HHOF inducts global quartet

Sundin, Sakic, Bure, and Oates newest members

26.06.2012
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Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure and Joe Sakic are among the new inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Photos: Jani Rajamäki / Europhoto, Jeff Vinnick, Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

TORONTO – The Hockey Hall of Fame’s 18-man Selection Committee announced the newest inductees into its hall this afternoon. Highlighting the names who will be honoured at the gala evening in Toronto on November 12, 2012 are Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, and Adam Oates. Sundin was not only one of the finest NHLers of his generation; he was arguably the finest international star of the modern era. Bure, who was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame just last month, also had stellar careers in the NHL and for the Soviet Union/Russia. Sakic was a longtime captain of the Colorado Avalanche and is only the third Triple Gold Club member to be inducted. Oates is perhaps best known as a passer first, scorer second during a lengthy NHL career with seven teams. The first European drafted first overall, by Quebec in 1989, Sundin played 18 seasons in the NHL and achieved every statistical milestone expected of a Hall of Fame forward. In all, he finished with 564 goals and 1,349 career points in 1,346 regular-season games. He was captain of the Maple Leafs for 12 years, but the one blemish on his otherwise sensational record is that he wasn’t able to win a Stanley Cup. His play with Tre Kronor was another story. Sundin captained Sweden to Olympic gold in 2006, and at the 1991 IIHF World Championship he scored what is considered the greatest goal in that tournament’s history, making an end-to-end rush which included a perfect deke on Vyacheslav Fetisov and scoring to give Sweden a 2-1 over Russia and the gold medal. In all, he won seven WM medals (three gold) and also played in the 1991 Canada Cup and 1996 and 2004 World Cups, being quite possibly the best player in 1996. When he donned the Three Crowns sweater of his native Sweden, he elevated his game accordingly. Bure’s exploits were similar to but different from Sundin’s. That is, he was a star in the NHL for 12 seasons before a knee injury forced him into early retirement in 2003, but he was nicknamed the “Russian Rocket” in honour of his heritage and in homage to Rocket Richard, the great Canadiens scoring star who was both a goalscoring wizard and a tremendous skater. The name was apt, though, because Bure could put the puck in the net like few others. He scored at least 50 goals five times, and two of those seasons were 60-goal gems, with Vancouver. He brought people out of their seats with his tremendous speed and puckhandling, but like Sundin he never won the Stanley Cup. Bure first came to prominence in international hockey at the 1989 IIHF World Junior Championship. He, Alexander Mogilny, and Sergei Fyodorov stole the show in Alaska, as this troika of Soviets clearly defined themselves as the next generation of stars. They all ended up leaving for the NHL, but before he did Bure won a gold and two silver at the U20. He later won a silver and bronze at the Olympics and a gold at the World Championship. Joe Sakic is, quite simply, one of the finest players ever to skate on a sheet of ice. The 12th member of the Triple Gold Club, he was brilliant in the NHL and for Team Canada. In 20 NHL seasons, he won the Stanley Cup twice, with Colorado in 1996 and 2001, the franchise for which he played his entire career. He had 1,641 points in 1,378 regular-season games, and another 188 points in 172 playoff games. He captained the Avs for 18 years, and only Fetisov and Igor Larionov are TGC members as well as Hall of Famers. For Canada, Sakic won gold at all levels, starting with the 1988 junior team. He won gold at the 1994 World Championship, and then Olympic gold in 2002. He also played for Canada’s victorious World Cup team in 2004. Known for his quick snapshot, sportsmanlike play, and tremendous leadership, Sakic represented the game with an integrity and dedication worthy of his Hockey Hall of Fame honour. At first blush Oates might seem like the surprise member of the Class of 2012, yet his credentials are impressive all the same. Perhaps the most astounding fact about his induction and sensational career is that he was never drafted. He signed as a free agent with Detroit in 1985 and played his first four NHL seasons with the Red Wings. He later played two and a half years with St. Louis, centering Brett Hull, but Oates played the majority of his career with Boston and Washington. Known as a passer much more than a scorer, he had 1,040 assists and 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games. The closest he came to winning the Cup was in 1998 when the Capitals went to the finals, only to be swept aside by Detroit. A native of Weston, Ontario, just outside Toronto, Oates never played for Team Canada internationally. Nevertheless, today will be a memorable one for him. Not only did he get a "call to the hall," he also got a call to become the new head coach of the Washington Capitals. No women were chosen for the second year in a row even though they became eligible in 2010 when Angela James and Cammi Granato were inducted, still the only two women so honoured. ANDREW PODNIEKS

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