Hockey Hall of Fame: What you need to know about the class of 2014

Hockey Hall of Fame: What you need to know about the class of 2014


Burns, Blake, Modano, Forsberg, McCreary should resonate with millennial hockey fans

by Tim Wharnsby for CBC Sports
 

As often happens with each Hockey Hall of Fame class, the inductees have crossed paths at various times in their careers.

Members of this year’s class -- Mike Modano, Dominik Hasek, Rob Blake, Pat Burns and Bill McCreary -- have shared the spotlight on and off the ice at various times, earning their fame from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.

Four fun facts about this year’s inductees:

  • In 1999, Modano celebrated a Stanley Cup championship after Brett Hull’s controversial goal in triple overtime against Hasek, and his Buffalo Sabres. One of the two referees in that game was Bill McCreary.

  • On the road to the 1999 Stanley Cup final, Hasek beat Burns and his Boston Bruins in the second round. Burns and his Toronto Maple Leafs also were on the wrong end when Blake and the Kings were the victors in Game 7 of the 1992-93 Western Conference final.

  • In 1998, Hasek stopped all five Canadian shootout attempts in the Olympic semifinals in Japan as Blake anxiously sat on the Canadian bench. McCreary was the ref.

  • Forsberg and Blake won the Stanley Cup together on the Avalanche. McCreary was the referee on their Cup-winning night in 2001. He was also officiating when Forsberg won his first NHL championship with Colorado in 1996.

Here’s a glance at each of the members of the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame class.

 

 
Pat Burns took the Habs to the Stanley Cup final in 1988-89. Pat Burns took the Habs to the Stanley Cup final in 1988-89.

Pat Burns

The passionate Burns was at his best in his first year with his four different NHL teams. He won the coach-of-the-year Jack Adams Trophy in each of his first seasons with the Montreal Canadiens (1988-89), the Maple Leafs (1992-93) and Bruins (1997-98).

He took the Habs to the Stanley Cup final in 1988-89 and guided the Leafs to two straight Conference finals in 1992-93 and 1993-94. But it was his first season with the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03 that Burns finally attained his goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

Unfortunately for Burns, he would be a head coach only for one more season before he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005.

He was an assistant under Ken Hitchcock with the Canadian contingent at the 2008 world championship, but his cancer spread to his liver and then lungs. He passed away at age 58 on November 19, 2010.

For years after his diagnosis, there was a push from many Burns supporters to expedite his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Unfortunately the honour didn’t come soon enough for the legendary coach to make an acceptance speech.

Before Burns began to coach junior for the Hull Olympiques in the mid-1980s, he was a policeman. He won a QMJHL championship with Hull in 1985-86 and lost 6-2 in the Memorial Cup final that spring to the Guelph Platers.

The coach touched many people in a positive manner and his legacy continues in his hometown of Stanstead in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where Stanstead College has an arena named after Burns.

 

Rob Blake

The Kings had such high hopes for Blake that after his third season at Bowling Green University that he was summoned to Los Angeles to play in the final four regular season games and in the club’s run to the second round of the 1990 playoffs.

When he showed up at the Forum for his NHL debut, Blake found himself sitting at a locker stall between two future Hall of Famers, Wayne Gretzky and Larry Robinson.

He celebrated only a single Stanley Cup championship as a player – with the Avalanche in 2000-01 – compared to Robinson’s six titles and Gretzky’s four NHL titles. But Blake won just about everything else. He's a member of the Triple Gold Club as a 1994 and 1997 world champion with Canada, Stanley Cup winner and Olympic gold-medal champ.

Blake, now 45 and the Kings assistant GM, also managed to win the 1997-98 Norris Trophy and may have been awarded the defenceman of the year title more often had he not played in an era that included Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Nik Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Chris Pronger.

 
Peter Forsberg put his stamp on hockey history with this shootout goal against Canada at the 1994 Olympics. Peter Forsberg put his stamp on hockey history with this shootout goal against Canada at the 1994 Olympics.

Peter Forsberg

Even though he was often injured, Forsberg managed to play in 1,088 professional regular season and playoff games in the NHL and Swedish Elitserien as well as another 63 international outings for Sweden.

Like Blake, the 41-year-old nicknamed Foppa is also a Triple Gold Club member. But he won two of each: 1994 and 2006 Olympic gold, 1995-96 and 2000-01 Stanley Cups as well the 1992 and 1998 world crowns.

About the only championship he never won was a Swedish Elitserien title. He came close in 1994. His Modo team won the series opener, but after Forsberg fell ill his team didn't win another game in the final.

At .898 assists per game, the Örnsköldsvik, Sweden native ranks fifth all time behind Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr and Sidney Crosby. Forsberg’s 1.25 points per game puts him seventh all time.

Before he played his first NHL game for the Quebec Nordiques in 1995, Forsberg scored the shootout-deciding goal in the 1994 Olympic final. His move, in which he reached around Canadian goalie Corey Hirsch to slide the puck past his glove hand, was commemorated on a Swedish stamp.

 
Dominik Hasek highlight reel saves.

Dominik Hasek

His 28-season professional career spanned three decades, beginning at age 16 with his hometown HC Pardubice to become the youngest to play in the Czechoslovak Extraliga history. He ended his career at age 46 with HC Spartak Moscow.

There was chatter of another kick at the NHL can in 2012, but Hasek retired when the lockout delayed the season.

The Chicago Blackhawks drafted him in the 10th round in 1983, but he didn’t join the organization until 1990. He saw little action behind Ed Belfour. Hasek’s break came when he was traded to Buffalo in 1992. He went on to win six Vezina Trophies, one shy of Jacques Plante’s record of seven, and captured Hart Trophies in 1996-97 and 1998-99.

He steered Buffalo to the 1999 Stanley Cup final and celebrated the prized NHL championship trophy with the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings.

Hasek won a Stanley Cup, 1998 Olympic gold, but never a world championship. He came close with silver in 1983 and three bronze medals. His national team won seven world titles during Hasek’s pro career, but he either didn’t make the team, was injured like in 2005 when he was recovering from sports hernia surgery or he was busy in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 
Mike Modano gets sized for his Hall of Fame jacket and reflects on the experience.

Mike Modano

Like many young hockey players of his generation, the 1980 U.S. Olympic team inspired him. He was a few months shy of his 10th birthday and competing in a tournament in Port Huron, Mich. when the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid played out.

His teammates, opponents, parents and coaches gathered around a hotel lobby television to celebrate the U.S.’s improbable win over the Soviet Union.

Modano, who played junior for the Prince Albert Raiders, suited up for the U.S. in two world juniors, three world championships, a Canada Cup, two World Cup events and three Olympics.

He became the most productive American-born player with 619 goals and 1,416 points in 1,675 NHL regular season and playoff games. He has an arena named after him in Westland, Mich., where he played his minor hockey.

Modano is now an executive advisor for Dallas. Like Blake, who will have his No. 4 retired by the Kings on Jan. 17, the Stars will bestow the same honour for Modano’s No. 9 in March.

Last year, he married pro golfer Allison Micheletti, the daughter of former Blues defenceman and current Rangers analyst Joe Micheletti. The couple had twins in the summer.

 

Bill McCreary

Before he worked the final game at Maple Leaf Gardens and Gretzky’s swan song at MSG, he was a speedy forward with the Windsor Spitfires in the mid-1970s. He, however, returned home to Guelph when his junior career stalled.

A friend, Terry Finley, suggested he try officiating. McCreary was a natural. He had a feel for the game and deft on-ice communication skills, which made him a favourite with players and coaches.

The 58-year-old McCreary, who now mentors young NHL officials, refereed 1,737 regular-season games and 297 playoff games, including a record 44 outings in the Stanley Cup final which snapped Bill Chadwick’s record of 43.

McCreary’s first game in Washington (Devils at Capitals) on Nov. 3, 1984 and his final match game was in Washington (Sabres at Capitals) on April 2, 2011. Internationally, he officiated the 1998, 2002 and 2010 Olympic finals, and during the 2004-05 lockout cancelled season he went to Davos, Switzerland to referee in the Spengler Cup.

When he was assigned the 2002 Olympic final between Canada and the United States in Salt Lake City, he became the first Canadian to referee a game between the North American rivals.

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