On Monday night, the Hockey Hall of Fame honored one of the best induction classes of all time, and they honored many former coaches and teammates and who helped them get there.
On Monday night, the Hockey Hall of Fame honored one of the best induction classes of all time. The class, highlighted by Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Chris Pronger, is a who’s who of NHL superstars from the 1990s and early 2000s.
Here are the highlights from their induction speeches.
Housley paid tribute to his first coach with the Buffalo Sabres, Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman.
“[Bowman] picked me in the first round, sixth overall. They took a chance on a high school kid that probably weighed 165 pounds soaking wet and gave me an opportunity.
He also touched on a hot-button issue in youth sports today – focusing on just one sport.
“If there’s one message I’d like to deliver, it’s why are kids focusing on one sport? I remember playing football, hockey, and baseball when I was and looked forward to the change of sports and seasons. I got the chance to meet new friends and just enjoy being a kid… there’s always time for the sport you love.
Lidstrom drew laughter for a story about when he first arrived in Detroit as a rookie from Sweden. He said he knew so little about the history of the Detroit Red Wings that he asked to wear No. 9, which, of course, was worn by Gordie Howe.
“I got my first lesson in Red Wings history,” Lidstrom said.
Lidstrom also praised Steve Yzerman for being a mentor on and off the ice.
"I had a lot of learning to do both on and off the ice," Lidstrom said. "I had to learn to be a pro, learn to lead, learn what it takes to win and I learned it from Steve Yzerman. His dedication was at a level I had never seen before. The lessons I learned from Steve were some of the biggest reasons why I was so successful.”
Fedorov echoed both Housley and Lidstrom in thanking Scotty Bowman.
“Not only the greatest hockey coach, but he's a great human being. He showed me a lot, taught me a lot, he made me understand and realize what life is all about, on the ice and off the ice.”
He also singled out Bryan Murray, a former coach, and now GM of the Senators who is battling colon cancer.
“Bryan is fighting for his life. One day I gave him a call and we had a conversation. He was doing great and I wish him all the best. My thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Pronger praised the coaches and teams that helped him early on in his career, from his high school coaches in Dryden, Ont., to Junior B, to the OHL’s Peterborough Petes.
“They believed in my abilities and provided me the tools to become a better player,” Pronger said of the coaches in Stratford, Ont., where he played a season of Junior B with the Cullitons.
Pronger paid tribute to two other special people, his brother, former NHLer Sean, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, a former St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineman.
"Thank you for showing what a Hall of Famer should act like,” Pronger said about Dierdorf.
The former U.S. women’s national team defender honored the other defensemen in the 2015 class.
“What a phenomenal defensemen class. I picked up a few tricks watching you guys.”