DETROIT – Monday was a big day for four former NHL stars that learned they will be forever immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony this fall.
The 18-person committee selected a uniquely diverse class of players that included a Swede, a Czech, and Canadian and an American.
Hasek won the Vezina Trophy six times during his 16-season NHL career, tying him for second most all time behind Montreal’s Jacques Plante. Hasek, who helped the Red Wings capture the 2002 Stanley Cup, is the only goaltender to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in consecutive seasons (1996-97 and 1997-98).
Already a star in his native Czechoslovakia, Hasek posted 389 wins in the NHL, which remains ranked No. 11 in league history, and led the league in save percentage a remarkable six times. He also led the Czech Republic to the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Hasek is among the franchise’s all-time goaltending leaders, ranked No. 8 in wins (114) and No. 4 in shutouts (20). His 2.13 goals-against average ranks best among Red Wings goalies with more than 150 games played.
Modano began his amateur hockey career in metro Detroit with the Little Caesars hockey program before becoming the most-prolific American goal scorer in NHL history, producing 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 career games.
He finished his 22-season NHL career with his hometown Red Wings in the 2010-11 season when he scored four goals with 11 assists in 40 games.
Modano’s the second Michigan-born player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mark Howe, who was inducted three years ago, was the first.
The inductions of Hasek and Modano – which will occur during a ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 17 – will gives the Red Wings 75 individuals with ties to the franchise enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame conducted a teleconference with the new inductees. Here is what Hasek and Modano had to say:
His opening remarks:
“What a great honor for me to be inducted. What can I say? After a long time in Czech Republic, coming to North America, what a fantastic time I spent there. So many great players. I’m thankful I played for such a long time and with such great players.”
On playing with so many future Hall of Famers on 2001-02 team – Igor Larionov, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scotty Bowman, next year Nicklas Lidstrom and in future possibly Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Datsyuk:
“I’m the seventh player to be inducted into Hall of Fame from that team? It was one of my best years that I played hockey. I came in from Day 1, never played with so many great players, so many stars. Our goal from Day 1 was to win the Cup. Nothing else.
“I never played before or after with so many great players. I played that year also for the greatest coach ever in hockey.”
On keys to his success and how he developed his unique style:
“It was a difficult time in my career in 1992. I was thinking about going back to Europe. I was in the minors in Indianapolis. I’m happy I stayed. The best thing that happened to be was being traded to Buffalo. It gave me the chance to prove I could play at the highest level. For a (skater), you can break in on the third line, but for a goalie it’s different, you have to wait until you get a chance. I got that chance in Buffalo and I was ready. Thank you to Buffalo.
“Every player and goalie has a different style. What works for one player might not work for another player. My flexibility … I was more flexible than any goalie in the world.
“I want to say thank you to so many people who helped me become the goalie I was.”
On getting elected to Hall of Fame:
“What an amazing phone call to get. Just speechless. I’m at a loss for words at what this has really meant to me. To all of us to get a call like this and to be recognized from some great individual that are involved in the game of hockey. Certainly want to thank the Hall of Fame, thank the Hall of Fame committee, the fans in Dallas and the fans in Minnesota, Prince Albert. It’s been an amazing run and certainly this caps off this tremendous time I had playing the game. Been lucky and fortunate enough to be involved in the game a long time and be around some individuals who helped along the way, without their help and their loyalty I certainly wouldn’t be here talking to you.”
On his time with the Red Wings during 2010-11, his final NHL season:
“I was just grateful for the opportunity to come back home and play in front of family and friends and play for a team that I obviously grew up watching for a lot of years. But that experience was nonetheless very memorable. Having the opportunity to be around Kenny Holland and Mike Babcock all year and the great Ilitch family was a good experience for me. It was an opportunity for a new chapter, just to go home and play but one that I don’t regret doing. It was a lot of fun. I got to play obviously with some great players, some world-class talent there in Detroit. Unfortunately it was cut short with my tendons in my wrist getting cut but I would have loved to have had another crack at another year or two there if I stayed healthy. But nonetheless another great stepping stone, another great chapter that is very memorable.”
On election to Hall of Fame topping his career accomplishments:
“This obviously trumps them all. This is kind of the one thing that once you retire that you wonder if you had a big enough impact on the game on and off the ice that you might get this call in a couple years. It all just kind of lingers in the back of our mind. It wasn’t until the last couple weeks it got more and more publicity and talked about and written about. Obviously it does start crossing your mind if you’re worthy enough in the eyes of the committee and their selection process.
“To that point, it never crossed my mind until a couple weeks ago. But certainly it’s the pinnacle. It’s the ultimate recognition a player could ever have or ever get amongst his peers and the guys he played with. The guys I’m going in with are certainly some of the best guys and players the game had to offer. It’s the top, no question.”
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