round selection of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1991 Entry Draft, he played 14 NHL seasons and was the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 1995. A two-time Stanley Cup champion in 1996 and 2001 with Colorado, Forsberg also won the Hart Trophy in 2003. He won IIHF gold medals in 1992 and 1998 and the Olympic gold medal in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.
"It's been a good run and I wouldn't change places with anybody," said Forsberg. "Joining Borje Salming and Mats Sundin in the Hall of Fame as the third Swedish member makes it especially gratifying for me."
Goaltender Dominik Hasek played nine seasons professionally in the Czech League before joining the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1990-91 season. A six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender, he also won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 1997 and 1998 - the first time a goaltender had won that trophy since Jacques Plante in 1962. He won Stanley Cups in Detroit in 2002 and 2008 and also won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
"After I retired I really began to appreciate what the game did for me," said Hasek. "My goal was just to make the NHL, and achieving this recognition is far beyond what I could have imagined."
A native of Livonia, Michigan, Mike Modano played his Junior hockey with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL where he was drafted first overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars franchise, with whom he played 21 of his 22 NHL seasons. Modano holds the NHL record for most goals (561) and points (1,374) by an American-born player. An Olympic silver medalist, he also led the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999.
"When I played I always hoped that I could make an impact on the game, both on and off the ice, and this honour recognizes that," said Modano. "I love this game and as an American born player, I owe a lot to the people in Prince Albert who helped me take my game to the next level."
In the Builder Category, Pat Burns was elected. After a 17 year career as a police officer, Pat coached the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL for four seasons. From there he progressed to the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the AHL in 1987. In 1988, he began his 14- year NHL coaching career with the Montreal Canadiens - winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year in his first season. With a career .573 winning percentage, Pat also won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2003. Pat passed away on November 19th, 2010 in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
"It's a great day for me and my family," said Lynn Burns (Pat's widow). "I'm speechless and tremendously happy. Pat would be proud and this is well-deserved."
In the Referee and Linesman category, Bill McCreary was elected. After playing Junior A hockey, Bill joined the NHL in 1984. He officiated 1,700 regular season NHL games and 282 NHL playoff games before ending his career on April 2nd, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Internationally, Bill worked the 1998 and 2002 Olympics, including the gold medal games at both tournaments.
"I was fortunate living in Guelph to be encouraged to get into officiating by some of the NHL greats that were involved in the game there, "said McCreary. "Just as with the players, being in the Stanley Cup Final is the goal of any official and I'm pleased that I was able to have that recognition on several occasions."
The 2014 Induction Celebration will be held on Monday, November 17th at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.