Best quotes from the 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony
The Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday provided a number of tributes, emotional speeches and plenty of gratitude for the 2019 class.
In attendance were Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, two-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Sergei Zubov, journalist Frank Brown, play-by-play man Jim Hughson, four-time women's hockey gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser, NCAA coach Jerry York, Czechoslovakian star Vaclav Nedomansky and Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Carbonneau.
Here are quotes from those who spoke at the ceremony about players who had a big influence on their careers, journeys, passion of the game and more.
1 Jim Rutherford, on his journey to the HHOF
The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager was emotional as he was officially welcomed into the Hall and given his plaque. A former player for 13 years, Rutherford built multiple winning franchises as a general manager, winning championships as GM of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, Carolina Hurricanes and the Penguins.
Here's what he had to say about his NHL journey:
"It's a great honor to be here tonight. I pulled on my first skates when I was five years old and never could have imagined coming here one day being inducted into the HHOF as a builder. . . my family lived paycheck-to-paycheck, but they always found a way to get me equipment and take me to every game and every practice."
As for advice, Rutherford said this:
"Don't let anyone tell you you can't do something. That was the story of my career. The more they told me I couldn't do things, the more it turned out that I did."
2 Sergei Zubov, on Alexander Karpovtsev's impact on him and his love of the game
Zubov, who was known for not speaking so much to the media during his career, had a lot to say during his induction to the Hall. The blueliner was one of the first Russians to have his name engraved onto the Stanley Cup and was one of the most notable offensive defensemen to play the game, posting eight 50-plus point seasons.
In the beginning, he thanked former teammate and defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev — who died in 2011 in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash — for introducing him to the game of hockey when they were in elementary school.
"We had long hours skating outside rink in our neighborhood and one day, he brought me real hockey gloves. It was a nice rink and most importantly, it had a zamboni machine. We fought every day and pushed each other to be better than the other. Seventeen years later, we would be part of the Russian squad in New York to be the first Russians to be engraved in the Stanley Cup."
On his continued work in the game of hockey, the 49-year-old said this:
"I'm still in hockey because I love this game so much, and every time, it brings me so much joy. I had fun. I still do, but it's been possible only because [I have been] surrounded by so many important people in my life who continue to support me every day."
3 Jerry York, on the passion of being behind the bench
As the head coach of multiple NCAA teams and now behind the bench for Boston College, York is the winningest bench boss in men's college hockey. He's coached four Hobey Baker award winners and 58 NHL players who have won a combined 12 Stanley Cups.
Here's what he had to say about his career, one that he is grateful for because of those he got to meet and mentor.
"I love coaching, but I love the people we coach. We're not coaching pucks, we're coaching people, and I've had some great experiences. . . it's not all about Jerry York."
4 Vaclav Nedomansky, on coming to North America
One of the most notable Czechoslovakian players to lace them up, Nedomansky was prominent for bringing European hockey to North America, being the first to pass the Iron Curtain and play in the WHA and NHL.
In his speech, "Big Ned" had this to say about his journey to North America and overcoming adversity to do so:
"I was really in trouble last couple of years with the government and teams. . . I'm so happy I'm here and I was happy that I went. . . the decision I made, I never really regret it. . . this is the proper time to thank the country of Canada for giving me the chance to live my life the way I would like to live."
5 Guy Carbonneau, on success and opportunity
One of the best two-way forwards in the game, Carbonneau won three Selke awards and three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, even when the odds stacked against them.
As he was inducted, he quoted Herb Brooks, saying "great moments are born from great opportunities" and was modest, accrediting his success to many others. Here's what he had to say on that topic:
"I had the chance of playing against great players," he said, naming a handful. "Guys who made me work and sweat for every inch every night and reminded me that success is not something you achieve in one night, but over the course of many years. . . to be successful, you need good teammates and dedicated coaches, [as well as] good ownership."
6 Hayley Wickenheiser on the importance of women's hockey
The highest-scoring women's player of all time and the first-ever women's skater (not goalie) to play in and record a goal and point in a men's league, Wickenheiser was a pioneer and trailblazer in the world of women's hockey. She also won four gold medals and seven world championships with Team Canada.
In her speech, she not only discussed how her hometown and Canada came together following the Swift City and Humboldt bus crashes, but also discussed her experiences growing up and overcoming adversity, especially playing in men's league, which taught her a lot:
"I wasn't nervous to get hit or go on the ice, that's actually where I felt good, it was when I had to come to the rink and change in the bathroom and walk through the lobby of all the parents and the comments and harassment that I'd often hear. But all those things gave me thick skin and resilience and taught me not to listen to the critical opinions of others."
She also expressed her impact on the game and what she hopes for as women hockey grows:
"We have come a long way in hockey. . . I love the game, I love the grassroots because that's what the women's game means.
"My hope is that [If my nieces] decide to play hockey that they can walk into a rink anywhere in Canada with a hockey bag and hockey stick over their shoulder and nobody's going to look twice, that they don't have to cut their hair short run into the bathroom and try to look like a boy like I had to do to blend in; the road is just a little bit easier. . . the game is truly for everyone."
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