TORONTO — Danielle Goyette was a steady presence on the Canadian national team in the early 1990s, but knew she needed to take her game to another level after women’s hockey was added to the Olympic program for the 1998 Nagano Games.
In August 1996, she packed up her belongings to make the long road trip west from her hometown of St-Nazaire, Que., to Calgary. It was a decision that sent her on a path to two Olympic titles and now a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"I put my clothes in, my hockey bag and my bike, and I left," Goyette said. "I didn’t know what to expect over there. But I knew that if I didn’t take that chance, there was no way I would be able to (realize) my dreams."
Goyette became an honoured member of the Hall on Friday along with former NHL stars Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya. Longtime Canadian university coach Clare Drake and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs entered in the builder category.
A formal induction ceremony was scheduled for Monday night.
Goyette won eight world titles over her career and also won an Olympic silver. When she retired in 2008, she was fourth on the women’s world hockey championship all-time points list with 68.
When Goyette first joined the national program in 1992, most women’s hockey players did not train full-time like they do today.
"For us it was like a hobby," she said. "It was a social thing. We’d play once a week."
Once Nagano became an option, she was determined to become more familiar with on-ice systems while ramping up her training and ice time. Goyette, who knew little English at the time, called the move west for centralization the hardest thing — but the best thing — she ever did.
"I had to do something for me to be able to compete with my teammates and to know what my coaches wanted for me to have a chance to make the (Olympic) team," she said.
"I would say the first two months I was crying pretty much every night because I couldn’t communicate with (anybody)," Goyette added.
She took a job at the Olympic Oval in Calgary to make ends meet.
"I cleaned the toilets, cleaned garbage from the dressing room and the office," she said. "But it allowed me to train full-time during the day and I was working four until 11 at night. But at that time, I was willing to do anything in my power to get there. I think that’s the one thing I’m so proud of."
Goyette made the Nagano squad and led the silver medal-winning team with eight goals. She also helped Canada win gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Games and the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
She settled in Calgary and later coached the University of Calgary Dinos women’s team and served as a consultant for the Canadian women’s team.
Selanne, meanwhile, started his NHL career with a bang by scoring 76 goals as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets. He won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and currently holds or owns a share of 18 different NHL records.
Selanne played 21 NHL seasons and finished with 684 goals and 1,457 points. He won four Olympic medals (three bronze, one silver) for Finland.
He spent part of his career as a linemate with Kariya, who averaged exactly a point a game over his 989-game career. Kariya was a five-time all-star who scored 50 goals in the 1995-96 season.
Both Recchi and Andreychuk played in over 1,600 career NHL games. Recchi, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, finished with 576 career goals.
Andreychuk, who won a Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, scored 640 goals over his career. A grin spread over his face when he tried on his Hall ring at Friday’s ceremony.
"This is real," he said. "This is actually real."