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Taking a bite out of Hall of Fame night

Monday, 11.10.2008 / 9:59 PM / Hall of Fame

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Dan Rosen is at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto to cover Induction Weekend 2008. He will be filing a daily diary to keep the NHL.com readers abreast of all that's happening at the corner of Front and Yonge Streets. He invites you to come along for his journey.

The Hall of Famers were finished strolling down the red carpet and most of the attending media was downstairs in the restaurant, Piazza Manna, which turns into the media center for the induction ceremony.

Of course, no matter where the media goes there has to be food, and there was here and it was good. Wings and pizza and lasagna and sandwiches and wraps and a salad. Good stuff, right?

Yeah, Steve Yzerman thought so.

That's right, that Steve Yzerman.

As I was setting up my computer here Yzerman strolled in looking for a bite to eat. He found himself some lasagna and a few wings and sat down at a table to munch. Yzerman said he was hungry and he needed something to tide himself over.

He was in here for maybe 10 minutes if not less, but he got what he wanted.

If you think it was strange to have a hockey legend come into the media center for a meal, you're not alone.

"You guys invade our territory all the time," Yzerman said, "so I figured I'd invade yours."

Happy to oblige, Stevie. Any time.

Soon after Stevie left the room the induction ceremony got underway. James Duthie from TSN opened the ceremony with a funny line about Mark Messier's ridiculously long speech last year and we were underway.

Long-time Canadian broadcaster Dick Irvin joined Duthie on stage as a co-host and after Hockey Hall of Fame president Bill Hay gave a short address to the audience it was time for the speeches.

Igor Larionov went first. His speech lasted maybe 5 minutes, but I didn't time it. Larionov looked comfortable on stage as he rested his elbow on the podium, but he rarely looked up from his paper.

He did a great job. He was quick, thorough, and I can't think of anyone he might have left out, though he would know better than me.

I thought it was great that Larionov said he was "proud to be considered in such an honorable group of players as Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky." He spoke about the Russian system implemented by former coach Anatoli Tarasov that he was brought up on. He called it an "honorable system of hockey" and said he owed part of this induction to the Central Red Army and Soviet National teams.

He mentioned Slava Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov -- The Green Unit.

Larionov said he visited Canada twice as a young player and "came to understand that he played the best game in the world. In 1985 the Vancouver Canucks drafted me in the 11th round thinking I would never be able to come play, but 4 years later myself and other Soviet hockey players were the first to break the barrier."

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Scotty Bowman and the Ilitch family that owns the Detroit Red Wings were personally thanked. He made sure to recognize the Panthers, Sharks and Devils -- the other 3 teams he played for in the NHL besides the Wings and Canucks.

I thought it was particularly great that when Larionov talked about his family and mentioned his son, Igor, the little guy pumped his fists. He was just happy to hear his name.

"Thank you to all the hockey fans around the world who love and respect this game as much as I do," Larionov said. "It would mean nothing without your support."

Ray Scapinello went next and he was very firm and emotional with his strong but quick speech.

I thought it was a classy move by Scapinello to honor Neil Stevens and Mike Emrick. Stevens, a longtime Canadian Press reporter, was honored with the Elmer Ferguson Award earlier in the day. Emrick, who Scapinello called "the voice of the NHL in the U.S.," was honored with the Foster Hewitt Award at the same luncheon.

Scapinello said he didn't have enough time to thank everyone who had an affect on his career, but it would be "my mission" to do so individually.

However, he made it a point to thank 2 specific men: Scotty Morrison, who hired him in 1971, and John D'Amico, who he worked with for many years.

"Scotty," Scapinello said, looking at Morrison in the crowd, "you never told me what you saw in me or why you hired me and maybe you never will, but tonight in front of this audience I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

He called D'Amico "the greatest linesman to lace up the skates." Most importantly, Scapinello thanked his wife of 29 years, Maureen, and spoke of her strength in leading the household and keeping distractions such as his son Ryan's early-aged asthma problems to herself so he could focus on his work.

"Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life," Scapinello said. He concluded his speech by saying, "Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your evening 'cause I can assure you that I will."

After a long break between induction speeches, which included an address by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, a video of 10 highlight-reel goals to entertain the crowd and then a comedian who tried to entertain the crowd but mostly didn't (sorry), Irvin was back on to introduce Jeff Chynoweth, who was speaking on behalf of his dad, Ed, an inductee into the builder's category.

During the introduction, the feed was lost in the media center and the TV turned to snow. When it came back on, fortunately Jeff was just getting on stage so we caught the whole thing.

Chynoweth, like Larionov and Scapinello, was direct, quick and humble with his speech. He began by saying that he always "wondered what the inductees and families were feeling. Having now experienced it, it is something I'll never forget."

He thanked Billy Hay, Jim Gregory and Kelly Masse from the Hockey Hall of Fame. He congratulated the other inductees and said what an honor it has been to meet them. Chynoweth then said, "Growing up, I thought my dad had the best job in the world." He said he considered himself "the luckiest person in the world that my best friend, my father, taught me the hockey business."

Chynoweth called his dad a "visionary," and said he used to "wake up early in the morning and write his thoughts down." He then went on to thank numerous people who worked with his father throughout his entire career.

"Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life." --  Ray Scapinello

Finally, Jeff Chynoweth said, "They say behind every good man is a better woman. This is definitely the case for my father." Right then, Linda, who was married to Ed Chynoweth for 45 years until his death in April, began to cry.

From what I can tell, those were the first tears we saw tonight. Not bad, eh? Soon after we were on to our final speech of the night. Figures that Glenn Anderson would go last. After all, he had to wait 9 years to get into the Hall of Fame so what's another hour or so?

As he said would be the case, Anderson's facial stubble, which had the makings of a good Hall of Fame beard if he had another week, was gone. A clean-shaven Anderson strolled on stage and delivered the most memorable speech of the night.

Thanks, of course, to his 6-year-old adorable daughter Autumn.

Anderson said he still needed a speech, and on to the stage ran Autumn, with a picture she made in hand and a box of Kleenex. Autumn told her daddy that she wanted to see him cry.

Daddy didn't disappoint.

"Hockey is part of what and who I am.  This has been an incredible journey, and so worth waiting for." -- Glenn Anderson

Anderson began by praising his fellow inductees, but specifically Larionov and the Russian hockey system, which I thought was very honorable of him.

"My being inducted with Igor is very special because to me the Russian players made me a better player," he said. "Every time we played them I amped up my game."

Anderson choked up a few times during his speech. He nearly lost it when he was talking about Father David Bauer, his coach at Denver University who he called "one of my mentors." Anderson again nearly lost it when talking about Glen Sather, and he said, "I'm here because of you."

Anderson won't ever forget his coaches.

Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Lowe brought out some tears as well. In fact, in repeating something he has mentioned already this week, Anderson said that when Gretzky was traded it was like he lost a brother.

However, when he started talking about Mark Messier, that's when I am going to say he officially lost it. Kind of fitting isn't it, considering Messier couldn't hold it together last year.

A lot of people have fun with Messier because of that, but I thought it was just him being real and that's what made it great.

"Thank you to all the hockey fans around the world who love and respect this game as much as I do.  It would mean nothing without your support." -- Igor Larionov

"When I say your name I truly think of family," Anderson said of Messier before telling a story of when he first ate dinner at Messier's home with his family. The meal was roast beef and he was wearing a green velour shirt.

"I learned more about hockey at dinner in their home than I could have ever imagined," Anderson said before calling Messier the toughest hockey player he ever played against, even in practice. He referred to Messier as his guardian angel.

Anderson finally moved on to his family, thanking his parents -- his mom made it but his dad did not -- and his brother, Allen. He then called his wife, Susan, who was sitting with adorable Autumn, "my Stanley Cups, my rings, all my medals, my Hall of Fame, my love, my life, my everything.

"Hockey is part of what and who I am," Anderson said in closing. "This has been an incredible journey, and so worth waiting for."

Fitting words to define the entire weekend.

From Toronto, I hope you enjoyed our coverage. Thanks for reading.



 

Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com