On Monday night in Toronto, three of the NHL’s best — Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer, and Brendan Shanahan —were enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with female player Geraldine Heaney and late ex-Flyers coach Fred Shero.
“I owe everything in my life to my family, friends and this great game of hockey,” Chelios said in his speech.
“I am tremendously privileged to have the career that I did,” Niedermayer said in his. “I will always cherish the experiences I shared with my teammates in victory and in defeat, and am very honored to be inducted into the Hall tonight.”
“It is just so great to feel like a hockey player again this weekend,” Shanahan said. “It’s just so great.
“I miss it.”
Chelios and Niedermayer, both defensemen, cracked the HHOF in their first years of eligibility, while Shanahan, a forward, was voted in on his second year of admissibility after being passed over in 2012. Heaney became just the third woman ever inducted to the Hall — Angela James and Cammi Granato were the others — while Shero, who led the Flyers to a pair of Stanley Cups in the 70s, got in posthumously after decades of being passed over, having last coached in the NHL during the 1980-81 campaign.
Some highlights from the evening:
— Chelios lamented all the time he lost to work stoppages (he was involved with three), saying that labor disputes were his “biggest regrets” while adding that, and the end of the day, “nobody won.”
— Penguins GM Ray Shero accepted for his father, Fred. Among the things the younger Shero touched upon were his father’s admiration and respect for education, innovation and his ongoing search for knowledge. “My Dad’s inclusion tonight, into hockey’s greatest team, would make him extremely proud,” Ray said.
Here’s more, from NHL.com:
“Win today and we walk together forever,” Shero wrote. During an introduction video, Flyers great Bobby Clarke said that quote has become the most famous and all these years later because he was right.
Ray Shero closed his speech by saying the city of Philadelphia has continued to have a love affair with that team, and they truly will walk together forever.
— “As a young girl growing up in Toronto, I never dreamed I’d be standing here getting inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Heaney said during her speech. She also acknowledged her position as a trailblazer in the women’s game, and thanked her mom for always supporting her.
“Thanks for never telling me ‘Girls don’t play,'” Heaney said.
— NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that while he respected all of this year’s inductees, one did stand out above the rest.
“Obviously my personal favorite is Brendan Shanahan, because I think his contributions to the game based on what he’s doing now will even exceed what he did in the 21 years he played,” Bettman said of the league’s current discipline czar, as per NHL.com. “He’s making a real mark on how the game is played, making it safer for current players and generations to come.”