STOCKHOLM – Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Paul Henderson, Teppo Numminen, and Danielle Goyette became the latest five legendary players inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame at an unforgettable gala ceremony in Stockholm on Sunday.
Click here for the full induction ceremony video (90 minutes).
Jan-Åke Edvinsson, the General Secretary of the IIHF from 1986 to 2006, was inducted in the builders’ category. There are now 189 inductees from 22 countries in the IIHF Hall of Fame.
In addition, TSN broadcaster Gord Miller received the Paul Loicq Award for outstanding contributions to international hockey. The Soviet Union team that won the 1954 IIHF World Championship was given the Milestone Award, acknowledging its ground-breaking role at the dawn of the modern era of international hockey.
IIHF President René Fasel, who doubles as the Chairman of the IIHF Historical Committee, described it as “a truly amazing class of inductees”.
Forsberg is one of only three players – along with Russia’s Vyacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov – to have captured “double Triple Gold Club” honours (winning the Olympics, World Championship and Stanley Cup twice).
Best-known in his NHL days as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, this fixture in the Swedish roster holds the single-tournament World Junior scoring record with a whopping 31 points (1993). Named Best Forward at the 1998 World Championship, the powerful playmaking forward scored the winning shootout goal at the 1994 Olympics and assisted on Nicklas Lidström’s winner at the 2006 Olympics.
Forsberg was inducted by Swedish heptathlon star Carolina Klüft, who said she was inspired by watching his end-to-end goal in Sweden’s 6-5 comeback win against Finland in the 2003 quarter-finals.
“I loved playing in the big tournaments,” said Forsberg, who recalled the leadership Sundin showed in Turin and especially on the ‘06 winner. He quipped: “Thank God I didn’t go in front of the net or Lidström would have killed me with that shot!”
Sundin enjoyed a great career as the longtime captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but his accomplishments on the international stage were even greater. This classy Swedish center won three World Championships and one Olympic gold (2006), cracking international all-star teams on five different occasions. Last year, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the second Swede so honoured after Borje Salming. Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt inducted him here.
Retired since 2009, Sundin reminisced fondly about his parents driving him and his two brothers around to Stockholm rinks. He described how Sweden’s 1987 World Championship victory, with Tomas Sandstrom’s famous goal against the Soviets, provided him with inspiration. “To play hockey, you need passion, determination, strong will, and maybe a little bit of madness,” he said.
“Henderson has scored for Canada!” Those words by legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt heralded Paul Henderson’s signature accomplishment in international hockey – scoring the winning goal for Canada in Game Eight of the epoch-making 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Incredibly, this savvy Ontario-born forward tallied the winners in Games Six and Seven as well. He played close to 1,100 games in a 19-year pro career, and also returned internationally in the WHA’s 1974 Summit Series with the Soviets.
Henderson was introduced by Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak, the most decorated player in international hockey history and Henderson’s foe in ‘72. “Thank you for letting me score that last goal,” Henderson joked with Tretiak. “I’ve been riding that goal for 40 years, and it’s been a nice ride.”
“The Russians were a lot better than we ever thought they were,” Henderson told IIHF.com afterwards. “I think that really started international hockey on a major league scale. We knew there were other nations out there. But [at this World Championship], look, Canada’s not even in the top four. It’s sad, but that’s just how good hockey is getting around the world today.”
The international hockey family was happy to hear that Henderson’s health is improving after he received a cancer diagnosis back in 2009. He thanked his wife of 50 years, Eleanor, for making their home an “oasis away from hockey”.
Numminen ranks among Finland’s all-time greatest defenceman. Four was a magic number for the Tampere native, as he played in four Olympics, four Worlds, and four Canada Cups. His highlights included capturing Olympic silver in 1988 and 2006. At the time of his retirement, he had played more NHL games than any other European (1,372) with four different clubs.
He was praised by former Tappara Tampere and Suomi teammate Timo Jutila, who called Numminen “a smart player, the best defenceman ever created in Finland”.
With consummate skill and perseverance, Goyette forged her reputation as a longtime scoring star on Canada’s national women’s team. A three-time Olympian and nine-time World Championship participant, she won gold in every case except for the 1998 Olympics and 2005 Worlds. The native of St. Nazaire, Quebec.
“She was a better player at 41 than at 26,” noted former Swedish women’s national team coach Peter Elander. “Fortunately for me, she stopped playing in 2007, and my therapist was very happy.”
As well as lauding her past teammates and coaches, Goyette spoke highly of her fellow IIHF Hall of Fame inductees. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have any female hockey players as role models,” she said. “You guys were my heroes. Peter Forsberg, I played with your curve for many years – I guess it worked. I will cherish this moment for a lifetime.”
Miller, the Paul Loicq Award winner, has traveled to broadcast the World Juniors for TSN each year since 1995. He’s now considered the “top broadcaster in the National Hockey League”, according to Hockey Canada President & CEO and IIHF Vice President Bob Nicholson.
Miller fondly pointed out how the milestones in his life with his wife, Sarah, have centered on the World Juniors, from their early dating to the birth of their daughter. “Hockey enlightens, teaches, entertains, and exhilarates us,” said Miller.
Legendary Russian forward Boris Mikhailov gave a speech on behalf of the 1954 Soviet World Championship-winning team, which inspired him to play hockey as a 10-year-old boy growing up in Moscow. Two members of that team, Viktor Shuvalov and Alexander Komarov are still alive, but they’re in their 90s and no longer able to travel long distances.
With tongue-in-cheek humour, Mikhailov addressed a few special words to Paul Henderson: “I remember our battles in 1972 as if it was yesterday. It’s almost incredible that 40 years have passed – and we still look so good!”
Jan-Åke Edvinsson, a native of Trolle Ljungby, Sweden, was hailed for his objectivity - during 21 years of dedicated service to the IIHF - by former IIHF Vice President Murray Costello. “There never was a time, not even once, that Jan-Åke made a decision that [showed favoritism] toward Sweden,” said Costello. “The finances of the IIHF have remained healthy and strong, and we can thank Jan-Åke for this.”
The IIHF had grown to 64 member nations participating in 29 international tournaments by the time Edvinsson retired. He is already a member of the German and Slovenian Hockey Halls of Fame.
IOC President Jacques Rogge concluded the ceremony with a memorable address. Rogge, a former rugby player, said: “I’m not a member of the hockey family, but I have a special affection for your sport.” After recounting his favourite hockey moments from past Olympics, he expressed his hope that a deal will soon be finalized to send NHL players to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The jerseys worn by the inductees during the ceremony are being auctioned off for charities of their choice until Monday night. Click here for more information.
To view complete biographies, click here.