Bob Stellick - Moderator
Bill Hay - Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame
Jim Gregory - Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Pat Quinn - Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee
CONFERENCE CALL PARTICIPANTS
Operator: All participants please stand by, your conference is ready to begin. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the conference call to announce the 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. I’d now like to turn the meeting over to Mr. Bob Stellick. Please go ahead, Mr. Stellick.
Bob Stellick: Thank you very much, Jaelle , and again, I’d like to welcome everyone, again, on brief notice today, for taking part in this call. We will have a question and answer session at the conclusion of the call today. And I would now like to introduce the Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Mr. Bill Hay.
Bill Hay: Thank you, Bob, and I just want to welcome all the members of the media, and explaining the composition of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee. There are 18 members, and rule of thumb is basically six media, six past members, most of them Hall of Fame, and six from the management, making up the 18. They really had a good session today, and I’m going to now congratulate all the winners who have been elected, and turn it over to Jimmy Gregory, as we have two Co-Chairman, which the media will recognize, Jim Gregory, and Pat Quinn. So, Jimmy?
Jim Gregory: Thank you very much, Bill. As Co-Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee, I have the opportunity to work with unbelievable individuals who represent all aspects of our game. The task of the Selection Committee is one that the, that all 18 members take very, very seriously. Today we considered a number of worthy candidates, at both the builder and player categories. I am pleased to announce that five outstanding individuals have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and I’d like to take this opportunity to ask my Selection Committee Co-Chair, Pat Quinn, to introduce our first player inductee. Pat?
Pat Quinn: Thank you, Jim. Our first player inductee hails from Belleville, Ontario, and after two years of college hockey at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, turned pro with the Calgary Flames organization in 1986. He played 19 NHL seasons, winning Stanley Cups with Detroit and Dallas. A three-time First Team NHL All-Star, he is part of the only NHL father, son duo to each record 600 goals and 1,000 points. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome as player inductee, Brett Hull. Brett is currently on a plane en route to Montreal for the NHL Governor’s Meetings. Bob Stellick will provide you with the contact information at the conclusion of this call.
Jim Gregory: Thank you, Pat. Our second player inductee was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and played his college hockey at Boston College. Drafted in the first round ninth overall by the New York Rangers in 1986, he went on to play 18 seasons, winning the James Norris Trophy twice. He holds numerous Ranger records, and was a key member of their 1993/94 Stanley Cup win, becoming the first US born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome as a player inductee, Mr. Brian Leetch. Congratulations, Brian.
Brian Leetch: Yes, thank you very much. A pretty overwhelming day to say the least, but certainly humbled, and excited and proud, and congratulations to the rest of the guys being inducted today, just an amazing thing, and something I’m very humbled by and very proud of, so thank you very much.
Pat Quinn, Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee: Thank you, Brian. Our third player inductee is a native of Montreal, Quebec, and played his junior hockey in Hull under the tutelage of Pat Burns. A ninth round selection of the Los Angeles Kings in 1984, he won the Calder Trophy in his rookie season in 1987, and went on to play in 18 more NHL seasons. Winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002, he ranks 10th amongst NHLers all-time in scoring, and his eight 40 plus goal seasons only surpassed, are only surpassed by Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome as a player inductee, Luc Robitaille.
Luc Robitaille: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks, Pat, especially, you were my first coach, so it certainly is great that we’ve touched back again, it’s great. And I feel the same as Brian, certainly we’ve been with all those great people. Four of my, I mean three of my team-mates are certainly very special, and it’s going to be a great day, and to be there too with Lou is certainly is very special, so I want to thank everyone.
Jim Gregory, Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee: Thanks very much, Luc. Our fourth and final player inductee hails from Cranbrook, BC, and was selected fourth overall by Detroit Red Wings in the 1983 entry draft. He went on to play 22 seasons for the Red Wings, serving as team captain from 1986 to 2006. He led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups, and was a member of Canada’s gold winning Olympic team in 2002. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome as player inductee, Mr. Steve Yzerman. Congratulations, Steve. ]
Steve Yzerman: Thank you, Jim. I really appreciate it. And to everyone on the Selection Committee I’m very grateful for the honour. This is a tremendous class of players and without spoiling the surprise, having Lou Lamoriello go into the class with us is a tremendous honour for me, (inaudible) with Brett, Luc, and Brian, tremendous players, two of which I got to play with, and played throughout Brian’s career. A very special group, and a real thrill for me to go into the Hall of Fame with them, along with Lou, who is someone who I’ve, in management, that I’ve greatly admired throughout my playing career, and now at the beginning of my management career as well. So again, it’s a tremendous honour for me, and I really look forward to November 9th too for the ceremonies where we’ll officially go into the Hall together.
Pat Quinn, Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee: Thank you, Steve. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to also welcome an outstanding individual in the builder category. Our builder began his career at Providence College where he began as a player, and then continued on as coach, and later, Athletic Director. After 20 years working at the collegiate level, he joined the New Jersey Devils as team President in 1987. Under his leadership, the Devils have won three Stanley Cups; in ’95, 2000, and 2003. In addition, he has served as the General Manager of Team USA during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. The Hockey Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome Lou Lamoriello in the builder category. Congratulations, Lou.
Lou Lamoriello: Thank you, Pat, and as all the others, certainly congratulations, Brian, Brett, Luc, and Stevie, and just a humbling day, and a complete surprise when I received the call from Bill earlier. But just a great class, and I’m just honoured to be a part of this great day, and certainly these great players. Bob Stellick, Moderator Great. Thanks very much, Lou. Joelle, we’ll now go to the Q&A, so will you explain to our friends in the media how they queue up to ask a question if they require one.
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION
Operator: Certainly, Mr. Stellick. We’ll now take questions from the telephone lines. If you have a question, and you’re using a speakerphone, please lift your handset before making your selection. If you have a question, please press star, one on your telephone keypad. If at any time that you wish to cancel your question, please press the pound sign. Please press star, one at this time if you have a question. There will be a brief pause while the participants register for questions. Thank you for your patience. Our first question is from John McGorty from NHL.com. Your line is now open. Please go ahead.
John McGourty, NHL.com: It’s been noted that three members of the 2002 Detroit Red Wings are going into the Hockey Hall of Fame from this class, but also noticing that the 1996 World Cup you have Brian Leetch, Hull, Yzerman, and Lou Lamoriello, and John Davidson, the Foster Hewitt winner also. Brian, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that amazing goal that tied the score at the end of, late in the third period; Hull deflecting your shot from the point? Brian Leech Well we had been kept in the game by Mike Richter for sure. He was doing all he could to give us an opportunity to stay in it, and we got in the lead and we were doing our best to put some pressure on, which wasn’t easy, and you know, but keep the puck in at the blue line and just take a quick shot, and Hully skated one direction and reached back the opposite way and was able to deflect it down, and (inaudible) down straight through Marty’s legs, and certainly that gave us some life to go from there.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Steve, do you remember your feeling when that happened?
Steve Yzerman: Yes. I think there was some question, Hully could, probably if he was on the call could confirm it, but I think that goal might’ve been high-sticked, wasn’t it? Yes, no, I remember it very well because I was on the bench, and I think, I don’t know, maybe five minutes left in the game, and it was Canadian flags waving, and it was really an awesome scene that changed very dramatically. And, yes, I remember it very well the, Hully’s deflection, and I think Cujo was still in the net at that time, I think, but…
John McGourty, NHL.com: Yes, you’re right. You’re right.
Steve Yzerman: But, nonetheless, it was an amazing turn of events because we played a, you know, we really feel we played a great hockey game, and Mike Richter was outstanding, and it was only a 2-1 game, despite us, I think, playing pretty well, and before we knew it it was 5-2.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Yes. Thank you very much.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Tony Care CBCSports.ca. Please go ahead.
Tony Care, CBCSports.ca: Hi. First of all, I want to congratulate all the honourees. It was well deserved. My question is for Steve. Steve, in particular, you’ve had obviously a great career, but I wanted to talk about the 2002 year. You lead, you help lead Canada to a gold medal, and you were, you obviously had the knee injury. First of all, talk about that particular time, and how were you able to endure the pain to help lead the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup that year?
Steve Yzerman: Well, you know, I, it just was a couple weeks before the Olympics, and my knee had been bugging me right from training camp, and it was getting to a point where I, we kind of had to make a decision on whether I was going to continue playing or not, and I had my knee scoped about two weeks before the Olympics, and got back on the ice and felt pretty good, but shortly after that it, and I really wasn’t aware at the time, but it was kind of the beginning of the end of, you know, my playing days in that I’d lost the joint space in my knee. And really once I got through the Olympics and got back to Detroit, I was hopeful that a couple of weeks of rest would take care of it, and every time I tried to resume skating, it got, just started to swell up and got sore again. So I really didn’t end up playing until the playoffs, and really all I did was play the games, and we just kind of took it one game at a time. And I didn’t practice much, and just kind of got my, got through the games. And I played on a line with Brendan Shanahan, and Sergei Fedorov for the most part, and really we were playing, somewhat playing the trap, and I just kind of was the high guy on, in that, and just kind of glided around forcing the play to one side or the other, and those guys did most of the work. So just kind of, you know, just kind of slugged it around out there a little bit. It didn’t, couldn’t move very well, but we managed to get through it. I really relied on my linemates a lot.
Tony Care, CBCSports.ca: And what about the, helping Canada erase like 50 years of frustration winning the gold medal. I mean how, what was your reaction even enduring the pain with your knee?
Steve Yzerman: Well I think during the tournament, I mean we were there in ’98 in Nagano, and we didn’t get a medal, but we really, I don’t think the players realized the impact, or the importance in Canada, really, until after we’d won the gold medal, and even going home at the end of the season and even now when I go back home in the summers, just, you know, it really is something that’s very important to Canadian hockey fans, and Canadians in general that, you know, we were able to win that gold medal. So it was pretty thrilling, but at the time, we were just in the midst of the tournament, and trying to figure out a way to win, and we were able to kind of get our game together as the tournament went on. But, you know, again, we weren’t really aware of the impact that it had on the country until we got home.
Tony Care, CBCSports.ca: Thanks, Steve, and congratulations.
Steve Yzerman: Thank you. Operator Thank you. The next question is from Bill Beacon from Canadian Press. Please go ahead.
Bill Beacon, Canadian Press: Yes, I’d just like to ask Steve, first of all, the quality of this year’s entrance (phon) of players; the four of you guys is, I mean every year it’s really good, but this year it just seems like an exceptional year. And do you think maybe the lockout year had, you know, something to do with the fact that all four of you guys ended at the same time in the same year? And also, as a second question, I know you’re waiting for it, but there’s reports all day that Mike Babcock will coach the Olympic team. Can you confirm that, or say anything on it?
Steve Yzerman: Well, you know, we’re going to announce the entire coaching staff on Thursday in Montreal; really haven’t talked to anybody about it. But again, I guess I would just leave it that we’ll announce the entire staff Thursday in Montreal. Sorry, I forgot the other part of your question.
Bill Beacon, Canadian Press: The other part was just, you know, just comment on the quality of this year’s inductees, and do you think the lockout had something to do with the fact that you guys all ended your careers at the same time?
Steve Yzerman: Well I think so. You know, I’m not sure to everyone, and, you know, if Brett were on he could answer, but Luc and Brian as well, when I’m done. You know, I think a lot of players going into the lockout at that stage we were at in our careers debated, you know, should I end it now, or come back and play, and I think, you know, for us, we all came back and played a year after it, but I think it kind of cemented, you know, in my mind, it really cemented it after coming back and playing, because that was my debate; quit at the, during the lockout, or try and come back and play. And once I did come back and play, you know, I realized that, you know, it’s time for me to move on.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Greg Eno from Out of Bounds. Please go ahead. Greg Eno, Out of Bounds Hi. Yes guys, thank you for taking the time to do this, and once again, congratulations. My question, I guess, is to Luc first. Luc, when you signed with the Red Wings in the summer of 2001, the team was coming off of a disappointing first round loss in the playoffs, and hadn’t won a Stanley Cup in a few years, and you personally had never won a Stanley Cup. So how’d you get (inaudible) that you signed with Detroit, and kind of talk about that year, and finally winning the cup, and maybe touch a little bit about, touch a little bit on Stevie’s leadership that year?
Luc Robitaille: Well the biggest thing for me, I think, the year before is we beat Detroit, so in a way that kind of, that helped me, I think, you know, when the decision came, and I was a free agent. I remember talking with my wife, and trying to figure out where we were going to go, and I remember she said who do you think has got the best shot of winning the cup, and I said Detroit. She said, well, why don’t we try to go there first. And I’ll never forget when my agent called Ken Holland (phon), and came back and said they were interested, so we didn’t really shop any other team. That was really the goal, was to go there, and we were able to get it done. And, you know, to go there the next year and to see the team that was put together, I mean it was a, it was a great amount of, a great, you know, good pressure, you know, where we were expected to win, but it was all of fun. And then coming in, I mean I don’t want to talk too much about Steve, because he’s on the line, you know, he might get cocky or something, but I think the biggest thing with, for me, having a guy like Stevie as a leader is the way he handled himself around us. You know, you got like a, literally 20 big egos coming in the room, and everybody had played a certain role on their team for years, and then to be able, for us, to all understand our roles, and to know that it was just one common goal is certainly something that, you know, I’ll take for the rest of my career and whatever else I do.
Greg Eno, Out of Bounds: I have a follow-up real quick if I could to Steve. That summer, going back to that summer of 2001, Steve, the team brought in Luc, and Brett, and Dominik Hasek. What did that mean to you as the captain? Did that put any pressure on the team in general, because of all the influx of talent that told you that this is, obviously management was making a serious commitment to win.
Steve Yzerman: Well, yes, we, you know, in Detroit, and knowing the ownership well and the management, our goal, and the position our team had been in, we’d been kind of hanging around the better clubs in the league, and more a contender, and in previous years we, you know, we won the cup in ’98, and then we kind of stumbled, were having trouble getting beyond the second round, and we knew the expectation from the owners was, you know, they wanted to win, and win the Stanley Cup. So going into ’02, we just played, I think Luc would agree, as a group. We played the game. We didn’t talk about the playoffs. We really didn’t think about it. It wasn’t an enjoyable year. We had pretty good success. I think we won the President’s Trophy, but there really wasn’t a lot of talk about the playoffs until they rolled around.
Operator: Thank you. Your next question is from Bob Duff from Windsor Star. Please go ahead.
Bob Duff, Windsor Star: Hey, this is for Steve and for Luc. It’s kind of along the same lines. I was doing a little research, and this is only the third time in the history of the Hall of Fame that three guys from the same Cup winner have gone in together. And I’m just wondering, obviously (inaudible) talk about that team, and at the time, you know, people talked was this the greatest assemblage of talent ever, and history would say it certainly was close. And to you guys, is that coming you look back on now maybe more than you did at that time because you were just the players playing the game then?
Luc Robitaille: Yes, I’ll, I don’t think we were looking at it that way. You know, looking back, and I do remember someone asking me at the time that they thought looking at it there was probably 10 to 11 potential Hall of Famers on the team, so it certainly was something, you know, very special, but at the time, I think the goal was really to win. Looking back today, it certainly was an amazing team.
Steve Yzerman: Yes, (inaudible) to add to it, you know, the group itself, and I look at, you know, the Oilers teams of the mid ‘80s when, I think you could argue they put a power play out there with, including the goaltender, six of the best players in the world. You know, when we had guys, we were all at different stages in our career, and it’s hard for us to, you know, to compare ourselves to any, even the Canadian teams of the ‘70s. But we had guys who had good careers that I don’t know that, you know, I would consider us in the class of, you know, from, you know, I would say that group of Oilers’ tames, and the groups of Canadians in the ‘70s, and even that Islander team that, you know, won four years in a row basically with the same group. We were a good collection, but at all different stages of our career.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Greg Rucinski from Yahoo Sports. Please go ahead.
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo Sports: I’d like to congratulate all the inductees this year. It’s a tremendous honour. I was wondering from the players on the line, if you could take a fifth inductee this year from the pool of players that were eligible for induction, if there was anybody in mind that you think was Hall worthy, or that you think was worthy of joining your class?
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Yes, I don’t know if that’s a really easy one for them to come up and answer here. Yes, that’s where the Selection Committee - maybe we can have Jim Gregory address just how it works.
Jim Gregory, Co-Chairman, Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee: I’d be happy to answer. And I can understand the players being in, certainly if you’re in the seat of Mr. Yzerman, or Mr. Leetch, or Mr. Robitaille right now, they’re so happy that they’ve been picked for this, to try to think of what player should’ve got in would be a hard question for them. Our Committee is made up of, as Mr. Hay pointed out, wealth of talent in the hockey business from every aspect who take their job so seriously. They make sure that they’re doing the right thing, and I believe that when the selections are finally done, for that particular year, you would have a hard time arguing with what went on.
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo Sports: Fair enough. Thanks, folks.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Nick Cote from RDS. Please go ahead.
Nick Cote, RDS: Hi. First of all I would like to congratulate all of the five inductees for this year. Just want to take a few seconds in French with Luc. (French Spoken)
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Gann Matsuda from Frozen Royalty. Please go ahead.
Gann Matsuda, Frozen Royalty: This question is for Luc. Luc, what does this mean to you, you know, spending all that time in a King’s uniform, and coming close in ’92 to winning the Cup and not quite getting there, what does it mean getting inducted to the Hall of Fame, and not being able to quite get there with the Kings?
Luc Robitaille: You know, I, personally, I mean the team you start with is always the team that basically you feel, you know, you belong to. You know, obviously when you play for another team you’re, at the time, you know, it’s all about the logo and the team you represent. I mean I’ve spent so much time here, and I ended up finishing my career here, so you know, and a lot of people have treated me very special in Los Angeles, so that will always be very, you know, something that I really can’t describe. Now in saying that, I had an amazing experience in Pittsburgh. With the Rangers, it was, you know, it was amazing, and then obviously winning the Cup in Detroit is something I will cherish forever. So I think, for me, I was, I just wanted to play in the NHL, you know, and I got lucky that I got to play for one franchise for a long time. But at the end of the day I wanted to play in the NHL, and today to have this happen, it’s something truly amazing. It’s hard for me to describe.
Gann Matsuda, Frozen Royalty: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Craig Custance from Sporting News. Please go ahead.
Craig Custance, Sporting News: Again, congratulations to everybody. This question is for Lou. I just wanted to get your thoughts on kind of, on Brian and Brett’s, what they mean to American hockey, and that, just that era in general, and about the three of you guys going in together.
Lou Lamoriello: Well there’s no question what they mean and have meant. I was with both Brian and Brett during the World Cup and the Olympics, and also was at Providence when Brian was at Boston College, and their careers exemplify, I think, where American hockey has come, and how far along it has come. And for them to be inducted today, and it’s an honour for me to be with them, assume (phon) their credit to American hockey and USA hockey in particular.
Craig Custance, Sporting News: And then, and Brian kind of the same question, just to be, to go on with these guys, and you know, what you think your impact on the sport here in the US was?
Brian Leetch: Well for sure I think where Brett and I are part of the group that were old enough to remember 1980, and to kind of be spurred on that, from a country standpoint about representing your, the United States, and using that as a goal as you got older. And the NHL was kind of second in my mind because I didn’t know anybody that played in the NHL, and it was hard for me to relate to players that I saw on TV, but I knew that there was a bunch of college kids that looked like they were having a good time, and were able to be successful, and I thought maybe I would have a chance to do that some day. So as it went, I was able to play in the NHL, and you know, and to be with Lou Lamoriello in this position, and he brought passion in the leadership role, and a determination to represent our country with pride, and expect to be successful and expect to do the right thing. And to see, my Dad played with Lou, or played against Lou when he was at Providence, and my Dad was at Boston College, and then I interviewed with (inaudible) Providence College to go there when Lou was the Athletic Director, and it his idea for, or he was one of the founding members of the Hockey East, which kind of solidified Eastern College hockey as a force by creating a league that wanted to compete with the teams in the west, makes you produce good student athletes, and players that could go play and impact the, in the NHL. So it’s great to be going in with him, and certainly Brett was our main gunner in all our US tournaments that we played with.
Craig Custance, Sporting News: I appreciate it. Thanks a lot guys.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Jeff Klein from the New York Times. Please go ahead.
Jeff Klein, New York Times: Yes, hi. Congratulations to all of you. I wanted to get back to something Lou mentioned early on that, and ask this of Lou and Brian, and really of everyone there. Lou, you mentioned that when, that you were really surprised when you received the call. I wonder if you can just describe like when and, when you received the call, just briefly, and just how it felt, and maybe pass that question along to the others as well?
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Why don’t we start with Brian then?
Brian Leetch: Okay. I was just in my car, and I’d been getting a lot of messages from friends and family asking if I had received a call yet, and I kept texting back, no, I haven’t, no I haven’t, so when I finally saw an area code from Toronto come up, I felt a little sigh of relief. And then when I was talking to Bill, I can’t remember much after that. Like I say, I pulled my car over and sat there, and took the call, and then just sat there for another 15 minutes afterwards because it was a pretty overwhelming thing. But certainly at first I felt a little relief, and then I can’t remember much after that.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Luc?
Luc Robitaille: I was, actually I was here in my office, and I did see the 416 area code, and I called back right away because it says please give us a call, and certainly, you know, I was, I figured if they were calling me, it wasn’t to give me bad news, so I was pretty excited.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Lou?
Lou Lamoriello: I was, I was on the phone in my office, and my, with the door closed, and the secretary knocked on the door and said that Bill Hay was on the phone, and I was so entrenched in the conversation I wasn’t thinking of anything other than I wonder what Bill was calling me for. And so once I got off the call I spoke to Bill, and it was a complete surprise. It was something that I had not been thinking of. I hadn’t got to any of the papers this morning to, you know, be thinking of the Hall of Fame Day, or the Selection Committees, so a humbling experience and just one that, as I said, felt extremely honoured in every way.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Steve?
Steve Yzerman: I was actually sitting in Jim Mills’ (phon) office down in Joe Louis Arena with Ryan Martin (phon), and we were just talking about how we were going to get our team under the salary cap this year, and I got a call on my cell phone, the (inaudible) and then another 416 number, so I assumed it was either a reporting calling to ask me who was coaching the Olympic team, or the call from the Hall of Fame. And I was pleasantly surprised that it was Bill calling from the Hall of Fame.
Jeff Klein, New York Times:All right, thanks guys.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Okay, thank you. Jaelle, let’s take our next question, please.
Operator: Yes. Our next question is from Ansar Khan from Booth Newspapers. Please go ahead.
Ansar Khan, Booth Newspapers: Yes, just a question for Steve. Steve, can you just talk a little about who had the biggest influence in your career?
Steve Yzerman: Well, you know, I don’t know that there’s any one individual, but I, you know, a lot of people really influenced my career, starting particular with my father, who got me into the game, and really sacrificed a lot of his time, and a lot of effort on his behalf as well as my mom to get me playing the game and enjoying the game, and instilled the work ethic. And, again, I think I played for six coached throughout my career, and every one of them had a real positive impact on me; notably, you know, Jacques Demers, Scotty Bowman, and Nick Polano, my first coach, really had a, he was the first one to give me an opportunity to play, and played me a lot as a young kid. And (inaudible) was the man who drafted me, and was a good confidante and a good friend throughout my career, and to this day remains somebody who’s always there to give me good sound advice and to kind of to guide me along in certain situations that I might’ve been uncomfortable or unfamiliar with. So, you know, and I could really go on about a lot of (inaudible). I’ve been in the league a long time, and I’ve been influenced by a lot of people, and very positively influenced. So, you know, those are just a few of the names, and without a doubt I know I’m forgetting a few.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Lance Hornby from Toronto Sun Newspaper. Please go ahead.
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun Newspaper: Hi, guys. I just want to ask each of you, if Bob Stellick wouldn’t mind refereeing, to talk about when you guys broke in it was very, very exciting offensively for a few years. It ground to a halt almost, and then after the lockout picked up again. At any time during your playing careers, in the middle there, was there a worry about the game and about the style, and that offensive hockey might be drying up?
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Why don’t we start with Brian?
Brian Leetch: Well, yes, I remember coming in to the Rangers, and I would say the offensive part of my game was the most natural, and the easiest for me, and I came into a team that needed a player like that at the time. And Michel Bergeron was my coach and he was very good at telling me to play that role, and to pick the puck up and to create chances and be on the power play, so I didn’t really have someone immediately put the locks down and try and teach me the defensive part of the game. They allowed me to play a game experience, make mistakes, and learn that way, and that was a big help for me. And as for way the game progressed, as I got older in my career, that’s, you didn’t really notice it, I think, during the time. I certainly appreciate the opinions that other players had in kind of bringing it to attention, because when you’re playing a lot of minutes, and you’re out there in different situations, I don’t think you really sometimes take a step back and look at where the game’s going, as much as, well certainly I didn’t maybe the way I could’ve, and I appreciate all the guys that did a lot to bring about some of those changes. And I think for the (inaudible), I loved watching here the playoffs this past year, and I think it’s only going to continue to get better.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Luc?
Luc Robitaille: Well I, you know, I think, you know, looking at, kind of the same track as Brian. I mean when I came in the league, you know, you just want, I wanted to play in the NHL, and you know, was fortunate that they put me on the same line with Marcel Dionne, and Marcel just basically said go to the net, kid, I’ll find you, so I just found a way to get to the net. But at the end of the day, as a league, I always felt that it was always about winning, you know. And I think for me the biggest difference as time went on was we start, there were always teams that were playing real tight, you know, the good teams and so forth, but the biggest difference was the goaltending got so much better so teams started, even though they were playing as tight as some teams before, it’s just like it took a lot more shots to score. That’s what I realized over time, and I always felt like, you know, good players find ways to make plays, and you know, we, you know, and it was time, as I got older in my career, you know, as my scoring slowed down, I just said I was a better defensive player, and that kind of, that went to everyone.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Steve? Mr. Yzerman, do you want to give a comment on that? We lost him. (Inaudible). Are you working on deals on the side there, Steve?
Steve Yzerman: Hello? Sorry, you guys got me?
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Lance, do you want to repeat the question for Steve?
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun Newspaper: Just the changes you’ve seen in the game, Steve? You started when it was a very offensive league. It ground to a halt almost for a couple years, and just the last year or so you played it came back. At any time were you fearful of where the game was headed?
Steve Yzerman: No, not at all. I think, I think coming, you know, before I guess I answer it, coming out of the lockout and the rule changes that were made, you know, to open up the game, I think, have been very positive, and I think watching this year’s Stanley Cup finals, despite the Red Wings losing in seven games, I thought it was excellent hockey. And I think since the lockout, since coming out of the lockout it was the best refereed hockey I’ve seen since the end of the, since the lockout under the new rules, and the new interpretation of the rules. But going back pre-lockout, into that era, the Detroit Red Wings, we won three Stanley Cups in that so called dead puck era, and we won, we were far from, I think we were an entertaining team; played a pretty good brand of hockey. I don’t think we ever had anybody in the top 10 in scoring all of those years, but we were a pretty good offensive club. And all of us individually, our personal stats were down, but we did win three times, and I think every one of us, and I know myself, we, you know, we wouldn’t trade, we wouldn’t trade any of those years, those winning years for, to win a scoring championship or score 50 goals. Not a chance. So I thoroughly enjoyed the era, but, you know, I fully recognize that scoring and playing more wide open hockey is more entertaining, but I think (inaudible) you got, you have to win, and good defensive teams win.
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun Newspaper: Thanks very much.
Bob Stellick, Moderator: Jaelle?
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Pierre LeBrun from ESPN.com.Please go ahead.
Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com: Well, Pierre LeBrun, it’s all good. Lou, my question’s for you given that you’re the name that we hadn’t really rumoured about going in today, probably because some of us though you were already in the Hall. I wondered what, how overwhelmed you were when you got the call, given that you were probably busy attending to other things?
Lou Lamoriello: Well, Pierre, as I said, it was a complete surprise; quite overwhelming because it was unexpected, and certainly not something on my mind. But to go into, you know, the Hall of Fame with this group of players, and most of them, you know, when I say most, two of them I had on the teams that, you know, we played as far as in the USA games, and then certainly playing against Stevie, and Luc for the years, and knowing them off the ice, and the tremendous asset they have been to the game in every way, it was just a humbling day. And as I said earlier, when Bill called me, and Jim, and Pat, it was just something that you never really think about, but when it comes, you just take a step back and feel, you know, extremely proud of all the people that you’ve been fortunate to be associated with, because whenever you get something like this, it’s because of the people you’ve been with.
Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com: Terrific, Lou. Thank you. And if I could have a follow-up for Brian Leetch? Brian, I wondered about your thoughts of following in the footsteps in the last couple of years of Mark Messier, and then Randy (phon) as well, of the ’94 Rangers team all you guys reconvening in the Hall of Fame?
Brian Leetch: Well, yes, I mean I think if, you know, you broke my career down, the two most influential people before I got to the NHL it was certainly my Dad, and then when I was in the NHL it was Mark. And you know, we made the right trade in ’94 there for Randy, and he’s still living in the New York area, so even when he was done playing in the NHL I saw him around all the time, so I was extremely happy for him last year when he got in, and you know, it’s great to be going into the Hall of Fame, and certainly joining those guys.
Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com: Great. Thanks, guys.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from John McGourty from NHL.com.
John McGourty, NHL.com: This question is for Lou Lamoriello. Lou, by 1994 you had built a strong New Jersey Devils team, and then probably the best remembered semi-final ever lost to the Rangers, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. Brian won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year, and I’d like you to comment on Brian’s play in 1994 when he earned that trophy?
Lou Lamoriello: I wish I couldn’t comment the way I will because of how instrumental Brian was. But it was no surprise, Brian had a tremendous season that year, and he was the catalyst for that Ranger team. And we all know what Brian has brought to the game, and continues to bring to the game with his presence on and off the ice. His play was just extremely exceptional, and we could not contain him, and you know, that series was a great series, and not surprising that the Rangers went on to win.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Mike Morreale from NHL.com
Mike Morreale, NHL.com: Thank you, and I’d also like to congratulate the inductees. I have a question of perseverance here for both Luc and Steve. Luc, first of all, what was your initial reaction after being drafted ninth in ’84? Did you use that as any motivation for yourself?
Luc Robitaille: Well the motivation was I wanted to play in the NHL. So I do remember thinking that my name was on the list, someone was going to have to give me a chance or watch me one time, and I remember thinking at the time I want to make sure I’m ready for that, you know, and all I cared is that I was on the list, and from then on it was up to me.
Mike Morreale, NHL.com: And, Steve, can you talk about the challenges that you faced when Scotty Bowman was named coach initially, and I know there were talks there, there were trade rumours, I mean how were you able to fight through that?
Steve Yzerman: Well I look back on it and it turned out to be a good experience for me. It was a learning experience. It made me, you know, stronger, (inaudible) stronger and better, you know, I was able to deal with some adversity and come out of it and be a better player, which helped me when you get into situations in the semi-finals and finals when things aren’t going your way, and you’re, I think you’re a stronger person because of it. But, you know, looking back on it, you know, two, sort of ’93 up until we finally won the Cup in ’97, we had very good teams, and good regular seasons, and then we lost in the first round two years in a row and then got to the finals, and got swept by the Devils in ’95, and then lost in the semi-finals to Colorado in ’96, and around that time the Red Wings were trying to get over the hump, and they looked at every different direction, and every different possibility of making changes to get a, to win a Stanley Cup. So, you know, I wasn’t, I certainly wasn’t caught totally by surprise at that potentially I could be moved, or any of us could be moved, because every year we’d drive home after that last game thinking, okay, you know, we failed again; they’re going to come up with something, they have to do something, so we were all on pins and needles. But looking back on it, all the experiences, you know, you go through them and you survive them and you’re better because of it.
Mike Morreale, NHL.com: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Andrew Gross from The Bergen Record. Please go ahead.
Andrew Gross, The Bergen Record: Hi, congratulations to everyone, and particularly Brian. How you doing? You know, great day for you. Just wanted to ask, you know, I think we’ve been all writing that you’ve, you’re going to be a future Hall of Famer, you know, probably for the last 10 years, if not more. I was wondering when you started thinking about it, or if you ever allowed yourself to think about what it might be like? And then if I could also ask you, you know, you’ve done so many great things, won the Cup, won the Conn Smythe, you had your number retired last year, is there any way to put that in any kind of numerical order?
Brian Leetch: Certainly no way to put them in order because whatever you’re going through at the time it feels to me to be, you know, the most, you know, overwhelming, or humbling, and certainly that holds true for today. I think that when you go through things in the present tense they’re always a little bit stronger than when you look back on them. But yes, I feel a little relieved for all the people that were saying future Hall of Famer. I was always thinking in the back of my head, I said, well, are they’re going to be angry at me or they’re going to feel real stupid themselves for saying those things, so I’m glad to get that out of the way, and be someone that is going into the Hall of Fame.
Andrew Gross, The Bergen Record: All right. Congratulations, Brian.
Brian Leetch: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Jane McManus from Journal News. Please go ahead.
Jane McManus, Journal News: Hi Brian. I just wanted to, you know, see how, if you’ve had some thoughts on the way that Ranger team kind of fits into the city now, and what your making the Hall of Fame kind of means in that context?
Brian Leetch: Well, you know, it was, it’d been 54 years since the Rangers had won a championship, and there’s a very diehard group of fans that pass down their allegiance to their kids, and through their families, so there was a large group of fans that didn’t believe that the Rangers were going to ever reach that point, and that the frustration levels was part of being a fan and dealing with that was part of being someone that followed the Rangers all the time. So to be on the team that was able to accomplish that, I think there was a lot of people that just sat back and enjoyed it, and were appreciative to the management and to the players that were on the team at the time. And, you know, and like the Wings when Steve was there, or certainly the Devils when Lou was there, as I was there, (inaudible) our one shot at it. We never got back to the finals; never won another Cup with that group, and you know, the Rangers are still trying to get back to that point. So it’s a single season that sticks out in a lot of people’s minds here in the New York area.
Jane McManus, Journal News: Thanks so much.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Bill Beacon from Canadian Press.
Bill Beacon, Canadian Press: That’s fine, thanks. I just had my question asked.
Operator: Thank you. Your next question is from Jim Matheson from the Edmonton Journal. Please go ahead.
Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal: Congratulations to all the guys. I just want to ask Luc, Luc when you were drafted they said you were a bad skater. Do you take pride in the fact that your bad skater lasted about 20 years in the league and scored as many goals as you did? And you were drafted 171st and Brett Hull was drafted 117th, does that kind of prove that, you know, sometimes the scouts don’t get it right?
Luc Robitaille: Oh yes, I mean they got it right, they drafted me. I think the biggest thing is I refused to listen to that. I mean I, I just played the game, you know. I was trying to improve every day, and I was trying to be better, you know, every day, and I was always trying to help the team win, so, you know, maybe sometimes it didn’t look good out there, or it didn’t look fast, but I knew like I, you know, know matter what, I was always trying to give my best, and that’s the reason I played so long. And, you know, on the lighter side, the good thing about me is I never had a step (phon) so I never lost it, so that’s why maybe I was able to play 19 years.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Rod Smith from TSN. Please go ahead.
Rod Smith, TSN: Hi. I wanted to touch upon something talked about earlier about the calibre going in this year, and make a little comparison to two years ago, because in ’07 it was Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis at the time considered, you know, the greatest, among players anyway, the greatest induction class ever for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Modesty aside, Luc, if I could ask you to make a comparison there, this is a pretty good class in ’09 to how this group stacks up to that one?
Luc Robitaille: Well I mean I don’t know, you know, who stacks what, but certainly that was an impressive group then, and certainly it is a great group this year. I mean just numbers wise, it’s amazing, but you know, those guys were players that I looked up to, and I know the impact they had on their teams and the, certainly to even be mentioned along the lines of that group is very special, I think, for any one of us.
Rod Smith, TSN: And if I could ask the same question a non-player, to Lou Lamoriello, just remembering that class in ’07 and this one as well and a comparison?
Lou Lamoriello: Well they’re very, very difficult to compare because the greatness in both classes you could go top to bottom, and I wouldn’t even want to compare them because they’re all exceptional.
Rod Smith, TSN: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from John McGourty from NHL.com.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Steve and perhaps Brian too, thinking about Brett Hull here, and Brian mentioned earlier that Brett was skating one way and reached back another to deflect that shot. Steve, you were there when he deflected the shot at the end of game three in the 2002 Stanley Cup against Carolina that put the game into overtime. We think about Brett Hull’s great shooting; the one-timers and the wrist shots and all, but talk about the hand-eye coordination. He’s one of the best shot deflectors of all time.
Steve Yzerman: Yes, yes, he’ll tell you. I think, you know, he’s an excellent athlete. You know, he’s a fantastic golfer, but just a good all around athlete, and a very good all around player. And you know, everybody knows his ability to one-time a puck and using that curve and a very flexible stick, and his wrist shot was outstanding, as good as there ever has been, but he did have outstanding, really good hand-eye coordination, and you know, that wasn’t, those plays weren’t lucky. He did that a lot. You know, and getting to play with him in Detroit that year, and actually we killed penalties together the entire year, he was a very good all around hockey player, and a lot of the parts of his game aren’t appreciated as much because he really was, you know, kind of known as a shooter.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Thank you. Brian, yourself, you saw much of that?
Brian Leetch: Well I thought the biggest thing I noticed with playing with the US teams with him, and going to practice every day with him in those situations is what a great passer he was, and his vision in the game. And I think a lot of us, every time we gave it to him expected him to shoot it, and to let one go, and there was a lot of times in the first week or so of practice the puck would be coming back, or he’d be putting it over someone’s stick, or between someone’s legs right onto someone’s stick, and he’d be like you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to be ready, and he has a funny way of letting you know. But, you know, everyone assumes, and that was his strength was to score goals, and we needed him to score goals, but I think we were all impressed with his ability to see the game and to put the pucks in areas for us to be successful. So once the game started it was pretty much like you were ready at all times. But, yes, his strength was to score goals and get around that net and to create the chances, and that’s what we needed him to do, and that’s what he did.
John McGourty, NHL.com: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Lance Hornby from Toronto Sun Newspaper. Please go ahead.
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun Newspaper: Again, all you guys scored a lot of goals in your careers, and Brett was the guy who was known to score a lot but not to celebrate. I’m just curious if any of you want to jump in, were you surprised that he didn’t celebrate goals as much as maybe some other people did? He seemed to be all business on the ice.
Steve Yzerman: Well, Lance, it’s Steve. I would just say, I mean Brett, he took pride in scoring goals. I mean he enjoyed it. He didn’t, you know, you saw the excitement when he got the Cup winner in Buffalo, and obviously that’s the extreme, but I think he took pride in it. But even what I did notice playing with him the one season, and you know, Brian touched on it too, was that he took pride, and he would never admit that to anybody, but he took pride in being an all around player and a complete player, and he wanted to kill penalties, he wanted to be on the ice in the last minute of the game, and I, you know, I enjoyed that about him, and, in that, you know, I mean he did, scoring was important to him, but like I said, I don’t think people realize that it was very important to him to be, maybe not recognized by the outside world but by his coach, that he was a complete hockey player.
Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun Newspaper: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question is from Bob Wojnowski from Detroit News. Please go ahead.
Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: Yes, Steve, I’m just curious of all the awards that have piled up for you over the years, you are still a bit of a rarity in that you’ve always been with the same team that drafted you; you’re still with the same team. How much has that meant over the year to always be with one team?
Steve Yzerman: Well, I really enjoyed it. Obviously, it’s important. It became my home, and you know, I think every player when they’re drafted envisions their entire career with that organization, and I really got lucky, and I was (inaudible) a couple of different eras, and the team was successful. And, you know, initially I was the young guy that was part of the rebuilding process, and then I was part of the group that was, we were going to compete for a Stanley Cup, and fortunately we eventually did win that Stanley Cup and I was able to remain a part of a group that was, you know, Stanley Cup contenders for a number of years, and then towards the end of my career I was able to fit into a group of, you know, the veteran guys that were somewhat, you know, kind of keeping, or you know, teaching the younger players and biding time until they were ready to go. And so I was very lucky, and I think a lot of times it was just being in the right place at the right time. But it was important to me, and I, you know, and it’s been, you know, I’ve been very proud to be a part of this organization my entire career, and we have a strong following, and a strong history, so I’ve been very fortunate.
Operator: Thank you. There are no further questions registered at this time. I would now like to turn the meeting back over to Mr. Bob Stellick.
Bob Stellick: Thank you very much, Jaelle. We appreciate it you taking the time with us. Now (inaudible) on the call, Brett Hull, he’ll be landing in Montreal at around 7 p.m. tonight, and he asked me to share his cell phone number with you, so those of you who have a pen, [deleted]. Again, I’d like to thank or congratulate our Hall of Fame inductees, and thank everyone for participating on the call today. Have a great day. Operator Thank you. The conference is now ended. Please disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.