Three former members of the Colorado Avalanche were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night in a ceremony in Toronto, Ontario. Avalanche alums Dave Andreychuk, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne headlined a seven-member class of 2017.
Andreychuk played 21 NHL campaigns and 1,639 games in total. He recorded 1,338 points, registering 640 goals and 698 assists, and captained the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup title. After nine years of eligibility, he is now among hockey's best.
"First off when you think about the journey that starts, you think about how you're going to achieve this," Andreychuk began his induction speech. "Nobody thinks that I want to be a hall of famer. Nobody thinks that that is where I want to be, I want to be in the hall. You think about just trying to play in the NHL and think about trying to make your team better. Well, a lot of it is about who is with you and how you get there and the circle that you have around you."
The Hamilton, Ontario, native joined Avs late in the 1999-00 season, coming over from the Boston Bruins in the trade that also sent Ray Bourque to Colorado.
"I played with a guy named Ray Bourque, who to me was probably the best player that I've ever played with. I was only with him for a short time--I did get traded in the Ray Bourque deal. I was kind of a throw in," Andreychuk said jokingly. "Nobody really knows that, but getting traded with Ray Bourque has some perks. They sent a private jet to come pick us up."
He recorded three points (one goal and two assists) in 14 games with Colorado at the end of that regular season and added five points (three goals and two assists) during the Avs' run to the Western Conference Finals that year.
"I was only in Denver for a short period of time," Andreychuk said. "I enjoyed Denver a lot. I didn't play in the West very often, but it was a great place to play. A winning attitude like no other on that team. You win the Stanley Cup or anything less is not good enough."
Kariya joined the Avs with longtime friend Selanne for the 2003-04 season and tallied 36 points (11 goals and 25 assists) in 51 contests that year. Colorado's team that season had a stacked roster with the likes of Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay, and Kariya appreciated the chance to play them.
"I would like to thank the Colorado Avalanche organization," Kariya said Monday. "Thank you to (general manager) Pierre Lacroix and (head coach) Tony Granato for giving Teemu and I the opportunity to play with such an incredibly talented group."
In 15 years in the NHL, Kariya racked up 989 points in 989 games, registering 402 goals and 587 assists in all. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy twice and played in the NHL All-Star Game seven times.
"I would spend countless of hours with my eyes closed, visualizing in my mind being Wayne Gretzky, coming behind the net, setting up Jari Kurri in the slot. Or going across the circles like Brett Hull, one-timing a no-look behind-the-back pass from Adam Oates," Kariya said in his induction speech. "As I've walked through this hall and as I look throughout the audience tonight, I am reminded how many hall of famers influenced the way I tried to play or took me under their wings and taught me what it takes to be a professional on and off the ice. Thank you to members of the hockey hall of fame for the inspiration and guidance you gave me."
Selanne registered 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 78 games while being a teammate of Kariya's on the Avalanche during the 2003-04 campaign. He dealt with injuries that season but recognized on Monday the experience of playing with the great players Colorado had on its roster.
"It was really tough for me with my knee problems, but I learned a lot from that year." Selanne recalled Monday on his time with the Avs. "I learned from guys like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, obviously Paul, Rob Blake, Adam Foote--those guys [taught] me how to win. How to do the things properly every day, and I'm very thankful for that. I learned a lot from that year."
In total, Selanne put up 1,457 points (684 goals, 773 assists) during his 21-season NHL career. He won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks and won four Olympic medals and two World Championship medals for his native Finland. It was his first year of eligibility for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame earlier this year.
"When I was a little boy growing up in Finland, if somebody would have told me what kind of career I would have had, it would be really hard to believe," Selanne said in his induction speech. "All I wanted to do was play sports, and especially hockey. My goal was to play in the top league in Finland and my dream was playing for the national team and my fantasy was the NHL. NHL felt like too far. I didn't believe that I would ever make it, but all those things happen very fast."
The Avalanche now has nine former players that have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Andreychuk, Kariya and Selanne join Jari Kurri (class of 2001), Ray Bourque (class of 2004), Patrick Roy (class of 2006), Joe Sakic (2012), Rob Blake (class of 2014) and Peter Forsberg (class of 2014) as hall members to have played in Colorado.
Other members of the 2017 class include three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi, Canadian college hockey coach Clare Drake, retired Canadian women's player Danielle Goyette and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.
The Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1943 and has a mandate to "recognize and honor the achievements of players, builders and officials who bring special distinction to the game of hockey, and to collect, preserve, research and exhibit objects, images and resource materials connected with the game as it is played in Canada and throughout the world."