Steve Yzerman's greatest accomplishment in captaining the Detroit Red Wings to the 2002 Stanley Cup might have been managing all the egos on that star-studded roster.
The talent of that team was never more evident than Tuesday, when three members were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille will be inducted alongside Brian Leetch and New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello on Nov. 9.
"I think the biggest thing for me of having a guy like Stevie as a leader was the way he handled stuff around us," Robitaille said on a conference call. "We've got literally 20 big egos in the room. Everybody played a role on their teams for years, and they had to understand their roles and the common goal. I take that into the rest of my career and whatever else I do."
The maximum of four players was elected this year. Lamoriello was chosen in the builder category. All four players were eligible for the first time.
Yzerman ranks sixth all-time in points with 1,755. He played 22 seasons with Detroit and was the longest-serving captain in league history, holding the title from 1986-2006.
He won three Stanley Cups and a gold medal with Canada in the 2002 Olympics.
"Even now when I go back home in the summers, it's really something that's really important to Canadian hockey fans and Canadians in general that we were able to win that medal," Yzerman said.
Hull's 741 goals trail only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, and his 24 career playoff game-winning goals are tied with Gretzky for the most in NHL history. He scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Dallas Stars in the third overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 finals.
He played 19 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Stars, Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes. Hull received the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1991.
His father, Bobby, is already in the Hall.
"It is hard to put into words what this means to me, especially since I'm joining my father in the Hockey Hall of Fame," Hull, who was traveling for his job in the Stars' front office during the announcement, said in a statement.
Hull, Leetch and Lamoriello have a history together, too. Leetch and Hull played on the gold medal-winning 1996 U.S. World Cup team for which Lamoriello was the general manager.
"For sure, Brett and I were part of a group that were old enough to remember 1980 and to be spurred on by that from a country standpoint," Leetch said.
Leetch became the first American-born player to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy after leading the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994. He also twice won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.
He was driving Tuesday, receiving text messages from friends and family asking if he'd heard anything, when he saw a Toronto area code on an incoming call. Leetch's first reaction was relief. He pulled his car over to the side of the road and had to sit there for 15 minutes, letting the news sink in.
Robitaille played 19 seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers and Red Wings. His 668 goals and 1,394 points are the most by a left wing. He received the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 1987.
Lamoriello has served as the Devils' president since 1987 and has taken over twice as the team's coach, in 2005-06 and 2007. New Jersey has won the Stanley Cup three times under his leadership. He said he was stunned to receive a call from the Hall on Tuesday.
A player must be retired for three seasons before becoming eligible to enter the Hall. At least 14 of the Hall's 18-member selection committee must vote for a player for him to be elected.