EDMONTON - It was well worth the wait for Glenn Anderson.
After a long hold out before finally entering the Hockey Hall of Fame last year, Anderson didn't have much of a delay before his name and number went up to the rafters at Rexall Place in Edmonton, where he won five Stanley Cups as a member of the Oilers.
Anderson's No. 9 was officially retired by the Oilers during a ceremony one hour before their game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.
"Like a great many other people I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get a chance to have this celebration," said Kevin Lowe, Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations and former teammate of Anderson, during the ceremony.
"Every one of the players from those great teams we had was unique, but Glenn Anderson was perhaps the most unique. He did everything his own way, both on and off the ice. But time and time again on the ice he demonstrated courage, unbelievable skill and grit. And when it was crunch-time, there was nobody better."
With the exception of former captain Al Hamilton, the Oilers have made it a habit only to retire the numbers of players that have entered the Hall of Fame and Anderson joined former teammates Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier in receiving the honour.
Anderson notched 498 goals, 601 assists and 1,099 points in 1,129 career games with Edmonton, St. Louis, Toronto and the New York Rangers, with whom he won a sixth Stanley Cup. He recorded nine-30 plus goal campaigns and twice went over the 50 goals scored marked. He also had three 100-plus point seasons.
But he will best be remembered for the importance of many of the goals he scored, earning the nickname Mr. Clutch for his ability to come through when a game was on the line.
"He's up there with the Messier's and the Richard's of the world when it come to scoring the big goals," Gretzky said. "If it was a 2-2 hockey game, especially late or in overtime, you could count on him to make the big play or score the big goal. That's what he was all about. The pressure never really bothered him."
Anderson was overwhelmed with the ceremony which included a bevy of former Oilers players and coaches.
"It is so great to be back in this uniform again," said Anderson, a Vancouver native. "Putting this jersey on is like coming home. Home is where the heart is and that's where my heart is, right here. To be surrounded by this group of guys that I had the honour of going to battle with and bring Edmonton five Stanley Cups with is really special.
"We had so many unbelievable moments in this building and to be here with these people, what a remarkable journey it has been."