Fuhr, LaFontaine, Kilrea enter Hockey Hall of Fame

Grant Fuhr led the list of honourees at Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame 2003 induction ceremony.

Joining Fuhr for enshrinement in the Hall were forward Pat LaFontaine, Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and junior hockey coach Brian Kilrea.

Fuhr won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers during a spectacular career that saw him win 403 games in 868 appearances with Edmonton, Toronto, Buffalo, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Calgary.

Fuhr's personal accolades include the 1987-88 Vezina Trophy, given to the league's top goaltender, and a share of the 1993-94 William M. Jennings Trophy. He was also a six-time all-star and runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 1988.

His career wasn't without its speed bumps, however, as in 1990 he was suspended for six months by the NHL for admitting to drug use earlier in his career. He was a backup on the 1990 Edmonton team that won the Stanley Cup.

Fuhr is the first black player to be inducted. After his induction, the humble netminder paid tribute to Willie O'Ree, who in 1957 was the first black player in the NHL and is now involved in the league's minorities programs.

"It's a special honour but it's not something I ever really grew up with," explained Fuhr, 41. "I mean, having got to know Willie and all the things Willie went through, by the time I got to play all the doors had been opened.

"I was just another player by the time I got there."

LaFontaine played 15 seasons in the NHL for the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers, scoring 468 goals and assisting on 545 others during that time. He ranks second all-time among American-born skaters in goal scoring, trailing only Joe Mullen (502).

Plagued by concussions in his career, LaFontaine won the Bill Masterton Trophy with the Sabres in 1994-95. That award is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. LaFontaine's playing career ended in 1998 due to his continuous problems with head injuries.

"To be here with these three guys, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," LaFontaine said during interviews after the four received their rings and blazers.

Ilitch, elected in the builder's category, purchased the Red Wings from the Norris family in 1982 and re-built the club into a dominant force. Thus far under his ownership, Detroit has won nine Division titles, four Western Conference Championships and three Stanley Cups.

Kilrea also went in as a builder. He took over as general manager/head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's in 1974-75 and has held the post since, with the exception of three seasons -- two of which saw him serve on Al Arbour's New York Islanders coaching staff.

Kilrea, who still coaches the Ottawa club, has won over 1,000 games with the 67's while guiding them to a pair of Memorial Cup championships. His resume also includes three OHL titles and four OHL Coach of the Year awards.

"I feel like I'm representing a lot of amateur coaches who prepare players for the NHL," said Kilrea, 69. "I'm here mainly because of the players who played for me. If it weren't for their efforts, Brian Kilrea isn't here."

with files from Sports Network and Canadian Press