Granato, James ready to make history at Hall of Fame
TORONTO -- Hockey Hall of Fame weekend is already in full throttle, and Monday night history will officially be made when Cammi Granato and Angela James become the first women to be inducted.
"It's something that I never ever thought was attainable," Granato told NHL.com. "For me, the Hockey Hall of Fame is somewhere where legends go, where your idols go. My heart starts to beat faster when I think about it. I can't believe that it's even possible that I'm going to be inducted."
It became possible because the committee members that vote on which legends get to join the exclusive Hall of Fame fraternity made it to be a co-ed club this year, thereby turning this weekend here in Toronto into a huge celebration of women in hockey.
But, that's only part of the show.
HALL OF FAME
Hall induction caps Granato's career
By Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer
Raised in a hockey family, Cammi Granato helped pioneer the sport of women's hockey in the U.S. and will join Canadian star Angela James as the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.READ MORE ›
Let's not forget that Monday night Dino Ciccarelli, he of the 608 goals and 1,200 career points, will also be inducted after waiting for eight years to give a speech he has no doubt practiced in his head time and time again.
Ciccarelli has been on the ballot since 2002. He never gave up hope that this day was coming.
"It was out of my control, but obviously every year that the vote comes into play the attention gets drawn to it and the media started calling," Ciccarelli told NHL.com. "All you can do is dream about it, think about it. It came this year, so I'm very honored."
Veteran Red Wings executive Jim Devellano is heading into the Hall in the builder's category along with former Calgary businessman, philanthropist and, perhaps first and foremost, cowboy, Daryl "Doc" Seaman.
Devellano has won the Stanley Cup seven times in his career, including three times as one of the key architects of the New York Islanders dynasty and four times while working with the Red Wings as both a general manager and vice president.
"When you get into this game in a management position -- for me, it's (been) 44 years -- it's kind of like the pinnacle," Devellano told NHL.com of his induction into the Hall. "There's a couple of things you'd like to accomplish if you're in my position long enough -- one is to win a Stanley Cup, and the other probably would be to cap your time in the game as a builder in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But you have to be voted in. It's not the easiest thing to accomplish. You're thankful when it happens, for sure."
Seaman, who passed away last year at the age of 86, is known throughout Western Canada as an oil tycoon who was always willing to share his own money for the betterment of his community. He was a key driving force behind bringing the Flames and the 1988 Winter Olympics to Calgary.
His millions in donations have also helped foster a minor development program for Canadian youth hockey players and Canada's recent run of five straight World Juniors gold medal victories is rooted in the Seaman-Hotchkiss Foundation.
Cammi Granato (Getty Images)
"I think through everything he's done in his lifetime (this Hall of Fame induction) would have been the pinnacle of his achievements," Doc's son, Bob Seaman, told NHL.com. "He loved the game so much and he just would have been ecstatic."
The inductees, including Bob Seaman, who will be speaking on behalf of his father Monday night at the induction ceremony, have been in the city since Friday and they've been celebrated with every step they've taken.
They've been honored in a pre-game ceremony prior to the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Air Canada Centre, conducted a Fan Forum at the Hall on Sunday and followed that up with another ceremony at the Legends Game at the ACC where the inductees received their honored member blazers.
Monday morning Granato, James, Ciccarelli and Devellano will meet the media in the Great Hall, where their plaques will hang with those of Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Jacques Plante and so many other greats. Bob Seaman is expected to represent his father.
"I would never have thought that women's hockey would be in that class," James told NHL.com. "It's going to be great for hockey, it's going to be great for women's hockey and it's going to be great for women in sports. It's nothing that I expected ever to happen."
The Hall also used this weekend, always its biggest of the year, as an opportunity to open the new Spirit of Hockey retail store on the corner of Front and Yonge Streets as well as 6,000 square-foot World of Hockey Zone, which is the Hall's largest dedicated exhibit area.
Exhibits inside the World of Hockey Zone include those honoring those from the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, Triple Gold Club and the top 100 moments in international hockey. The Olympic puck that Sidney Crosby put into the back of the United States' net to win the Olympic gold medal is on display.