By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Nov. 13) – With the NHL lockout approaching its third month, concern developed in some quarters that the labor squabble would diminish Monday night’s Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony.
Not a chance.
If anything, it allowed the pained hockey world a reprieve from the eye-glazing altercation that has the 2012-13 season in escrow – pun fully intended. No person, or group, needed to “make whole” in this circumstance; it was easily accomplished by the generations of hockey royalty that descended on our city. The annual Hall of Fame induction gala cannot be minimized; it is way too important. The NHL, in fact, has no direct affiliation with the event; a sovereign committee determines, in July, those to be honored in the second week of November.
Ancillary function – such as the media conference/ring presentation on the day of the ceremony – is neatly arranged and executed by Stellick Marketing & Communications; its leader, Bob Stellick, a former long-time employee of the Toronto Maple Leafs (you may also have heard of his brother, Gord).
This is not to suggest the NHL is, or should be, disassociated with the event. Introducing Monday night’s ceremony before a large gathering at the Hall, and a nationwide TV audience in Canada, wasn’t likely the most comfortable moment of Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, yet his presence was vital. Current ring-opponent, Donald Fehr, was also in the house. Both men smartly honored the occasion by shunning media availability.
I had the pleasure of following my trusty Nikon to both the morning and evening activities – presented, here, in a photo-display:
MORNING MEDIA CONFERENCE
Just before 11 a.m. on Monday, the induction Class of 2012 gathered in the Esso Great Hall – accompanied by the Stanley Cup – for a ring presentation by selection committee members Pat Quinn and Jim Gregory. The event had a distinct Toronto Maple Leafs flavor. Both Quinn and Gregory are former GM’s of the club (Quinn also coached the Leafs for seven years) while Mats Sundin, elected in his first year of eligibility, is the franchise scoring leader and the second-longest serving captain (1997-2008), behind only George Armstrong.
GREAT MEMORY FOR LEAF FANS: MATS SUNDIN AND PAT QUINN – CAPTAIN AND COACH OF PLAYOFF CONTENDERS HERE IN TORONTO FROM 1999 TO 2004.
EVENT MARQUEE FEATURING THE HALL CLASS OF 2012.
SITE OF THE INDUCTION CEREMONY (ABOVE-LEFT) AND THE HALL OF FAME CREST PROUDLY DISPLAYED ON SUNDIN’S SPORT-JACKET.
DISPLAYING THEIR HALL OF FAME RINGS – 2012 INDUCTEES (LEFT TO RIGHT) SUNDIN, JOE SAKIC, ADAM OATES AND PAVEL BURE.
YOUNG TEAMMATES SUNDIN AND SAKIC (ABOVE) WERE FEATURED ON COVER OF THE QUEBEC NORDIQUES 1991-92 MEDIA GUIDE (BOTTOM-LEFT). SUNDIN HAD BEEN TRADED TO THE LEAFS BY THE TIME COLORADO AVALANCHE – THE SUPPLANTED NORDIQUES – WON THEIR FIRST OF TWO STANLEY CUPS IN 1996.
PAVEL BURE SCORED 60 GOALS FOR PAT QUINN IN 1993-94 AS VANCOUVER CANUCKS ADVANCED TO GAME 7 OF THE STANLEY CUP FINAL BEFORE BOWING TO NEW YORK RANGERS. QUINN WAS GM AND COACH OF THE CANUCKS.
IN THE PACKED ESSO GREAT HALL, SUNDIN WAITS IN THE FRONT ROW OF CHAIRS AS QUINN RHYMES OFF HIS NHL ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
GORD STELLICK, FORMER LEAFS’ GM AND MY LONG-TIME COLLEAGUE AT THE FAN-590, INTERVIEWS SAKIC AND OATES DURING RING CEREMONY.
THE BIG ‘WEED’ (SUNDIN’S NICKNAME)
SUNDIN IS INTERVIEWED BY REPORTERS WHILE STANDING BETWEEN HALL PLAQUES OF FORMER LEAF PLAYERS BERT OLMSTEAD (LEFT) AND DAVE KEON.
JERSEYS – HOME AND AWAY – SUNDIN WORE IN QUEBEC CITY FROM 1990-94.
MATS ENTERTAINED THREE OR FOUR WAVES OF MEDIA.
PAT QUINN (ABOVE) COACHED SUNDIN HERE IN TORONTO FROM 1998 TO 2006 – LEAFS TWICE (1999 AND 2002) ADVANCING TO THE STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS.
HALL OF FAME JERSEYS
(THREE ALREADY IN… ONE SURE TO FOLLOW)
THE STANLEY CUP, WITH ENGRAVING (BELOW) OF JOE SAKIC AND 1996 CHAMPION COLORADO AVALANCHE, WHICH SWEPT FLORIDA AND WON THE NHL TITLE AT MIAMI ARENA ON AN OVERTIME GOAL BY UWE KRUPP.
HALL OF FAME DISPLAYS
STATUE OF MONTREAL GOALIE KEN DRYDEN IN FAMED RESTING POSE GREETS VISITORS NEAR MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE HALL AND THE SCARLET-RED JERSEY WORN BY CANADIENS GREAT MAURICE (ROCKET) RICHARD.
THE “BIG M” – FRANK MAHOVLICH – WITH LEAFS AND MONTREAL IN THE NHL; TORONTO TOROS/BIRMINGHAM BULLS IN THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION.
BOBBY HULL PLAYED FOR CHICAGO AND HARTFORD IN THE NHL. WAYNE GRETZKY WON FOUR STANLEY CUPS IN FIVE YEARS WITH EDMONTON OILERS AND ALSO DONNED THE ORANGE CAMPBELL CONFERENCE ALL-STAR JERSEY.
LANNY McDONALD BEGAN HIS CAREER WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS (1973-79) BUT LATER SCORED 66 GOALS FOR CALGARY FLAMES AND WON THE STANLEY CUP IN 1989. SIDNEY CROSBY WORE THROWBACK PENGUINS JERSEY (ABOVE-RIGHT) DURING INAUGURAL WINTER CLASSIC (2008) IN THE SNOW AT BUFFALO.
EVENING RED CARPET
THOSE ATTENDING THE INDUCTION CEREMONY WALKED ALONG A RED CARPET TO TELEVISION STUDIO AT FAR END OF THE BAY/WELLINGTON OFFICE TOWER.
FACES FROM THE PAST: “TERRIBLE” TED LINDSAY (ABOVE) – PUGNACIOUS STAR OF 1950’s DETROIT RED WINGS WHILE PLAYING ALONGSIDE GORDIE HOWE – INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME IN 1966. PIERRE PILOTE AND FAMILY (BELOW). CAPTAIN OF CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS, PILOTE WON THREE CONSECUTIVE NORRIS TROPHIES (1963-64-65) AND WENT INTO HALL OF FAME IN 1975.
PETER STASTNY (ABOVE-LEFT) DEFECTED FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN 1980 AND JOINED QUEBEC NORDIQUES, OWNED BY MARCEL AUBUT (RIGHT). IN JUNE 1994, AUBUT SANCTIONED TRADE OF SUNDIN TO THE MAPLE LEAFS FOR WENDEL CLARK. STASTNY IS A 1998 HALL INDUCTEE.
SMOOTH RUSSIAN IGOR LARIONOV (ABOVE-LEFT), INDUCTED IN 2008. DINO CICCARELLI (RIGHT), GIFTED SCORER AND PEST, PART OF 2010 HALL CLASS.
LONG-TIME BUFFALO SABRES BROADCASTER RICK JENNERET (ABOVE-LEFT), WINNER OF THE FOSTER HEWITT MEMORIAL AWARD THIS YEAR. BILL TORREY (RIGHT), ARCHITECT OF THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS STANLEY CUP DYNASTY (1980-83); ELECTED INTO BUILDER’S CATEGORY OF THE HALL IN 1995.
ELECTED AS BUILDER IN 2010: DETROIT RED WINGS SENIOR-EXECUTIVE JIM DEVELLANO (LEFT). NHL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION BOSS DONALD FEHR (RIGHT).
FORMER MAPLE LEAFS
TEAMMATES WITH THE GOOD TORONTO CLUBS OF THE MID-TO-LATE 70’s: BORJE SALMING (1996 INDUCTEE ABOVE) AND LANNY McDONALD (1992 BELOW).
DOUG GILMOUR – LEAFS RECORD HOLDER OF 127 POINTS IN A SEASON (1992-93) AND HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE LAST YEAR – DOES RADIO INTERVIEW (ABOVE) AND THEN CHATS WITH EX-LEAF DEFENSEMAN BRIAN McCABE (BELOW).
McCABE AND BEST HOCKEY PAL DARCY TUCKER (ABOVE-RIGHT).
POPULAR EX-LEAF GARY ROBERTS (ABOVE-LEFT) AND RON FRANCIS, WHO ENDED HIS CAREER WITH A CUP OF COFFEE HERE IN TORONTO AT END OF 2002-03 SEASON. FRANCIS REMAINS FOURTH ON THE ALL-TIME NHL SCORING LIST WITH 1,798 POINTS, BEHIND ONLY WAYNE GRETZKY, MARK MESSIER AND GORDIE HOWE. HE WENT INTO THE HALL OF FAME IN 2007.
CURTIS JOSEPH – OR CUJO – PAUSES TO DO A TELEVISION INTERVIEW.
CLIFF FLETCHER, LEAFS GM WHO PULLED OFF THE MULTI-PLAYER TRADE WITH QUEBEC FOR MATS SUNDIN IN JUNE 1994, CHATS (ABOVE) WITH SCOTT LAUGHLIN OF SIRIUS-XM NHL RADIO NETWORK.
TWO OF SUNDIN’S CLOSEST HOCKEY ACQUAINTANCES: PAT QUINN (ABOVE-LEFT) AND 2003-04 MAPLE LEAFS TEAMMATE JOE NIEUWENDYK (RIGHT), WHO ENTERED THE HALL OF FAME LAST NOVEMBER.
SWEDISH HOCKEY LEGEND ANDERS HEDBERG (ABOVE) – A VALUED EUROPEAN SCOUT WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS FROM 1991-97.
AS ALWAYS, SUNDIN SPOKE FROM THE HEART DURING HIS HALL OF FAME ACCEPTANCE SPEECH – TELEVISED HERE IN CANADA ON TSN-2 – PAYING SPECIAL HEED TO HIS PARENTS, AND WIFE JOSEPHINE.
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