BostonBruins.com – The 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class was announced on Monday evening and it is heavy in Bruins and New England connections.
Former Bruins standout Craig Janney, legendary Rhode Island high school coach Bill Belisle, and the 1996 U.S. World Cup of Hockey team will be inducted this fall in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn. (date to be announced).
“This is a truly magnificent class,” Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “Each member of the Class of 2016 has had an extraordinary impact on our sport and is most deserving to take their place among the hockey immortals in the United States.”
Janney played 12 seasons in the NHL after being drafted by the Bruins with the 13th overall pick in 1986. The native of Hartford, Conn., registered 188 goals and 563 assists for 751 points during his career, including 85 goals and 198 points in 262 games over five seasons with the Bruins, with whom he made trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 1988 and 1990.
"Just a really thrilling moment finding out about this great honor," Janney said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "I thought it might have passed me by. A lot of those guys on the ’96 World Cup team were kind of my generation and a lot of them have gone [into the Hall of Fame].
"To get that phone call was just an unbelievable honor and thrill. And to be able to take part in this celebration with a lot of the guys that I played with and against with USA hockey is really, truly a thrill."
Janney acknowledged his fortune to play with some of the greatest goal scorers of all-time during his career, specifically mentioning Bruins legend Cam Neely, as well as Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, and Keith Tkachuk.
"A playmaker’s only as good as his finishers," said Janney. "I played with some of the best of our generation. They’re just great goal scorers and my thought process was, playing with guys of that caliber, if you can make them have three or four quality chances a game in the place where they like to get the puck, they’re going to score one or two goals.
"I went into every game thinking of that...get it in their comfortable spots, they're going to get some goals and we’re going to win hockey games. I was fortunate – very fortunate – to play with some tremendous goal scorers."
Before joining the Bruins, Janney played two seasons at Boston College, where he was a Hobey Baker finalist in 1986-87, after setting Hockey East single-season records in points (74) and assists (51). Overall, Janney tallied 81 points in just 37 games that season.
Janney ranks first among American-born NHL skaters in assists per game (0.741), while his 563 assists are 11th all-time.
Several former Bruins were members of the 1996 U.S. World Cup team, which won the inaugural tournament by posting a 6-0-1-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record. Team USA defeated Canada, 2-1, in the best-of-three championship series.
Defenseman Brian Leetch, who finished his career with the Bruins in 2005-06, shared the tournament lead in assists with seven. Other former Bruins on that team included Bill Guerin, Brian Rolston, Shawn McEachern, Bryan Smolinski, and Jim Carey.
Belisle, 86, is entering his 42nd season as head coach of the boy’s hockey team at Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I. During his historic tenure, Belisle has captured 32 state championships, including 26 straight from 1978-2003, and has posted a 990-183-37 record.
He has also sent on 20 of his players to be drafted by NHL teams, including Bryan Berard and Jeff Jillson, who each played for the Bruins in 2002-03 and 2003-04, respectively.