Longtime Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder Monday. Jacobs, the Bruins owner since 1975, has been chairman of the NHL Board of Governors since 2007.
Jacobs oversaw the Bruins' return to the heights of the NHL when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 by defeating the Vancouver Canucks, becoming champions for the first time since 1972.
But he didn't take anything for granted on Monday when the Hall of Fame calls went out. He wasn't even sure that Monday was the day.
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"This was a total surprise," Jacobs said. "I'm humbled and very appreciative."
Under Jacobs, 77, the Bruins have been a consistent presence in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From 1967-68 through 1995-96, The Bruins made the playoffs 29 straight seasons from 1967-68 to 1995-96, with Jacobs serving as the owner for 21 of those seasons. In his 41 seasons of ownership, the Bruins have made the playoffs 34 times.
But his association with the Bruins wasn't the first time that hockey had touched his life. Hockey had been there from the beginning, part of a legacy that now includes the sport's ultimate honor: the Hall of Fame.
"It was something that I truly enjoyed more than anything I can say because it's a recognition with a class of people that I've known throughout my life," Jacobs said. "My family was involved in hockey from the day I was born, when they owned the old Buffalo Bisons [of the American Hockey League], many, many years ago, in the minor leagues.
"It's been part of my life, and this type of recognition was unexpected, but very, very much appreciated."
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Asked about his legacy, Jacobs cited his length of ownership and his leadership within the NHL, both reasons that helped him earn this honor and others, including the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2015 for service to hockey in the United States.
Plus, there's the success. In addition to the Stanley Cup in 2011, the Bruins have won four conference titles, 15 division championships and the Presidents' Trophy twice during his tenure.
"As a player I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins," Boston president Cam Neely said in a statement. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources we need to compete for Stanley Cup championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."
Jacobs was singled out for praise by one of his fellow electees, Dave Andreychuk, who played for the Bruins late in his career, in 1999-2000.
"To Mr. Jacobs, we spent a brief time together," Andreychuk said in a conference call Monday. "The contributions that you've made to the NHL go noticed here today are well-deserved."
He wasn't alone in saying so.
"It is certainly deserved," former Bruins executive and coach Harry Sinden, a member of the Hall of Fame as a builder, said in a statement. "A very well-deserved honor to one of the finest Governors and owners in the National Hockey League."