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U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Survival instincts helped Rafalski to U.S. Hall of Fame

Wednesday, 12.03.2014 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Former University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach Jeff Sauer vividly recalls the day he reached out to New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello with a little insight on a player he felt destined to make it big.

That player was 5-foot-10 Brian Rafalski, who at the time was considered by scouts an undersized defenseman incapable of handling the rigors of an NHL season.

"Lou told me he was too small and wouldn't be able to stand the physical game," Sauer said. "But four years later he was playing in the NHL and playing for Lou."

Lamoriello confirmed how Rafalski was back on his radar four years after Sauer's recommendation.

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Vairo's innovations to U.S. game led to Hall induction

Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Four years before "The Miracle" in Lake Placid, Lou Vairo was leading his midget junior team in the United States Hockey League to a national championship while introducing European concepts of training and playing rarely seen in this country.

His teachings stressed puck control and pursuit, passing and speed through the neutral zone. It was a style of play Vairo embraced after a visit with Soviet Union coach Anatoli Tarasov at a clinic in Moscow in 1972. From that moment, Vairo was hooked and determined to pass along this knowledge to anyone willing to listen.

"Tarasov's hockey was different than anyone else's and it just fascinated me," Vairo said. "I brought the best features of North American hockey, which was basically Canadian, and European, basically Soviet, and tried to mend them together to fit the culture of our people."

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Jeff Sauer built coaching success on communication

Monday, 12.01.2014 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

In decades of coaching, Jeff Sauer had to learn many different ways to communicate with his players.

These days, he is using that ability with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association.

"The big thing with the [hearing-impaired] kids is just giving them a chance," Sauer said. "By giving them a chance, they really bond together well and they really stick up for each other. ... It's rejuvenated me from a coaching standpoint."

Sauer, who will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Thursday, has worked with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, of which he is now president, for more than four decades. His relationship with the organization started when, as Sauer tells it, a parent of a deaf player in the Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired asked if their son and another player could participate in a camp Sauer was running when he coached at Colorado College. Four days later, Sauer was asked if he would continue working with the school, and he has been a part of the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association ever since.

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Trailblazer Bye Dietz to enter U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Sunday, 11.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

Early in her athletic career, Karyn Bye Dietz arrived at a crossroads.

She entered the ninth grade at River Falls High School in Wisconsin excelling in hockey and basketball. Her hockey ambitions, though, were met with resistance because for the female athlete, the sport wasn't thought to offer a career path. Her father told her so, as did River Falls' varsity basketball coach. Each tried to convince her to stick with basketball.

But there was something about hockey that touched Bye Dietz’s heart, the speed and grace of being on the ice along with a test of her will and perseverance; to survive and thrive playing with boys under exacting circumstances.

"There were teams that I played against that they did not like having a girl out there," she said. "They would actually try to take extra hits at me or go after me.

"It was a daily habit of mine, but I felt that I had to prove that not only to myself but to my teammates on a daily basis that I was good enough to be there, because I obviously took the spot of another boy that didn't make the team. As I got older the challenge became tougher. When I was 12 years old, I was the tallest one out there and, quite honestly, I think I was one of the fastest ones. But as the boys matured they caught up to me and actually went ahead of me, so that's when the challenge really took place when I felt like I had to work that much harder just to prove I deserve to be there.

"I think, looking back, that's what made me the player that I became."


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Rafalski headlines U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 3:12 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Four Olympic medalists, including two players and two coaches who played an integral role in establishing the sport of hockey in the United States on several fronts, will headline this year's inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

The honorees, announced Wednesday by USA Hockey, include Brian Rafalski, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time Stanley Cup champion. He is joined by Karyn Bye Dietz, who served as alternate captain for the gold medal-winning U.S. women's team at the 1998 Nagano Games; Jeff Sauer, college coaching legend and coach of the gold medal-winning 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team; and Lou Vairo, who was an assistant coach for the silver medal-winning U.S. team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

"The class of 2014 is an extraordinary collection of individuals that have had an immensely positive impact on hockey in our country," president of USA Hockey Ron DeGregorio said. "Cumulatively, they have been involved at every level of hockey and this group is a big reason why our sport has advanced to the point it has in the United States."

The 42nd U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony will be held in Minnesota on Dec. 4 at a site to be announced.


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Weight, Guerin lead U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class

Monday, 12.02.2013 / 10:40 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

DETROIT -- Through all the teams, through all the years, Bill Guerin encapsulated his friendship with Doug Weight at the beginning of his speech Monday during the induction ceremony for the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

"Dougie told me he has an A speech and a B speech," Guerin said, laughing. "So I better tread lightly."

A friendship that began in the early 1990s at an Olympic festival when the two were amateurs came full circle Monday, when they were inducted together into the U.S. Hockey Hall.

Joining them in this year's group was former Michigan State University coach Ron Mason, women's hockey pioneer Cindy Curley, and Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos.

In addition, USA Today national hockey writer Kevin Allen was honored with the Lester Patrick Award for contributions to hockey in the United States.

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USA Today writer Allen honored with Lester Patrick

Monday, 12.02.2013 / 5:00 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

DETROIT -- After years of asking players what it means to win the Stanley Cup, Kevin Allen finally understands what they mean by their answers.

Allen, the longtime national NHL writer for USA Today, is the 2013 winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy, awarded annually for contributions to hockey in the United States.

Allen received his award during the United States Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday at the Sound Board Theater in the Motor City Casino.

"It's really been a humbling experience," Allen told NHL.com. "I've interviewed so many guys when they win the Cup and they said it's surreal and indescribable and not knowing what to say, that's kind of what I'm going with now. I guess I understand what they're saying. I'm not comparing it to winning a Cup, but I think the emotions for them, it's similar to what I feel."

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Guerin used Olympic disappointment as motivation

Sunday, 12.01.2013 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk were packing to go to the 1992 Albertville Olympics when the phone rang in their room. The call was for Guerin. His life was about to change.

"They called me up and cut me," Guerin told NHL.com. "I don't know what the reason was."

Guerin chose not to sign with the New Jersey Devils after his second season at Boston College because he wanted to try to make the Olympic team, because playing for the United States meant that much to him.

Three days after he was cut, Guerin signed with the Devils, who selected him with the fifth pick in the 1989 NHL Draft. He was immediately shipped to Utica, N.Y., to play for New Jersey's American Hockey League affiliate. His coach there was Herb Brooks, one of the few people who could truly sympathize with Guerin and his close-but-no-cigar Olympic bid.

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Weight helped usher in new era of American hockey

Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It's a moment Doug Weight was hopeful would come, but deep down he had to know it was inevitable.

One of the more talented American forwards to ever play the game, Weight, now an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night at the Motor City Casino in his hometown of Detroit.

Weight, 42, is part of a class that also includes one of his closest friends, Bill Guerin, along with Cindy Curley, Peter Karmanos, Jr. and Ron Mason. Weight played for six teams in the NHL (New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks and the Islanders) and had 278 goals and 755 assists in 1,238 games. He added another 23 goals and 49 assists in 97 Stanley Cup Playoff games and helped the Hurricanes win the franchise's lone championship in 2006.

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Mason's decision to coach led to U.S. Hall of Fame

Friday, 11.29.2013 / 3:00 AM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

A lot of people end up in graduate school without knowing particularly what they want to do when they grow up. Ron Mason was working on a doctorate in education at the University of Pittsburgh when he had a radical idea. What a life decision it turned out to be.

"I didn't really think much about coaching, even though I loved the game and thought I knew it pretty well," Mason said about his future after a decorated career as a player at St. Lawrence University. "When I was at graduate school, I was on my second year of working on my doctorate, I said, 'You know, this school is kind of wearing me out. Maybe I should try something different.' I told my wife I wanted to be a hockey coach, and she sort of just laughed because I had no real experience coaching."

Mason decided to give it a try and began applying for jobs. He had two offers, one at Merrimack College and the other at Lake Superior State University, which was about to be a fledgling program at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics level.

He accepted the job at Lake Superior State and began a coaching career that would span four decades. Mason became one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, and Monday he will be enshrined in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Detroit.

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure