TORONTO -- Rogie Vachon started his speech at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony by talking about his time as a 14-year-old goalie playing outdoors in Palmarolle, Quebec, for the town's senior team.
"They couldn't find a goalie crazy enough to play outdoors at 10 below zero," Vachon said. "One day Coach Larouche came in the house on the farm and tried to convince my mother and father to let me play for them, which they did. Thank you mom and dad and Coach Larouche. If not for that event I would not be here tonight."
Vachon got to the Hall of Fame, in the same class as Eric Lindros, Sergei Makarov and the late Pat Quinn, by winning 355 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in a 16-year career. He won the Stanley Cup three times with the Canadiens and was the best goalie and MVP playing for Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup.
He later worked for the Kings for 20 years in multiple roles including goalie coach, general manager, interim coach, assistant to the chairman, assistant to the president and ambassador.
"What a classy operation they have," Vachon said. "Thank you so much Kings."
Throughout his run, the same woman was by Vachon's side. She no longer is.
Vachon's wife of 44 years, Nicole, passed away from brain cancer in February. The new Hall of Famer couldn't end his speech without a tribute to her and a message for her.
"This is going to be tough," he said, trying to hold in his tears. "I cannot finish without honoring a very special woman, somebody who is very dearly missing. I just lost my wife Nicole. I wish she could be here. Sometimes it's not fair. She should be here. It's not going to happen. What a wonderful woman. We spent 45 years together. Yeah, it's tough. I wish you would be here.
"I love you gal. I'll see you on the other side."
From Eric, for hockey
Lindros mentioned early in his speech what a privilege it was to play in the NHL and for Canada on the international level, thanking teammates and fans, but his message was more a testament to his love of hockey than anything else.
"Fun is what hockey is all about," Lindros said.
He mentioned how much he loved and still loves the backyard rinks, extra practices and the feeling of improving. He still plays twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, and said his love of hockey and the friendships it has given him are as strong as ever.
Video: NHL Tonight: The Dominance of Eric Lindros
"No other sport brings friends together like hockey does," he said.
There were stories, like the first time he met fellow Hall of Famer Borje Salming at a rink in Toronto or when he came to the defense of linemate Mikael Renberg to fight Marty McSorley, but more than anything his speech was a passionate gesture toward his love of the game.
At the end, Lindros brought his brother, Brett, who played two years with the New York Islanders, on stage with him. He held his arm around him.
"Brett played on the Island and we always had a dream of playing together but it didn't come true," Eric said. "I'd like to close this chapter of my life with you beside me. I'm enormously proud of this honor. With respect and heartfelt gratitude to you, thank you."
Makarov humbled, honored, thankful
Makarov gave credit to his older brothers, Yuri and Nikolai, for teaching him hockey and getting him to fall in love with the sport after he started playing as a 4-year-old living in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Makarov said Nikolai was his first coach.
"He taught me about this wonderful sport," Makarov said. "He worked hard to pass to me everything he knew."
Video: Breaking down the legacy of Sergei Makarov
At 20 years old, Makarov was shocked to find himself on the same CSKA Moscow team as Valeri Kharlamov, Vladimir Petrov, Boris Mikhailov, Vladislav Tretiak, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Krutov and Alexei Kasatonov. They'd soon be joined by Igor Larionov, who with Krutov and Makarov formed the famed "KLM Line."
"If someone told me I'd be part of the line I would never have believed it," Makarov said.
Makarov later talked about how difficult it was for him to transition to the NHL when he went to play for the Calgary Flames as a 31-year-old in 1989.
He won the Calder Trophy.
"It would have been impossible without the help of Calgary Flames general manager Cliff Fletcher, who did everything to make things easier for my family so I could focus on my work," Makarov said. "I'm still grateful to Cliff."
Makarov joked that if he had to thank everybody who helped him the event would have gone on until Tuesday morning.
"So it's so simple," he said, "thank you all."
A tribute to her father
Kalli Quinn, Pat Quinn's daughter, delivered a speech on behalf of her father, who was inducted into the builders' category. She struggled to hold it together, fighting back tears as her mother and Pat's widow, Sandra, cried in the front row.
"For those of you that know my father you would know that he'd be taken aback by this recognition and believe it or not he'd be at a loss for words," Kalli said.
She credited former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Keith Allen and Hall of Fame forward Bobby Clarke for convincing her father to work with the Flyers as an assistant coach in 1977 under Fred Shero.
Video: Kallie Quinn reminisces on father's coaching career
"That was the launching pad for his memorable career," Kalli said.
She talked about his time with the Vancouver Canucks, as coach and general manager, and his opportunity to win the gold medal as Canada's coach at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.
"A stage he never thought would be possible," she said.
Beyond the NHL, Kalli talked about her father as a forward thinker who started hockey schools in Atlanta when he played there in the mid-70s, for bringing in fitness programs as an NHL coach, for helping to forge the NHL's international endeavors, for bringing in technology to scouting and for giving back in the community, honoring the history and alumni in the game.
She talked about her father's love of the fans, for communicating with them, and joked that despite living six blocks away he had to drive to the rink in Toronto when he coached the Maple Leafs because he would be late to practice if he walked.
"The fact is he wanted everyone to love this game as much as he did," she said. "All he ever wanted was to help those in the game be better, including him.
"He loved this life and the game second to his family. Thank you again for bestowing this honor on him. I'm sure he's looking down with a cigar in his hand and a drink in the other with that wonderful twinkle in his eye."