It was Jan. 20, 1996 and Paul Kariya was about to play in his first all-star game on the starting line with his two biggest hockey idols: Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull.
“I remember standing next to them for the national anthem and looking to my left, looking to my right [and thinking] how is this possible?” Kariya said, on Hockey Night in Canada in a sit-down interview with all the new members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t long before Kariya showed that he deserved a spot between the all-time greats.
Just over five minutes into the second period, the then 21-year-old set up the Western Conference’s first goal after he made a slick pass to Hull, and then Kariya put himself in the goal column with a nifty move on a breakaway 10 minutes later.
Now the 43-year-old, who’s career was cut short due to concussion problems, joins his “biggest idol” and “second-biggest idol” in the Hall after racking up 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 career games.
Looking back he still thinks back to one of his most treasured hockey memories that happened in just his second year in the NHL.
“It was beyond a dream come true to play a game with those two guys. Unbelievable.”
Check out the video player at the top of the page for the full interview with the entire Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2017.