2018 HHOF class: Bettman, Brodeur, Hefford, O’Ree, St. Louis, Yakushev

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The 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame class was named on Tuesday. The six-person group will include (gasp) Gary Bettman, Martin Brodeur, Jayna Hefford, Willie O’Ree, Martin St. Louis, and Alexander Yakushev. Brodeur, Hefford, St. Louis, and Yakushev were inducted under the players category, while O’Ree and Bettman were inducted as builders.

Let’s take a look at each inductee.

Gary Bettman – One of the most controversial figures in NHL history, Bettman has undeniably made a huge impact on the league and sport as a whole. Whether you like it or not.

Yes, this opens up the distinct possibility that a Hall of Fame speech might draw boos, and the decision is getting roasted as expected on Twitter. Still, Bettman’s served as commissioner since 1993, seeing the NHL expand from a league of 24 teams to 31. There have been plenty of successes to go along with polarizing decisions; this induction reflects all of that.

“This is not something I was focused on and I’m speechless and grateful to be included with this group,” Bettman said, via the HHOF. “I’m particularly honoured to be part of a class that includes Willie O’Ree.”

Martin Brodeur – The true “no-brainer” of this class, Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time wins leader at 691.

One could get as fatigued as Brodeur should have been as the New Jersey Devils’ workhorse goalie rattling off all of his records and milestones. Along with that wins record, Brodeur is tops all-time with a ridiculous 125 shutouts. Brodeur amassed eight 40-win seasons and won at least 30 games for 12 consecutive seasons.

Brodeur won three Stanley Cups with the Devils.

One might associate his career with the word “trap.” Along with helping the Devils concoct one of the most successful neutral-zone trap systems, Brodeur’s passing and puckhandling is credited/blamed with the league adopting “the trapezoid.”

Jayna Hefford – From the women’s category, Hefford’s distinguished career includes four Olympic gold medals (plus a silver) and four championships at the IIHF World Championships.

Hefford generated plenty of individual accolades, as well, as Team Canada notes in her profile:

Hefford ranks third all-time in scoring and games played for Canada’s National Women’s Team. At Salt Lake City 2002, it was Hefford who scored the eventual gold medal-winning goal with just one second to play in the second period of the final against the United States. Amongst her other accolades, Hefford was named Top Forward at both the 2004 and 2005 IIHF Women’s World Championships. She was also named to the Media All-Star team at the 2004 Worlds.

Willie O’Ree – This honor is long overdue.

O’Ree broke the color barrier for the NHL when he suited up with the Boston Bruins in 1958, inspiring countless players. The first black player in league history only played 45 games at this level, but his legacy is incredibly important. It’s about time that he’s in the HHOF.

Martin St. Louis – He went undrafted, and that notorious Olympic snub coming off of a scoring title punched his ticket out of Tampa Bay. For much of his career, Martin St. Louis seemed to deal with slight after slight, yet now he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

It’s easy to see why.

St. Louis won one Stanley Cup, one Hart Trophy, two scoring titles, and was a prolific playoff performer. Even with “the clutch and grab” era diluting some of his numbers, St. Louis scored 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 regular-season games. He also generated 90 points in 107 postseason contests.

Combine those totals with an Olympic gold medal and you can’t ask for a much better resume, especially since he had to earn every chance he ever received. Martin St. Louis won’t need to kick down the door this time, though.

Alexander Yakushev – The Russian hockey icon was “a lanky and elegant scoring machine” during his playing days, standing out during the iconic 1972 Summit Series. He’d go on to win two Olympic gold medals (1972 and 1976) and made an impact on hockey after his playing days ended, even serving as a referee.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.