MONTREAL - Five months after learning that he'd be among this year's inductees into the Hall of Fame, Guy Carbonneau officially entered the pantheon of hockey on Monday night in Toronto.
When it was his turn to take the stage, Carbonneau's former teammate and mentor Bob Gainey presented him with his Hall of Fame plaque.
Then, the 59-year-old Sept-Iles, QC native delivered an eloquent speech that reflected upon his lengthy road to achieving the highest honor bestowed upon those involved in the game.
"It's an unbelievable honor and a true privilege to stand here before you tonight. I'm very grateful for this humbling experience," said Carbonneau, to begin his address. "Being inducted in the Hall of Fame, never in my wildest dreams. I definitely wasn't prepared for that. I'm still dealing with this career highlight."
After thanking his hometown supporters and those who helped him in the Junior ranks while sporting the colors of the QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens, he referenced the day he officially joined the Canadiens fold.
"How can I forget August 9, 1979 when my first dream came true. Being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, I was thrilled," recalled Carbonneau, who was selected in the third round, 44th overall at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. "I had spent my childhood watching Habs games on TV, looking at Beliveau and Lafleur's every move, and of course witness their Stanley Cup parades."
And it wasn't long before Carbonneau's NHL dreams became a reality…
"My dream came true in 1982, and for the next 12 years I had the chance to play for the Montreal Canadiens," mentioned Carbonneau. "Once again, I had the chance to play under coaches who helped me become a better player and a leader. I'd like to thank Bob Berry, Jean Perron, Pat Burns, but especially Jacques Lemaire for believing in what I can do on the ice and molding me into the player that got me here today. Thank you Jacques Demers for being just who you are - a really, really great human being, and a great coach."
The former Habs captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion also tipped his cap to team brass for their incredible efforts.
"To be successful, you need good teammates and dedicated coaches, but you also need great ownership. The Molson family has been involved with the club for half a century, making the storied franchise what it is. Thanks to Eric, David, Andrew and Geoff for your dedication and leadership over the years," praised Carbonneau. "Thanks also to Ronald Corey, Serge Savard and Pierre Boivin."
He followed that up by expressing his genuine love for his former colleagues in Montreal.
"I also had the fortune of playing with great teammates who shared their knowledge and experience. They taught me what leadership is all about, and it serves me well to this day," said Carbonneau. "Just imagine, starting your career with guys like Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Mario Tremblay, Steve Shutt, and especially two teammates with whom I had the chance to win my first Stanley Cup in 1986 - Bob Gainey and Chris Nilan. And who can forget the '93 Stanley Cup. A longshot to win it, we were all in together. I'd like to thank guys like Patrick [Roy], Vinny [Vincent Damphousse], Savvy [Brian Savage], Keaner [Mike Keane], Kirky [Kirk Muller], Breezer [Patrice Brisebois], and the rest of my teammates. Thank you all!"
The three-time Selke Trophy winner proceeded to close his speech with a wonderful remark.
"The good part now is that when people ask me in the street if I'm in the Hockey Hall of Fame, my answer will be yes," concluded Carbonneau, to the delight of the crowd.
Carbonneau's fellow inductees in the Class of 2019 included Hayley Wickenheiser, Sergei Zubov, Vaclav Nedomansky, Jim Rutherford, and Jerry York.