(via NHL Communications) - Lanny McDonald, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame announced today that six individuals have been elected to Hockey Hall of Fame Honoured Membership, four in the Player Category and two in the Builder 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 hockey legends as Honoured Members,” said Lanny McDonald. “Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved.”
In the Builder Category, Gary Bettman was elected. After being named NHL Commissioner in 1993, Bettman has led the NHL to unprecedented financial growth with league revenues increasing by over $3.5 billion (USF) during his tenure. Bettman also oversaw the league grow from 24 to 31 franchises and NHL attendance by 7 million fans per year.
“This is not something I was focused on and I’m speechless and grateful to be included with this group,” said Bettman. “I’m particularly honoured to be part of a class that includes Willie O’Ree.”
Willie O’Ree was also elected in the Builder Category. The native of Fredericton, New Brunswick split his hockey between his home province and Quebec. From there he went to Springfield and was called up to the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958, making him the first black player in NHL history. After a long professional minor league career, O’Ree retired in 1979 at the age of 43. He has spent the past 20 years as an NHL ambassador and in 2008 received the Order of Canada for his work growing the game around the world.
“This honour would not be possible if I had not rejoined the league in 1996,” said O’Ree. “I was given a second wind to give back to the game and I am honoured to be recognized.”
In the player category, goaltender Martin Brodeur spent 20 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils, where he owns or shares 12 NHL records. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion is one of only two goaltenders to play in over 1,000 NHL games. On the international front, Brodeur was also part of two gold medal winning Olympic teams – in 2002 and 2010.
“As a player you get to meet Hall of Fame members and now to have my name in the same sentence makes me speechless,” said Brodeur. “I was fortunate to play on great teams that allowed me to play with my own personality, which is so important to a goaltender.”
Jayna Hefford was born in Trenton, ON and as a youth set scoring records in Kingston minor hockey that have never been surpassed – by either a male or female hockey player. After a stellar career at the University of Toronto, Hefford went on to star in women’s hockey, both at the CWHL and international levels. For Canada, she was a member of seven IIHL gold medal teams and also won four gold medals at the Olympic Games.
“I have chills and am very proud,” said Hefford. “I am happy for this incredible honour and especially want to share it with my family.”
Martin St. Louis went from not being drafted by any NHL team, to a 17-year NHL career, playing 1134 regular season games and registering 1033 points. A five-time NHL All-Star, St. Louis won the Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2003-04 and was on Canada’s gold medal Olympic team in 2014. A seven time NHL Award winner, he ended his career as only the 6th undrafted NHL player with 1,000 career points.
“Hockey is all about the people who have supported you over the years – both your teammates and your family,” said St. Louis. “I tried to be the best player I could be every day and am proud of all of my NHL memories.”
Alexander Yakushev came into the North American hockey spotlight during the 1972 Summit Series and his play established him as one of the top players in the world. By that time Yakushev was already established in international hockey as a starring member of Spartak Moskva for almost a decade. Elected to the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2003, his accomplishments also include Olympic gold medals in 1972 and 1976.
The 2018 Induction Celebration will be held on Monday, November 12th at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. For more information regarding the 2018 Induction Weekend/Celebration, visit http://www.hhof.com.
Established in 1943, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s (“HHOF”) mandate is to recognize and honour the achievements of players, builders and officials who bring special distinction to the game of hockey, and to collect, preserve, research and exhibit objects, images and resource materials connected with the game as it is played in Canada and throughout the world. As a non-profit corporation and a registered charity under the Income Tax Act, HHOF owns and operates a museum and place of entertainment offering state-of-the-art exhibits, multimedia presentations and educational programming from its premises at Brookfield Place, Toronto, Canada.