O’Ree, Bettman, Brodeur among inductees into Hall of Fame
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame are, from left, Gary Bettman, Martin Brodeur, Jayna Hefford, Willie O'Ree, Martin St. Louis and Alexander Yakushev.
The Class of 2018 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday night.
It included Willie O’Ree and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the Builder’s category and players Martin Brodeur, Martin St. Louis, Jayna Hefford and Alexander Yakushev.
O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958 with the Boston Bruins and has been an ambassador for the NHL for more than 20 years. Bettman became the NHL’s first commissioner after the league was headed by presidents and led the league as it expanded from 24 to 31 teams, including franchises in such non-traditional states as Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Brodeur is the all-time leader among goaltenders in games (1,266), wins (691) and shutouts (125) and won three Stanley Cups. St. Louis won two Art Ross Trophies as the NHL scoring champion, a Hart Trophy as MVP and a Stanley Cup. Hefford won four Olympic gold medals with Canada. Yakushev, one of the first Russian stars, played in the 1972 Summit Series against Canada.
O’Ree, 83, is the third black person to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame – players Grant Fuhr and Angela James preceded him – and the first black person in the builder’s category.
"All I wanted to be was a hockey player," O'Ree said from the podium Monday night. "All I needed was the opportunity."
Bettman referred to how unpopular he is with many hockey fans.
“Everyone knows that my public appearances get an energetic reaction," Bettman joked during his speech. "I get booed when I present the Stanley Cup, particularly to a road team, but even from the home team, and at the draft.
"Tonight should erase any claim that election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is a popularity contest. Rather, I hope that my induction is a testament to what is clearly a collective contribution."
Also honored during Hockey Hall of Fame weekend were New York Post writer Larry Brooks, winner of the Elmer Ferguson Award for excellence in hockey journalism, and Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen, who earned the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.
Former Red Wings and HOF members Igor Larionov, Larry Murphy and Dino Ciccarelli played in the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic on Sunday night.