Brodeur, O’Ree lead Hall of Fame Class of 2018
The new Hall of Fame members are Martin Brodeur, perhaps the greatest goalie ever, and Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier.
Few were surprised that Martin Brodeur would get the call in his first year of eligibility, while many wondered why Willie O’Ree has had to wait for so many years.
Brodeur and O’Ree lead the 2018 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame, which was announced on Tuesday.
Joining them are Martin St. Louis, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Alexander Yakushev and Jayna Hefford. They will be inducted into the HHOF on Nov. 12 in Toronto.
Brodeur, arguably the greatest goaltender in NHL history, blended the stand-up and butterfly techniques along with being an outstanding puck handler for a goalie. His stats are mind-boggling:
He holds the all-time NHL records for wins (691), shutouts (125), games played by a goaltender (1,266), saves (28,928), minutes played (74,438), 30-win seasons (14), consecutive 30-win seasons (12), consecutive 35-win seasons (11), 40-win seasons (eight) and consecutive 40-win seasons (three) in a 21-season career (1993-94 to 2014-15).
He shares the record of 48 wins in a season – with Washington’s Braden Holtby – in which Brodeur donned the pads for the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues.
He backstopped three New Jersey teams built around him and Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens to three Stanley Cups – the first in 1995, when the Devils swept the Red Wings in the Cup Final.
He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie four times, the Jennings Trophy – for playing at least 25 games for the team that allowed the fewest goals – five times and the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 1994.
O’Ree, who was elected in the Builder’s category, was the first black player in the NHL (Jan. 18, 1958 with the Boston Bruins). During his NHL career, he had four goals and 14 points in 45 games.
O’Ree was hired by the NHL in 1998 as the league’s director of youth development and an ambassador for NHL diversity.
He handed out the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award during the NHL Awards Ceremony last week. It was won posthumously by Darcy Haugan, the coach and GM of the Humboldt Broncos who died in that team’s tragic accident this spring.
“There are a select few about whom it truly can be said: ‘He changed the game.’ Willie O’Ree is among that select few,” Bettman told NHL.com. “He did it by stepping onto the ice of the Montreal Forum in a Boston Bruins sweater on Jan. 18, 1958. He has done it just about every day since, inspiring generations of NHL players who followed the path he blazed and working tirelessly to encourage and enable countless boys and girls, who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, to participate in our game and learn the many life lessons it teaches. We are truly delighted at Willie’s well-earned selection.”
St. Louis, a 5-8 undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont who’s also in his first year of eligibility, had 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames and New York Rangers in a 16-season career from 1998-99 to 2014-15. He won a Stanley Cup, two Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer, a Hart Trophy as the league MVP, a Lester B. Pearson (now Ted Lindsay) Trophy as the NHL Players Association most outstanding player, a Bud Light Plus-Minus Award and three Lady Byng trophies as the NHL’s most gentlemanly and sportsmanlike player.
Bettman, who was also elected in the Builder’s category, has been NHL Commissioner since Feb. 1, 1993.
Yakushev was a star in the USSR with Spartak Moscow and starred in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. He led the Soviets with 11 points (seven goals and four assists) in the eight-game series. Yakushev won Olympic gold medals with the Soviet Union in 1972 and 1976 and helped the USSR win seven IIHF World Championships.
Hefford played for the Canadian Women’s team at five Winter Olympics and won four gold medals. She scored the gold medal-winning goal in the 2002 Olympics against the U.S. in Salt Lake City and is one of five athletes to win gold at four consecutive Olympics.
Hefford also helped Canada win seven gold medals and five silvers at the IIHF Women’s World championships.
In addition, Joe Bowen, longtime radio voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs, will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster, and Larry Brooks of the New York Post will receive the Elmer Ferguson Award for excellence in hockey journalism.