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A brief introduction to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 represents many different parts of hockey history.

It features arguably the greatest female player of all time, the winningest coach in college hockey and the first player that escaped Eastern Europe’s communist rule to play in North America.

It also includes a reliable shutdown forward, a high-scoring defenceman and a general manager who has built three Stanley Cup champions.

Here’s a brief look at the six people entering the Hall in the Class of 2019 ahead of Monday’s induction ceremony.

Hayley Wickenheiser

GP: 67 | G: 49 | A: 70 | P: 119 | Olympic Medals: 4 gold, 1 silver | World Championship Medals: 7 gold, 6 silver
* Stats for international play

Hayley Wickenheiser, one of women’s hockey’s biggest stars, enters the Hall after a more than two-decade career on the international stage.

Wickenheiser made her Canadian national team debut in 1994 at the age of 15 and competed in nine World Championships and five Olympic games before retiring in 2017.

The Shaunavon, Sask., native represented Canada at the 1998 Nagano Olympics as a 19-year-old, winning silver in the first Olympic games to include women’s hockey. She went on to win four consecutive Olympic golds, including two as captain in 2010 and 2014.

She also competed for Canada in softball at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“Outside of winning an Olympic gold medal, for a personal accomplishment, this is probably the holy grail,” Wickenheiser said when she found out she had been voted into the Hall earlier this year.

Beyond her international resume, Wickenheiser briefly played professionally with men in Europe. In two seasons from 2002-2004, she appeared in a combined 22 games with HC Salamat in Finland, scoring two goals and four points. She also played in 21 games for men’s pro team Eskilstuna Linden in Sweden in the 2008-09 season.

After her retirement from playing, Wickenheiser was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs to be an assistant director of player development. She is also studying medicine at the University of Calgary.

Guy Carbonneau

GP: 1,318 | G: 260 | A: 403 | P: 663 | Stanley Cups: 3 | NHL Awards: 3 Selke Trophies

Guy Carbonneau wasn’t an offensive star in the NHL, but he helped his teams win in other ways.

A five-foot-11 centre, Carbonneau won the Selke Trophy three times over his 18 NHL seasons as the top defensive forward and was a staple on the penalty kill first with the Montreal Canadiens and later with the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. Despite being a high-scoring star in the QMJHL, Carbonneau says he adopted a more defensive style to his game in the NHL to crack the Canadiens’ stacked roster in the ’80s.

“I could have said, ‘I wish the Canadiens had let me be a goal-scorer, somebody who put points on the board,’ ” he said recently in an interview with NHL.com. “For me, all I wanted was to play. To be on the ice, not on the bench. That defensive role gave me the chance to play 20 minutes a game.”

Carbonneau was the captain when the Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also won a Cup with Montreal in 1986, and the Stars in 1999.

Sergei Zubov

GP: 1,068 | G: 152 | A: 619 | P: 771 | Stanley Cups: 2 | All-Star Games: 3

Sergei Zubov always found a way to make the right pass.

A speedy right-handed shot, Zubov was an offensive dynamo from the back end who mastered the breakout pass and quarterbacked many successful power plays.

Zubov won his first Stanley Cup in 1994 as a member of the New York Rangers. That same season, his second in the NHL, he set a career-high with 89 points, including 49 points on the power play.

While he never won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenceman — Hall of Famers Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios, among others, dominated the award during that time — Zubov received votes for the award in 12 of his 16 NHL seasons.

Zubov played his final 12 years with the Dallas Stars and was teammates with Carbonneau on the 1999 Cup champion team. He still holds every major franchise record for a Stars defenceman, and the team will retire his No. 56 next season.

“I was eight years old when I travelled with the national team to a tournament in Canada,” Zubov said when he found out he’d been elected to the Hall. “I had a chance to walk into the Hall of Fame. Back then, I couldn’t even think of, dream of, that one day I would have a chance to be part of it.

“It’s truly special. You realize you’ve done something in your life that you can be proud of.”

Vaclav Nedomansky

GP: 673 | G: 257 | A: 274 | P: 531 | Olympic Medals: 1 silver, 1 bronze | World Championship Medals: 1 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze
* Stats include NHL and WHA

Vaclav Nedomansky may not be the most recognizable name in this class, but his contribution to hockey history may be the biggest.

Born in the former Czechoslovakia, Nedomansky was a star power forward for Slovan ChZJD Bratislava in the top Czech league in the ’60s and early ’70s. However, Nedomansky was fed up with the communist regime in his country and wanted a better life for himself, so in 1974 he escaped to North America through Switzerland. He was the first hockey player to defect from behind the Iron Curtain.

“One of the happiest moments was when I immigrated to Canada,” Nedomansky said in an interview with The Hockey News in 2016. “Because that way, I was a free man. I could develop not only as a hockey player, but as a person. That was for me and my family probably my strongest feeling and most important in my career.”

Once in North America, Nedomansky starred for the Toronto Toros and the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA, then signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Red Wings in 1977. He played six NHL seasons with the Red Wings, Rangers and Blues, scoring 278 points in 421 games.

Despite his short NHL career, Nedomansky paved the way for Eastern European players to come to North America to compete at the highest level and therefore played an important role in hockey history.

Jim Rutherford

Stanley Cups: 3 | NHL Awards: 2016 GM of the Year | OHL Championships: 1

Jim Rutherford was an NHL goalie for 13 seasons, but he is going into the Hall of Fame as a builder for his success as a general manager.

After retiring from playing in 1983, Rutherford joined the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires and as general manager led the team to an OHL championship in 1988. In 1994, Rutherford along with partner Peter Karmanos purchased the Hartford Whalers and Rutherford was installed as general manager. With Rutherford running hockey operations for the Whalers — who moved to Carolina and became the Hurricanes in 1997 — the club reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2002, and won the Cup in 2006.

In 2014, after 20 years with the Hartford-Carolina franchise, Rutherford stepped down from his post and shortly after joined the Pittsburgh Penguins as general manager. His Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and ’17, and Rutherford remains in the job to this day.

“One of the advantages I think for me when I retired as a player, I didn’t try to stay in the NHL,” Rutherford said when the Hall of Fame announced the 2019 class. “I went back to the grassroots. I went all the way back to youth hockey for a couple of years and then got the opportunity to manage in the Ontario Hockey League and kind of worked my way up.”

Boston College head coach Jerry York enters the Hockey Hall of Fame as the winningest coach in NCAA hockey history. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Jerry York

Seasons Coached: 47 | Games Coached: 1,846 | Wins: 1,072 | National Championships: 5

Jerry York is currently in his 47th season as a head coach in the NCAA and still going strong.

York began his head coaching career at Clarkson University in 1972 and guided the Golden Knights to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons. He then moved to Bowling Green in 1979, where he led the Falcons to nine 20-win seasons and a national title in 1984.

In 1994, York was hired by his alma mater Boston College to rebuild their hockey program after three straight losing seasons. Twenty-five years later, York is still coaching the Eagles and has turned the program into a hockey power. The Eagles have won four national titles under York, finished as runner-up four other times, and also won nine Beanpot tournaments as the top college team in Boston.

His five national titles as a head coach are tied for second all-time, and he is the only coach in NCAA history with at least 1,000 wins.

Notable players who have graduated to the NHL from York’s teams include Rob Blake, Dave Taylor, Garry Galley, George McPhee, Dan Bylsma, Brian Gionta, Cory Schneider, Johnny Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin and Thatcher Demko, among many others.

“He’s about as nice a man as you’ll ever meet in this game,” McPhee said in an interview with The Athletic. “I mean this in a positive way — he’s the Fred Rogers of hockey. Mr. Rogers said there are three ways to success. One is to be kind. Two is be kind. Three is be kind.

“Jerry York is a very kind man, a wonderful man.”