Martin Brodeur and Willie O’Ree Among Those To Become Immortal In The Hockey Hall Of Fame.

Willie O'Ree
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 20: Willie O'Ree, NHL Director of Youth Development, poses for photos on the red carpet during the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu at The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It has been announced Tuesday that Martin BrodeurMartin St. LouisAlexander Yakushev, Jayna Hefford, Willie O’Ree, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman are to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2018 Induction Celebration will be November 12th at the Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Martin Brodeur and Willie O’Ree Among Those To Become Immortal

It comes again to that time of year where hockey greats are recognized for their hard work and dedication to the beloved sport.  Although some decisions are always seen as controversial. There is no argument that at least two of the names on this years list is well deserved.

Willie O’Ree

For those unfortunate few that have had not heard of O’Ree, in 1958 he became the first black player in the NHL. And continued solo until the 70’s.

He played 45 NHL games and had 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) during his short NHL career.

But what is more unknown is that the retired Boston Bruins winger has been the hockey diversity ambassador for over 20 years. It’s this continual effort of breaking down barriers and community involvement to promote the game of hockey, that has secured O’Ree a place in history. It has been long overdue, reaching out to youth hockey in particular and NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone program.

This year has been a great year for O’Ree achievements. The NHL celebrated the 60th anniversary of O’Ree breaking the league’s colour barrier this past season, and also introduced the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award to honour his work. This award was given to the Late Humboldt Broncos coach Darcy Haugan at this year’s awards.

Forever humbled, the 82-year-old is still going strong and stated before the news.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “Being selected to the Hall of Fame is like the top of the cake. I don’t think you can go any farther than that.

“I’m just very pleased with my work and the things I’ve accomplished working with the National Hockey League and the Hockey is for Everyone program.”

O’Ree enters the Hall under the Builder’s Category

Martin Brodeur

Although O’Ree was nominated as a builder of the sport, Brodeur is a hockey legend. And has inspired thousands over his extensive career. A definite one of a kind. The list of achievements is extensive.

Brodeur became the first-time candidate after waiting the required three years following his last professional game in 2015. The 46-year-old is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils and the NHL all-time leader in wins (691) and shutouts (125).

Brodeur holds the NHL record for games played by a goaltender at 1,266. With the most saves at 28,928. Combined with minutes played at 74,438, and 30-win seasons (14), consecutive 30-win seasons (12), consecutive 35-win seasons (11), 40-win seasons (eight) and consecutive 40-win seasons (three).

To add to this, the Canadian native won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL in 1994. Also the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie four times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008). And the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals-against in a season with a minimum of 25 appearances five times (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2010).

Brodeur shares the record for most wins in a season (48) with Washington Capitals and Stanley Cup Champion goalie Braden Holtby.

The Hockey Hall of Famer is now an assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues.

Martin St. Louis

Along with hockey great “Marty Brodeur”, St. Louis also finished in 2015, but with the New York Rangers.

St. Louis finished his NHL career with 391 goals and 642 assists totaling 1,033 points in 1,134 games. And is still the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s all-time leader in assists with 588 and 953 points. With 300 power-play points, 28 shorthanded goals and an impressive 64 game-winning goals.

It is clear why St Louis deserves to be in the Hockey Hall Of Fame for those statistics alone. But the 43-year-old is a three-time Lady Byng winner, Art Ross Trophy winner (2013) and the Hart Trophy in 2004. St.Louis was key to helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to their only Stanley Cup in 2004. St. Louis’ 1,033 career points rank 75th all time. He also won Olympic and World Cup golds with Team Canada.

Gary Bettman.

Bettman is in his 25th season as NHL commissioner. Previous to this, he was senior vice-president for the NBA. Bettman joins the NFL’s Pete Rozelle as an active commissioner to be inducted into his sport’s Hall of Fame. Although this decision is unpopular to many, particularly concussion advocates. And there have been three lockouts under Bettman’s watch. The 66-year-old is inaugurated into the Hall of Fame as a builder of the league. It has certainly expanded since Bettman took the job in 1993. At that time, leaguewide revenues were about $400 million. Projected revenues for the 2018-19 season are $4.54 billion. The league has grown from 24 to 31 teams in Bettman’s tenure.

Performing under the radar

Although perhaps less known than the others, Yakushev and Hefford are by no means to be forgotten.

Continuing with diversity, Hefford, the Canadian women’s national team star will enter the Hall of Fame,

Hefford is a five-time Olympian with the Canadian’s women’s team (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014), with her goal at the 2002 Winter Olympics sealing Canada’s gold medal victory. Overall, she won four golds and one silver with Team Canada. In the National Women’s Hockey League, she played for the Brampton Thunder from 1998-2007.

This is a great moment for women’s hockey, as its an aspect that does not get enough recognition. She will join others such as Angela James and American Cammi Granato.

Either do players like Yakushev, who has never played in the NHL but was a star in the U.S.S.R with Spartak Moscow. His fame intensified globally in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

He led the Soviets with seven goals, four assists totaling 11 points in the eight-game series.

Yakushev was inducted to the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, as this was the area Yakushev excelled at. Winning gold medals with the Soviet Union at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics and the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics and helping the U.S.S.R. win seven IIHF World Championships. Yakushev also coached the Russian International team.

Regardless of opinion, these people have impacted the world of hockey, be it in recognition of firsts, international representation or continuing development of the league itself. It is unlikely the sport of hockey will be the same without them.

 

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