TORONTO – The list of 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees is rife with international excellence. Indeed the group of players Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Daniel Goyette, Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk, and builders Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs have combined for twelve Olympic appearances, capturing three gold medals, plus participation in no fewer than 19 World Championships.
Both Goyette and Selanne are members of the IIHF Hall of Fame, inducted in 2013 and 2017 respectively.
That Selanne, the highest-scoring Finnish player in NHL history, received the honour of enshrinement in his first year of eligibility comes as a surprise to no one. His trademark number 8 is retired not only by the Anaheim Ducks franchise with whom he starred for 15 of his twenty-one NHL seasons, but also by his native country of Finland.
Selanne represented his nation at an astonishing total of six Olympic tournaments between 1992 and 2014. He remains the highest scorer in Olympic history, compiling 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists) in 37 games. The “Finnish Flash” cemented his legendary status on the international stage at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, when – at age 43 – he was named the Most Valuable Player at the tournament.
“My club team Jokerit was very important to me,” Selanne said. “I’m so proud that for 26 years I put the Finnish jersey on, for six Olympics, two World Cups and four World Championships.”
It is only fitting that Paul Kariya, who Selanne said is ‘the best player (the Finn) ever played with’, is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame in the same year as his former Ducks teammate. Between 1996 and 2001, Kariya and Selanne were a potent, dynamic duo on the west coast. Although Kariya – a five-time NHL All-Star – didn’t have the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup alongside his close friend Selanne, the crafty playmaker and lethal sharpshooter won international gold medals with Team Canada on three occasions.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t get the chance to play with you,” Kariya, during his acceptance speech, said to Selanne from the podium. “We will always be brothers, in this life and the next.”
Kariya first triumphed internationally with his Canadian teammates at the 1993 World Junior Championship, then claimed gold one year later at the senior World Championship when, after a nail-biting shootout, Canada won the tournament for the first time in 33 years. By far the apex of his international career came at the 2002 Olympics where Kariya helped his country end a half-century gold medal drought at the Winter Games.
The 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA, represented a double gold medal victory in hockey for Canada. Three days before the men sang the national anthem at the E Center rink, the women had staged an upset over the host Americans, and among them was Danielle Goyette.
Goyette, a native of Saint-Nazaire, Quebec, took up the sport of hockey when she was 15 years old, during an era where there were no girls’ teams on which to play, instead skating with women who were nearly three times her age. Persevering to pursue her dream of starring at the game she loved, Goyette caught the attention of the Canadian National Women’s Team.
“When we found out that women’s hockey would be at the Olympics, in Nagano in 1998, I decided I was going to do everything in my power to make the team,” Goyette said. Canada lost a heartbreaking 3-1 decision to the United States at the women’s hockey debut, but turned the tables on their North American rivals four years later.
Goyette’s Olympic swan song came in Turin, Italy, in 2006, a tournament at which the player was chosen to be Canada’s flag bearer at the Games, in recognition of her legendary tenure wearing the maple leaf. Canada toppled Sweden 4-1 to defend its title.
She retired in 2008 as the second all-time goal scorer (15) in women’s Olympic hockey. Her total of 68 points at the Women’s World Championships placed her fourth in that category at the time that she hung up her skates.
Neither Mark Recchi nor Dave Andreychuk won Olympic medals but both players – who forged their careers by stationing themselves in front of the net to do the ‘dirty’ work – enjoyed their share of international success.
Recchi, a standout junior player with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League, was part of the 1988 gold medal-winning Canadian team at the World Junior Championship. He played in three senior World Championships, winning gold in 1997. One year later, Recchi was part of the first wave of NHL participation at the Olympics. But Canada suffered a shootout loss to the Czech Republic in the semi-finals, then bowed out to Finland in the bronze medal game.
The tenacious forward is ranked twelfth all-time in NHL regular season scoring with 1,533 points, and has played the fourth-most game, 1,652 in history. He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh, Carolina and Boston, one of only eleven players to accomplish the feat with three different teams.
Andreychuk saved his best hockey for special teams situations, namely the power play. His NHL career total of 274 power-play goals is the highest of all-time. A first-round draft choice of the Buffalo Sabres, Andreychuk also skated for Toronto, New Jersey, Boston and Colorado before joining Tampa Bay, where the veteran was named team captain. In 2004 the Lightning outlasted the Calgary Flames in a gruelling seven-game Stanley Cup Final, and the Hamilton, Ontario native was finally a champion.
At the 1983 World Championship in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Soviet Union, Andreychuk recorded six goals and eleven points in seven games to lead the bronze-winning Canadians in scoring.
“Kind of slow at times, really slow a lot of the time. Not a lot of highlight reel goals,” Andreychuk said of his playing style.
The godfather of Canadian university coaching, Clare Drake, is the all-time winningest coach in Canadian Interuniversity Sport with 697 victories behind the bench. He led the University of Alberta Golden Bears to six national titles during his 28-year tenure with the team. At the 1980 Olympics, when the United States famously staged the Miracle On Ice in Lake Placid, New York, Drake was at the helm for Team Canada.
“We had three great coaches, Clare Drake, Tom Watt and Lorne Davis,” recalled 1980 team member Glenn Anderson. “I think that team splitting the team up at Christmas time, and not keeping us together and building our chemistry was a big mistake.” Canada failed to qualify for the medal round and finished sixth.
Jeremy Jacobs, the long-time Owner and Governor of the Boston Bruins, oversaw the franchise through six Stanley Cup Final appearances, including a championship in 2011. In 2015 he was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for his service to hockey in the United States.
ROB DEL MUNDO