Two men representing the greatest generation of American-born hockey players, a legendary collegiate coach, a female player who set the bar on an international level, and the architect responsible for giving hockey a hub in North Carolina are this year's inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
The honorees, announced Thursday by USA Hockey, are former NHL forwards Bill Guerin and Doug Weight, former Michigan State University men's coach Ron Mason, women's international record-holder Cindy Curley, and Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr.
The 41st U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony will be held at a location and date to be announced in the near future.
The NHL's Lester Patrick Trophy, awarded annually for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, also will be presented during the induction ceremony.
Guerin, who spent 18 seasons in the NHL with eight teams prior to retiring in 2010, and Weight, who played 19 seasons with six clubs before retiring in 2011, were teammates with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, New York Islanders and on U.S. men's national teams. Most notably, they celebrated a 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship after defeating Canada in Montreal in the championship game.
Weight announced his retirement May 26, 2011, after 1,238 games. He finished with 278 goals and 1,033 points, which ranks seventh among U.S.-born players.
His career began with the New York Rangers in 1991; he was traded to the Oilers the following season and spent parts of nine seasons in Edmonton, including a career-best 104 points in 1995-96. After three-plus seasons with the Blues, Weight was traded to Carolina in January 2006 and helped the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup. He returned to St. Louis in the summer of 2006, but was traded again by the Blues, in 2007, to the Anaheim Ducks. He signed with the Islanders in the summer of 2008, where he joined then-captain Guerin one final time. Weight later was named captain, but a back injury limited him to 18 games in 2010-11, leading to his decision to retire.
"I'm humbled and honored to be inducted and thank goodness for Mr. Karmanos and Mr. [Jim] Rutherford [Carolina general manager] for trading for me; I'll never forget that run to the Cup in 2006," Weight said. "I remember thinking going down Tobacco Road and what the fans might be like when I got there and wondering what it would feel like. I was treated so well there, and to lift that Cup with the team and the people you spent so much time with meant a lot."
In addition to winning the World Cup of Hockey for the United States, Weight was a three-time Olympian, winning a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
The four-time All-Star serves as an Islanders assistant coach and senior adviser to general manager Garth Snow. He's also an analyst for NHL Network.
Guerin scored 429 goals, which ranks seventh on the U.S. list, and 856 points in 1,263 regular-season games, and racked up 1,660 penalty minutes. A two-time 40-goal scorer and four-time NHL All-Star, Guerin was best known for his speed and toughness. He won a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, the team that selected him with the fifth pick of the 1989 NHL Draft, and with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, playing on a line with Sidney Crosby. Guerin had seven goals and 15 points during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup, which ended with a Game 7 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.
"I was very emotional when [Executive Director of USA Hockey] Dave Ogrean called to inform me that I would be inducted," Guerin said. "It was always an honor for me to represent my country in the game I love so much. Ever since becoming familiar with USA Hockey in 1980, when the 'Miracle' happened, I've been so fortunate to live out a dream with my family and friends."
He also played for the Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Blues, San Jose Sharks and the Islanders. His best season came in 2001-02, when he scored 41 goals with the Bruins. Internationally, Guerin had four goals to help the U.S. win a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. He also represented the United States at the 1998 and 2006 Olympics and the 2004 World Cup.
Guerin is a player development coach for the Penguins.
Mason, who was born in Canada, became one of the most successful coaches in American college ice hockey history, working the bench for Lake Superior State University (1966-73), Bowling Green State (1973-79) and Michigan State (1979-2002). He won two national titles: an NAIA championship in 1972 with Lake Superior State, and an NCAA title in 1986 with Michigan State. He finished with a collegiate-record 924 wins, a mark that stood until Boston College's Jerry York won No. 925 on Dec. 29, 2012.
"I think being a part of the game is what's so important to me because it's the people in hockey that make it happen," Mason said. "Whether it's the players, the support group or trainers, I don't think you can find a better sport.
"Looking back, I can't believe I was in it for 36 years, but I still love the game and appreciate how it's played and officiated and how we support it."
Mason, who is a senior adviser for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League, played at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and led the Saints to their first national championship game appearance, in 1962-63.
Karmanos, who is the principal owner/governor and chief executive officer of the Hurricanes, saw his purchase of the Hartford Whalers become official June 28, 1994 -- the afternoon of the 1994 NHL Draft, which was held at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center.
Three years later, Karmanos moved the team and renamed it the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I've been a hockey fan ever since my mother turned on an 11-inch black-and-white Zenith television in 1951, and I got to watch the third period of the Detroit Red Wings playing the Montreal Canadiens and there were a few big-name players," Karmanos said. "I was fascinated by hockey ever since. When I got old enough to develop hockey programs, I did so without hesitation because it's the greatest game ever."
Karmanos realized every NHL owner's dream when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. The franchise has advanced to the Eastern Conference Final three times in the past 10 seasons, winning conference titles in 2002 and 2006. In 2009, the Hurricanes were recognized as the top hockey franchise and second-ranked organization in all sports by ESPN in the "Ultimate Standings," a collection of data and survey results taking into account a team's on-ice or on-field success.
"My favorite moment was the seventh game of the 2006 Cup Final at home against Edmonton," Karmanos said. "Halfway through the game, I realized every single person in that arena had been standing since the start of the game, and they didn't sit down until the game ended. I thought that was tremendous tribute to ice hockey because I'm sure some will recall we were criticized for moving hockey to North Carolina, but the game came through and the fans responded and stood the entire game."
Karmanos' efforts also played a role in the Hurricanes being awarded the 2004 NHL Draft and 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mikemorrealeNHL
CURLEY'S LESSONS FROM LAMORIELLO
Cindy Curley had plenty to be thankful for Thursday when she was introduced as a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Curley, inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, starred for the Friars from 1981-85 and finished her career with 110 goals and 225 points. She was a member of the first two Providence teams to win an ECAC championship, in 1984 and 1985.
One of the lighter moments of Thursday's media teleconference was Curley's memory of then-Providence men's ice hockey coach Lou Lamoriello, who is the CEO/president/general manger of the New Jersey Devils. Lamoriello was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
"One of the most intimidating people I've ever met in my life was Lou Lamoriello," Curley said. "If you had something in your game that wasn't up to par, Lou would make sure he'd send a couple of top guys to correct it. For me, it was tipping in pucks, since I really didn't want to be hit with a slap shot."
Lamoriello spent 15 seasons as coach at Providence, compiling a .578 winning percentage (248-179-13) while guiding the Friars to 12 consecutive postseason tournaments, including the 1983 Final Four in his final season.
"To encourage my development, Lou used to send out some of the guy players to basically take slap shots at me until I started standing there and tipping them in," Curley said. "Thank goodness he moved up to become athletic director and we got a new men's hockey coach, because it was a lot easier. Seriously, though, everyone was such a huge help to me. I'm so grateful that hockey has played such a big part of my life."
After graduating from Providence, Curley went on to represent the United States four times in international competition (1990, 1992, 1994, 1995), winning a silver medal in each of the events.
Curley's finest moment came against Norway in the 1990 IIHF World Women's Championship, held at the Civic Centre in Ottawa, where she struck for a women's-record nine points (five goals and four assists) in a 17-0 victory. She finished the tournament with a record 23 points (11 goals) in five games to help the Americans earn a silver medal. Canada defeated the United States 5-2 in the gold-medal game.
-- Mike G. Morreale
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