TORONTO — The Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2018 are the owners of some new hardware.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, goalie Martin Brodeur, diminutive winger Martin St. Louis, league trailblazer Willie O’Ree, Canadian women’s star Jayna Hefford and Russian great Alexander Yakushev received their Hall of Fame rings today in Toronto.
The group will be inducted into the hall during a ceremony on Monday night.
The NHL has grown from 24 to 31 teams under Bettman’s watch since he took over as commissioner in 1993, with annual revenue ballooning to US$5 billion. He’s also overseen three lockouts, including the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season, with another work stoppage potentially looming in either 2020 or 2022.
"I think we have the greatest game in the world, we have the greatest athletes in the world playing our game, and our fans are the greatest," Bettman said. "And when you put that combination together, the sky’s the limit as to how much more we can even grow this game."
Brodeur is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, a five-time Jennings Trophy recipient, and is the NHL’s all-time leader in victories (691) and shutouts (125).
"This is a great honour," Brodeur said. "Obviously having this ring is something that’s never expected."
St. Louis went from not being drafted to a 17-year NHL career that included 1,134 regular-season games, 1,033 points and a Hart Trophy as league MVP. The five-foot-eight forward won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003-04 and was on Canada’s men’s Olympic team that brought home gold in 2014.
O’Ree became the NHL’s first black player when he was called up by the Boston Bruins in 1958. He had a long career in the minors, but played just 45 NHL games. O’Ree returned to the league fold in 1996 as an ambassador.
Hefford won four Olympic gold medals for Canada, while Yakushev starred for USSR at the 1972 Summit Series against Canada. He also won Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976.<