Gary Bettman, Martin Brodeur, Willie O'Ree among Hall class

ByEmily Kaplan ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, longtime New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur and Willie O'Ree, who broke the NHL's color barrier 60 years ago, are among the six-person 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame class, the Hall announced on Tuesday.

Longtime NHL winger Martin St. Louis, Canadian women's player Jayna Hefford and Russian player Alexander Yakushev will also be inducted. The induction ceremony is in November, in Toronto.

Bettman, who is in his 25th season as NHL commissioner, joins the NFL's Pete Rozelle as an active commissioner to be inducted into his sport's Hall of Fame. Rozelle entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Though there have been three lockouts under Bettman's watch, he has grown the game's imprint. When Bettman took the job in 1993, 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.

Brodeur got the call in his first year of eligibility. He is the NHL leader in shutouts (125) and career wins (691) by a wide margin -- the closest to him is Patrick Roy with 551. Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner in New Jersey, is also a four-time Vezina winner, five-time Jennings winner for allowing the fewest goals in a season, and he won two Olympic gold medals with Canada.

Brodeur won the Calder Trophy in the 1993-94 season and overall played 1,259 games over 21 seasons in New Jersey. Brodeur played seven games in his final season (2014-15) for the St. Louis Blues. He is currently an assistant general manager of the Blues.

"I don't think you'll ever get used to hearing those words," Brodeur told TSN of being selected. "It's quite an honor."

"You don't dream to be in the Hall of Fame," he added. "You dream about playing one day in the NHL. And then you get greedy a little bit."

It was a long-overdue induction for O'Ree, who became the first black player in the NHL when he suited up for the Boston Bruins in 1958. He was the league's lone black player until 1974.

O'Ree has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 1962. His playing career only lasted 45 games over two seasons. O'Ree, however, will be inducted under the builder category. He has mentored other black players and has done immeasurable work with the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone program, which encourages diversity and inclusion for the sport.

The NHL celebrated the 60th anniversary of O'Ree breaking the league's color barrier this past season, and also introduced the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award to honor his work. Late Humboldt Broncos coach Darcy Haugan was the inaugural winner at last week's NHL Awards.

St. Louis was undrafted but at 5-foot-8 set a path for smaller forwards -- which has become vogue in today's NHL -- as well as late bloomers. A three-time Lady Byng winner, St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy in 2013, the Hart Trophy in 2004 and helped 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.

Hefford, who was passed over in her first year of eligibility in 2017, won four Olympic gold medals for Team Canada as well as seven world championship titles with 43 goals and 49 assists over her international career. She is the second-leading scorer in Canadian Women's Hockey League history.

Yakushev, who was inducted to the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, is famous for his play in the 1972 Summit Series. He helped Russia to two Olympic gold medals.

Daniel Alfredsson was passed for the second straight year. Alfredsson was in his first year of eligibility last year. The former Ottawa Senators captain, and the franchise's all-time leading point scorer, never won a Stanley Cup. His 1,157 points rank 51st all time. Alfredsson won Olympic gold with Sweden in 2006, and also won the Calder Trophy in 1996.

Other notable names to miss the cut this year are Jennifer Botterill, Rod Brind'Amour, Theo Fleury, Curtis Joseph, Kevin Lowe, Boris Mikhailov, Alexander Mogilny, Chris Osgood, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Pierre Turgeon, Doug Wilson and Sergei Zubov. Turgeon's 1,327 career points lead the field of eligible inductees not in the Hall of Fame. He has been eligible since 2010.

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