With the Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony coming up on Monday, it is only natural to talk about the guys who are being inducted compared to the guys who are still waiting. In my opinion, however, that discussion is meant for June when the Inductees are being announced. That’s when you can speculate and discuss those who should be inducted and debate the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee’s choices for those who will be.
Induction night is one of the few nights when it is all about the members of our hockey community. This is a unique thing in most of their careers because they are expected to deflect their success on their teammates, the fans, the organization, etc. On this night, for this select few it is the opposite. Despite how much they try, it is all about them, their successes and their perseverance. So leading up to Induction night, the idea shouldn’t be to debate those who weren’t selected or even to make the case for those who were, it’s more to reflect on memories in what is hockey’s greatest honour.
So with that in mind, I’m not going to recount everything that Peter Forsberg, Mike Modano, Dominik Hasek, Rob Blake, Pat Burns, and Bill McCreary did in their careers. Instead I want to pose the question to the readers: what do you remember most about each of these gentleman? What is their standout moment? Peter Forsberg is an easy one. Most people remember him for “The Goal” in the 1994 Winter Olympics in the shootout against Corey Hirsch and the Canadians. That was an epic moment not only in Swedish Hockey history, but in International Hockey history itself. It is so big that it became the subject of a Swedish postage stamp years later. For me, what I remember most about Forsberg would be a couple of years after Gretzky retired and he won the Hart Trophy in 2003. At that point he and Jaromir Jagr were considered to take the reins as the best players in the game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay healthy for us to see his greatness for similarly long periods of time as was enjoyed by Gretzky — and is still being so by Jagr.
Speaking of the Dallas Stars, Mike Modano is Mr. Star. The highest scoring American of all-time spent all of his career but one year with the Stars’ organization. He began with the North Stars when in Minnesota and when they moved to Dallas he was an element of stability. Someone to compare him to in today’s standards would be Andrew Ladd of the Jets. With new ownership, new city, new GM, new coaches, Ladd took it upon himself to be the leader of a young Jets team to insure that they would be comfortable in Winnipeg. That’s the impression I’ve always had of Mike Modano. The thing that always stands out for me with Modano was the class that he displayed when the Stars stripped him of his captaincy and gave it to Brendan Morrow. A lot of players from his generation could have had a hissy fit and demanded a trade, but he did what was best for the team with no problems leaking to the media.
All fans know about Pat Burns’ trio of Jack Adams awards with three different teams. That is a feat no other coach has — or is even close to — accomplishing. But Burns was probably one of the most consistent coaches of all time, especially compared to today’s standards. Burns spent four years in Montreal, Toronto, and Boston and then spent a pair in New Jersey before he had to retire due to the illness that evntually took his life way too early. That is the mark of a stable coach. Two moments with Burns come especially to mind for me. First during his time with the Leafs he had a grumpy exterior. When he was told to smile because his team was in first place he said “I am smiling” while gritting his teeth. The other thing would be his finally winning the Stanley Cup in his second and last year with the New Jersey Devils. That moment ranks right up there with Ray Bourque’s Cup win in Colorado.
Now for officials, they’re actually at their best when not noticed or remembered. What you have to remember for Bill McCreary was that this was a man who the NHL and the IIHF trusted in caretaking many o their biggest games. He was one of the officials in the 2002 and 2010 Gold Medal Games in the Winter Olympics and worked the Stanley Cup Finals between 1994 and 2007, then returned in 2009. He was a model of consistency in an inconsistent science. I don’t really have a memorable moment, but based on what I’ve read, his memorable moment would be refereeing Wayne Gretzky’s final game in 1999.
Trivia Question: What was the first NHL team based out of New York?
First person who emails me the correct answer gets a pair of Haggar Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic tickets. The game is on Sunday November 16th at the Air Canada Centre beginning at 3pm. For more details click HERE.
You must be able to pick up the tickets from me, which we would have to work out the details.
So what do you remember most of these gentlemen? You can let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or following me on Twitter @kirshenblatt
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.