Stevie Y caps a great night
11.09.2009 / 8:55 p.m. ET
Arguably the most celebrated Canadian sports figure right now, Yzerman opened his speech by cracking this:
"I thought this was going to be my one night of reprieve in talking about the Olympic teams. I have enough stress in my life just worrying about this speech let alone being reminded there is a gold medal out there."
He did a magnificent job in his speech.
"It's such an honor for me to be inducted into the Hall tonight. As a boy my idols were hockey players. I worshipped them and my room was covered with posters of all of these players. It's an honor for me."
Instead of thanking all of his favorite players, he mentioned just one: Bryan Trottier.
"The League has been scattered with No. 19 centerman out there and the reason I chose No. 19 was because of No. 19 of the New York Islanders, Bryan Trottier. I wore that number in his honor. He was a player I looked up to and admire. If I can stand up here and thank Bryan, and I'm not sure if he is here, I hope I did his number proud."
Trottier, by the way, is here.
Yzerman compared Brian Leetch to Bobby Orr.
"Just watching the '94 playoffs, the end to end rushes, the goals you scored and the plays you made were reminiscent to me of the great Bobby Orr. It's the closest I have seen anyone come to Bobby Orr in the playoffs."
There was a lot of talk tonight about a great line of Robitaille on the left, Yzerman in the middle and Hull on the right. Yzerman dispelled that notion.
"Scotty (Bowman) tried that line. He hated it. He split us up and put us on three different lines."
Of his wife and daughters, Yzerman said, "You have given me more joy and I have had more fun with you than anything I have done in the game of hockey. I'm so proud of you all. I'm a lucky husband and a very, very, very lucky father."
After thanking his parents, Yzerman said he was not a natural born leader, but was molded into a leader by the people in the Detroit Red Wings organization. That's when he went into a long and impassioned part of his speech about the Ilitch family.
"When I was a boy I would look up in the stands and to see my father, a simple nod from him was enough. To be able to look up into the Ilitch suite and see Mike and Marion up there and knowing their passion for the Red Wings was great motivation for me. I had the great fortune to present the Stanley Cup to Mike and Marion and their family on the bench in Joe Louis Arena. It was a great moment of pride and of relief for me."
He continued on by thanking Jim Devellano, who drafted him in 1983, and then to Ken Holland, the current GM of the Wings and architect of their dynasty.
"It's been very interesting in a lot of the discussions we have had, getting our veteran players to the finish line. I stand here today and I think it's safe to say I'm at the finish line. I have made it to that finish line and it's time to get some other of our players up here."
Finally, Yzerman went there. You know what I mean.
He talked about international hockey, about Hockey Canada, about winning gold in 2002.
"I got to play with legends and room with legends, tremendous players and tremendous memories for me playing for Canada. I look forward to this winter getting back to international competition in the Olympics.
"I'm certain of one thing. I'm where I want to be, working with and amongst the people I enjoy, the hockey world is a special place and I have the opportunity to thank you all for making it possible for me."
Slick Robitaille marvels in his speech
11.09.2009 / 8:30 p.m. ET
Robitaille, wearing a snazzy black on black shirt, tie and suit, was wonderful in going back between English and French.
First, though, he had this to say about Lamoriello. It cracked me up.
"You hear about the legend throughout the years, and to be with you this weekend, I was so nervous I wanted to make sure I was always on time."
When he thanked his mom and dad, he could barely make it through without choking up. He spoke mostly in French.
He thanked the people in Hull, QC, where it all started for him. Pat Burns was his coach.
"Pat, I know you're fighting and we're all with you. Thank you for your friendship and teaching me to be a man."
He thanked Alex Smart, a Kings scout from Ottawa in the early 80s who believed in him.
"I was apparently on one list, one person who believed in me, and his name was Alex Smart. That was the scout that believed in me, and the reason I'm speaking English and the reason I'm married to a beautiful wife is because of him."
He thanked Marcel Dionne, who he lived with as a rookie.
"You will never know what it meant to me to just have the opportunity to think about just playing hockey everyday."
Bruce McNall, the former Kings owner, received a lot of Robitaille's gratitude.
"Thank you for making hockey in Southern California possible and for me, I want to thank you for bringing my idol and giving me a chance to play with my favorite player in Wayne Gretzky. Those memories I have playing with you Wayne, I will cherish for my life."
He thanked the Ilitch family and Scotty Bowman for "capping my career and giving me a chance to win the Stanley Cup. After trying for 16 years it was certainly one of the greatest moments of my career."
He mentioned Kings Governor Tim Leiweke, who promised he would bring Luc back to L.A. and he came through on his word.
"Tim, thank you for living up to your word and more importantly, with the help of Dean (Lombardi) we will have a Stanley Cup in Los Angeles soon."
In a funny moment, he thanked all of his former roommates and said they were the ones who had to go to the front desk at the hotel to check him out.
"I told them I couldn't check out because it was part of my ritual and I would have a bad game. So they checked out for me."
After thanking his wife and children, he talked about the fans in Los Angeles.
"All my friends, the words of support and the emails I have gotten in the last few months have been amazing."
Finally, Luc read a quote that a friend of his wrote about him. He said he typically wouldn't talk about himself in this way, but it rang true as the longshot who made it to the Hall of Fame.
"Hope is the light that shines on the ninth-round draft picks of the world who are too slow, can't skate and don't have a chance to make it but compels them to achieve greatness anyway."
11.09.2009 / 8:08 p.m. ET
First off, Lamoriello definitely exceeded his four minutes. And it was worth it.
He thanked just about everybody possible, from the people he worked with at Providence College to the people he currently works with in New Jersey. He saw the current Devils who were in the crowd and cracked this: "A few of our players snuck out and are here this evening. I am hoping you spent a little of your money on your flights so you can make curfew."
Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was in the crowd and Lamoriello, who hired him at Providence, made mention of him and thanked him.
Before Lamoriello started his speech, he pulled out his glasses and said, "I'm going to have to do something you four fellas don't have to do."
Typical Lamoriello, he never put them on. He's better than them.
"To you four individuals, you guys took a lot of my hair away over the years," Lamoriello said of the player inductees.
He said he was blessed to meet and work for the late Dr. John McMullen, the Devils former owner. He added how he was blessed to work with current owner, Jeff Vanderbeek.
"Jeff Vanderbeek is not only an owner, but a friend. I thank you for allowing us to continue in New Jersey what we have had over the last years."
He mentioned the Devils' three Cup winning coaches, including Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson and Pat Burns, who is battling cancer.
"Pat, I know you are watching. Each and every one of us has our prayers with you. If there is anyone who can beat it, you can."
He also mentioned the five players who won all three Cups: Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Ken Daneyko and Sergei Brylin.
"They exemplify and still do what we feel the Devils represent."
He went on to talk about his parents, the late Rose and Nick.
"They came to this country and never made it beyond grade school. They gave my brother and my sister values that never expect anything, work at what you have control of, thank God everyday for what you receive and just make the most of it. I know you have been with us each and everyday throughout our lives, never missing anything. I know you are not missing today."
He could barely contain himself in talking about his children, Chris, Heidi and Tim plus his daughter-in-law Vicky and granddaughters, Mary and Anna.
"Mary had an accident the other day, she fell off a jungle gym, landed on her wrists and both broke of them. She has casts on both of her wrists that are both purple and she never said a word."
He made a point to thank Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Colin Campbell of the NHL.
"You have an extremely difficult job in this day and age. I thank you for what you do. I don't know of anyone who could do it better. With the support of all our owners, we can't lose."
And, finally, he ended with this about his fellow inductees:
"These four gentleman, there are no four better hockey players out there, but I tell you what, they are better people. I would love to start off with that line (Robitaille, Yzerman and Hull) with Brian on defense and can you imagine adding that to Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Ken Daneyko and Marty Brodeur in net."
Leetch stays classy
11.09.2009 / 7:42 p.m. ET
Brian Leetch started out his speech with class and finished it. He started by congratulating Dave Molinari (Elmer Ferguson winner) and John Davidson (Foster Hewitt winner).
"J.D. was in New York my whole career, and I appreciated his advice, friendship and comfort," Leetch said. "J.D., thanks and it is a well-deserved award to you."
He ended his speech by saying this: "You look at the Hockey Hall of Fame as one big team in one big locker room. Even if I never get on the ice for one shift, it's the best team to be on and I'm truly honored."
In between, Leetch talked about his first memories as a player being as a 5-year-old in Cheshire, Conn.
"The dream of being an NHL player wasn't there. It was too farfetched to be imagined," Leetch said. "I played hockey because it was fun and my friends played hockey because it was fun. You look back now and all the time the youth coaches put in and volunteered I want to thank them, but the biggest thing for me is the way they kept the game fun. I encourage all youth coaches to try and do the same. It was what drew me to the game."
He mentioned his parents and his brother Eric and sister Beth.
"Couldn't be more fortunate to have a mom and dad that encouraged us to play sports and always put us first. You looked to the sidelines or the bench and one of them was there.
"I'm in that same lucky role now as a parent and with my lovely wife Marybeth we're trying to find that same foundation for our three kids."
He thanked the people at Avon Old Farm School and Boston College, where he developed as a player and got exposure to USA Hockey.
"Both of these places allowed me to improve with the on ice coaching, playing against elite players and my exposure to USA Hockey gave me the skill level and confidence to say maybe this dream is not impossible," Leetch said. "It allowed me to realize the NHL is something that is going to be in my future."
He said what a privilege it was to play for three Original Six teams, but of New York he had this to say: "During those years you meet so many people and share so many experiences. … We became part of one big extended family. Our hope was to play a part in bringing a championship to New York but through our daily interactions memories were created. For fear of leaving anyone out, I can only say my sincere gratitude and appreciation to anyone who helped shape my days in New York. Madison Square Garden and New York City will always feel like home to me."
Then, Leetch thanked four former teammates in particular.
Jeff Beukeboom: "My partner and body guard for a lot of those years."
Adam Graves: "A great man and a foundation on most of our teams."
Mike Richter: "Our big game goalie and he erased a lot of my mistakes."
Mark Messier: "Our leader and probably had the most influence on my career outside of my parents."
Hull receives plaque, thanks the world
11.09.2009 / 7:25 p.m. ET
Brett Hull gave an impassioned speech that will be hard to top by the other four nominees.
"It's a little overwhelming," Hull said. "I look out there and look at other great honorees and I can't tell you how proud I am to be with you."
He said of Ken Holland, "He gave me the opportunity to play for maybe the greatest team ever assembled." And, of Scotty Bowman, "The greatest coach to ever coach the game, and I won a Stanley Cup with him."
He mentioned Ron Caron and Brian Sutter from his early days in St. Louis, and Bob Gainey and Ken Hitchcock from his championship days in Dallas.
He said of his mother, "She gave me my razor sharp wit that I use daily with the media."
Of his father, fellow Hall of Famer, Bobby Hull, "You taught me to use my mind. The best advice ever given, the further you are from the play the closest you are to it. I was really fortunate that I was able to figure out what the hell he was talking about."
When he talked of his kids, he started to choke up a bit. Of his wife, "I love you because you get me. You accept my faults and just because you are who you are I am very lucky to have you as my best friend."
He gave a nice tribute to the late Peter Zezel, thanked all of his teammates, and said of Gretzky, "He didn't just play the game; he is the game and always will be."
He then said he was accepting the honor for those playing pickup and beer league hockey who never got the honor that he did and for mom's waking up at 5 a.m. to drive their kid to the rink and dads spending money to buy tickets to the game.
It was awesome.
The curtain is up, let the show start
11.09.2009 / 7:05 p.m. ET
The red carpet is over and the show is starting. It was a potpourri of Hockey Hall of Famers up there, including Wayne Gretzky.
He spoke for a while in front of a huge gathering of media, but I could barely hear what he had to say. Luckily, I had my tape recorder going and so did Shawn Roarke. We'll see what we can make of it.
I had a chance to speak with many of the people up there, including Larry Murphy, who said of Brian Leetch, "He skated like the wind. He would break up a play at the blue line and the next thing you know he's coming down at you 100 miles per hour."
Perhaps the coolest tidbit to come out of being upstairs was seeing current Devils Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, Colin White, David Clarkson, Jay Pandolfo, Jamie Langenbrunner plus the retired Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens.
They all came to honor Lou Lamoriello, but the GM wasn't aware that they were doing it.
So, of course, I joked with Parise that Lamoriello could be mad that they're not home resting in their beds. Remember, Lamoriello is known as a pretty good stickler and he knows everything that goes in with his organization.
"Hopefully we don't get in trouble," Parise said. It was hilarious.
Other people I saw up there included Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scotty Bowman, Mike Babcock, Ken Holland, Chris Chelios, Joe Nieuwendyk, Bill Daly, Bryan Trottier, Bob Gainey, Michel Goulet, Bobby Hull, John Davidson, Doug Armstrong and numerous others. Even Kevin Smith, the movie director, huge Devils fan and NHL.com contributor, is here.
Well, the show is going on right now and I better get to listening.
Buzz is building here at HHOF
11.09.2009 / 5:30 p.m.
The buzz is building in and around the Hockey Hall of Fame as the ceremony is expected to begin in roughly 90 minutes.
Word around the media center is that Wayne Gretzky is going to be here tonight, but nobody is quite sure if he's going to walk the red carpet or talk to the media assembled here. The procession of Hall of Famers down the red carpet begins shortly.
I'll be heading up there for that and will report if Gretzky does talk to the media, but if I had to guess I would say he won't because he doesn't want to take the spotlight off of any of the inductees, many of whom he played and won with.
The media center here is filling up. Everyone always seems to thoroughly enjoy this event because it's a celebration and the people that are going in are respected by everyone in the media.
I'll be back in a bit with an update from the red carpet and maybe some comments from a few guys I speak to.
Keep hitting refresh.
Live blog coming
11.9.09 / 2:30 PM ET
So you're sitting there on your computer tonight and your significant other is watching Two and a Half Men or some other sitcom. You, though, want to know what Steve Yzerman has to say in his Hall of Fame speech.
Will he cry? Will he buckle under the pressure? Who will he thank? Who will be there to support him?
You want to know all of this, but you can't get control of the remote. What do you do?
Fear not, I'm here to rescue you.
I'll be sitting downstairs near the Hockey Hall of Fame in the media center, otherwise known as the Piazza Manna restaurant, watching a live feed of tonight's Hockey Hall of Fame inductions and writing and live blogging the entire thing.
Starting with the prestigious red carpet at around 6 o'clock and finishing up with the final speech of the night, everything and anything you can think of from the Hockey Hall of Fame will be written about right here in this blog.
You want a seen and heard? You got it.
You want a feel for the buzz in the building? You got it.
You want to know what Yzerman, Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Lou Lamoriello have to say? You got it.
It'll be all right here, so come on back tonight and I promise you won't be disappointed. Or, at least, I hope you won't be disappointed.
If you are, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to give you what you want.
It's your Hockey Hall of Fame live blog and it starts soon.
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com