Thursday’s Avalanche game was special for more than one reason. First and foremost, it was the opening night of the 2008-09 season for Colorado. Fans packed the stands to watch the Avalanche take on the Boston Bruins at Pepsi Center.
But there was another special event happening on Thursday, as the Avalanche honored the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2008 prior to faceoff against the Bruins.
Four pioneers of American Hockey – Cammi Granato, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter – were recognized for everything they accomplished during their illustrious careers.Photo Gallery: Avs Honor U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees
Prior to the game, the four inductees shared their thoughts on a number of subjects.Cammi GranatoOn experiencing the Olympics first-hand in 1998
“The whole thing was just amazing, because it was our first Olympics. I grew up watching the Olympics and we really looked up to the 1980 team. So going to the Games, being in the Olympic village, eating in the cafeteria, getting on the team bus; I absorbed everything. And winning was the best feeling ever.”Brett HullOn the Avalanche honoring the inductees
“It’s very nice. It shows you the class of an organization they are. Coming into the future, I think they’ll have some of their own doing the same thing. It’s not so much a big deal, but it’s just the respect and honor code among the generations. We may not look that old right now, but some day we will be and we’ll look back on this as a great honor.” Brian Leetch On how the expectations for American hockey have changed
“The United States goes into tournaments now expecting to be successful. There’s a much different disappointment level when it doesn’t happen as opposed to what it used to be. [When Leetch played for Team USA] it was a little bit of ‘that’s what we were expected to do.’ We didn’t exceed expectations, but we did what we were expected to do, and that’s the big difference I see in USA Hockey” Mike RichterOn how the hockey culture has changed in Colorado since he began his pro career with the Denver Rangers (IHL)
“Winning a couple of Stanley Cups will do that. What a team! That’s exactly what you want; you want a team to come into an area that’s kind of starved for the sport and have success. To come in there with that team – and Patrick Roy on top of it – that team was just jelling, waiting for the right time to explode.”