Lidstrom heads Hall list

Pronger, Fyodorov, Housley, Ruggiero to be inducted

30.06.2015
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Swedish defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom (left) battles with Finland's Niko Kapanen at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

TORONTO – Gordie Howe was known as Mr. Hockey. Glenn Hall was known as Mr. Goalie. Nicklas Lidstrom was known as Mr. Perfect. Well, Perfect joins Hockey and Goalie in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The legendary defenceman is just the fourth player from Sweden to be so honoured, following Borje Salming, Mats Sundin, and Peter Forsberg.

He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2014 and is joined in the Class of ’15 by Russian Sergei Fyodorov, Canadian defenceman Chris Pronger, American blueliner Phil Housley, and American women’s hockey player Angela Ruggiero. The Players will be joined by two Builders—Bill Hay and Peter Karmonos.

Lidstrom wasn’t spectacular and he often wasn’t even noticeable. All he did was, well, never make a mistake. For 20 years he played with only one team, the Detroit Red Wings, distinguishing himself as a gentlemanly player whose play in his own end was virtually flawless.

He won the Stanley Cup four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), the last noteworthy because he became the first European to captain a Cup-winning team. He was awarded the Norris Trophy seven times, tied with Doug Harvey for second-most behind only Bobby Orr. Lidstrom also won the Conn Smythe Trophy and played in 12 All-Star Games. He was, indeed, one of the defining defencemen of his generation.

He is among the all-time leaders in games played, assists, and points by a defenceman, and is second all-time in playoff games played with 263. His number 5 was retired by the Red Wings, and his international career was remarkable in its own right. Lidstrom scored the gold-medal-winning goal at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and also won gold at the 1991 World Championship. He was the 17th player to join the Triple Gold Club.

Pronger was one of a small group of players to participate in the first four NHL-led Olympics, winning gold with Canada in 2002 and 2010. He later suffered from post-concussion symptoms which forced him to retire, but in addition to his Team Canada accomplishments, his NHL resume is magnificent.

Another member of the Triple Gold Club, Pronger helped Anaheim win the Stanley Cup in 2007. He also won a World Junior gold medal and World Championship gold. More to the point, Pronger was tall, strong, and talented at both ends of the ice. He could be nasty when needed in front of his own goal or offensively gifted when the puck was in the opposition end. When he won the Hart Trophy in 2000, he became the first defenceman to do so since Bobby Orr.

As for Fyodorov, he was unquestionably one of the most gifted players of his generation. Not only was he a key member of Detroit’s Stanley Cup wins in 1997, 1998, and 2002, Fyodorov was a two-way player and won both the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Trophy in 1994, the first European player so honoured. His skating was magical and his touch around the goal superb, but when asked to check the opposition’s best skaters, he could do that as well.

Housley has been eligible for induction since 2007 and, despite being a defenceman, is the second-leading U.S.-born NHLer behind only Mike Modano. Cut from the same cloth as the great rushing defencemen of the modern era, Housley was at his best moving the puck up ice and creating scoring chances. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ruggiero is only the fourth woman inducted into the Hall after Angela James, Cammi Granato, and Geraldine Heaney. Before and after winning the Patty Kazmaier Award as best player in NCAA hockey in 2004, she forged a great career with the U.S. women’s team. In all, she won gold at the 1998 Olympics, silver twice (2002, 2010), and bronze once (2006).

Ruggiero same as Fyodorov are also members of the IIHF's Athletes Committee.

Karmonos has been the long-time owner of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise and Hay was the Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman for many years.

This year’s induction will take place on 9th November 2015, in Toronto.

ANDREW PODNIEKS

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