Paul Kariya always felt as if he knew where Teemu Selanne was on the ice when they had spectacular chemistry together as teammates.
On Monday, Selanne pulled a new trick, telling Kariya where he was going: the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Before Kariya got the call that he was being inducted, Selanne delivered the news that the dynamic duo that thrilled hockey in Anaheim for several years was going to be inducted together this fall.
The longtime Ducks teammates headline the Hall of Fame’s class of 2017, which includes the long-overdue additions of Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk and longtime Canadian university coach Clare Drake. Canadian star Danielle Goyette became the fifth women’s player elected, and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs got in as part of the builder category.
Selanne was the only player elected in his first year of eligibility after putting up 1,457 points in 1,451 games over 21 NHL seasons. The “Finnish Flash” was a 10-time All-Star, had 76 goals as a rookie with Winnipeg in 1992-93 that still stands as one of his 18 NHL records and won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.
“When I look back, I shake my head and say how lucky I was in so many different ways and so thankful that I was able to play for so many years,” Selanne said.
He and Kariya played together for parts of six seasons with the Ducks, helping hockey grow in Southern California in the 1990s, and then another with Colorado. Kariya had his career cut short by concussion problems, finishing with 989 points in as many games.
“I didn’t retire willingly,” said Kariya, who won an Olympic gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Olympics. “I would’ve loved to have kept playing. If there was any way of waving a magic wand and getting the opportunity to live through my entire career, the good and the bad, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Recchi’s election in his fourth year of eligibility ended a curious omission for a player who won the Cup three times — once each with Pittsburgh (1991), Carolina (2006) and Boston (2011) — and is 12th in NHL scoring with 1,533 points. Every other retired player in the top 28 in career scoring was already in the Hall of Fame.
“You can only do so much, and you’ve got to let your numbers and your play dictate where it gets you,” Recchi said. “It was just something where you hope it’s good enough at some point.”
Andreychuk had an even longer wait, finally getting the call in his ninth chance after putting up 1,338 points in 23 seasons and serving as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2004 Cup team. His 640 goals are 14th all-time.
“The years that I have waited make no difference to me,” Andreychuk said. “When I started (in Buffalo) in ’82, I got the privilege of watching Gilbert Perreault score 500 goals and to think that I went by him, it’s mind-boggling.”
Goyette won two Olympic gold medals and one silver medal for Canada and had 113 goals and 105 assists in 171 international games. Growing up in Quebec, she was asked why she played a men’s sport and said, “When you love something that much, it doesn’t matter what people say: You just do what you love.”
Drake, who said he was humbled to learn he was in the Hall of Fame, has the most victories of any Canadian college coach during a legendary 28-year career at the University of Alberta that included six University Cup titles. Along the way Drake revolutionized puck pressure and penalty-killing techniques and influenced the likes of NHL coaches Mike Babcock, Ken Hitchcock and Barry Trotz.
Hitchcock said he was relieved Drake is being honored at age 88 and said of his mentor, “There’s never been a person that’s done more for hockey and more for coaches and more for his players than Clare.” Babcock called Drake the John Wooden of Canadian hockey.
“You’re a great man, you did things right, treated people right, won championships and made an impact,” Babcock said. “What more can you ask?”
Jacobs has owned the Bruins since 1975 and served as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors since 2007. He said it was “a total surprise” to be elected and credited his time working at the league level for the honor.
“While our league has changed and grown over the 42-plus years Jeremy has owned the Bruins, he always has focused on further growing our game and strengthening our league,” commissioner Gary Bettman said. “As chairman of our board of governors for the past decade, his priority has been to serve our fans and to make sure our league and its teams are strong.”
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