Jarome Iginla headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 after being elected Wednesday in his first year of eligibility.
Iginla will be the fourth Black player inducted after Grant Fuhr, women’s hockey pioneer Angela James and Willie O’Ree. Iginla and Fuhr are the only Black NHL players enshrined for their on-ice accomplishments, while O’Ree was chosen in the builder category in 2018 for breaking the league’s color barrier 60 years earlier.
The longtime Calgary Flames captain was the first Black player to lead the NHL in goals and points and was the first Black athlete in any sport to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. A first-generation Canadian whose father is Nigerian and mother is American, Iginla owns arguably the biggest assist in Canada’s history of international hockey. He passed the puck to Sidney Crosby for Crosby’s “golden goal” at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Iginla is joined in the 2020 class by winger Marian Hossa, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women’s star Kim St. Pierre and longtime general manager Ken Holland.
In addition to two Olympic gold medals in three appearances, Iginla won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy twice as the NHL’s top goal-scorer and in 2003 won the Art Ross Trophy for the most points and Ted Lindsay Award as MVP voted by fellow players. He also won the Canadian junior Memorial Cup twice and world juniors, world championship and World Cup of Hockey once each.
A power forward on the wing with a prolific scoring touch, Iginla had 625 goals and 675 assists for 1,300 points in 1,554 regular-season NHL games for the Flames, Avalanche, Penguins and Kings. He had 68 points in 81 playoff games and most notably led Calgary to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.
“This selection is hard to believe and makes me reflect and look back on my career,” Iginla said. “I was always just trying to make the NHL and this recognition means a lot to me and my family.”
Hossa was also elected in his first year of eligibility and joins 2015 inductee Chris Pronger as the only players to go into the hall while still under contract. Like Pronger, Hossa qualified because he hasn’t played in three years and retired in 2018 because of a skin disorder.
A skilled, two-way winger, Hossa won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He reached the final two other times, had 149 points in 205 playoff games and finished with 1,134 points in 1,309 games with the Senators, Thrashers, Penguins, Red Wings and Blackhawks.
Lowe and Wilson had to wait much longer to get in after retiring in the 1990s. Holland made it in the builder category after winning the Cup three times with Detroit, and St. Pierre will be the seventh woman in the hall.
The 18-member selection committee voted remotely for the first time because of travel difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Those living in the Toronto area met in a conference room to determine the inductees, who got congratulatory calls from chairman of the board Lanny McDonald.
It’s unclear if the hall will hold its traditional in-person induction ceremony in November. The NHL is still working on trying to resume its season after suspending play in March, with the playoffs potentially extending into October and delaying the start of next season until December or January.