TORONTO (November 10, 2008)
-- The grizzly, unshaven look Glenn Anderson was sporting Monday morning -- a Hall of Fame beard, if you will -- was going to be gone by the evening, when the ultimate clutch performer was hoping he would find a way to deliver again.
Anderson, speaking inside the MCI Great Hall, wasn't too sure about his chances.
|Glenn Anderson laughs at a question after being presented with his hall ring at a ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday Nov. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn) |
"When it's over it'll hit me and I'll absorb it, but when I'm up on stage, I'm a little concerned how that's going to go," Anderson said. "When you play a game, you do it every day. As far as getting up and getting this done, it never happens. Perfect practice makes perfect, but as far as practicing this, it just doesn't happen so I don't know how it's going to turn out."
No matter what happens on stage, Anderson's Hall of Fame experience has gone exactly as it should. Since finding out June 17 that his stellar career finally had been validated by the Hall's 18-member selection committee, Anderson has been in reflection mode.
This weekend, he has taken it to a whole different level.
"You can reflect, but with all my teammates coming in, they just start rehashing stories and you're like, 'Oh, I remember that,' " Anderson said. "They trigger something back so it's pretty cool to have something like that happen."
Anderson said Monday morning he was expecting a slew of former teammates, mostly from his Edmonton years, at the Hall for the evening's ceremony.
Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Craig Simpson already were here for the Sunday's Legends Game at the Air Canada Centre. Anderson said Kevin Lowe, Jeff Beukeboom, Adam Graves and Glen Sather either were on their way or had already arrived.
More of them may drop in to surprise him, though ironically 1 of 2 games tonight in the NHL is being played between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, the teams Anderson won Stanley Cups with.
Craig MacTavish, a former teammate who won the Stanley Cup 4 times with Anderson, can't be here because he's coaching the Oilers.
"It's emotional," Coffey told NHL.com. "I know how long he's waited. For me, I get a flood of memories coming back to me about the Oilers. Obviously I'm proud to be an Edmonton Oiler and I'm proud of that organization. I know they are real proud of Glenn going in. He's a special guy. I never got a chance to see Rocket Richard play, but I think from the blue line in there was nobody better coming from that off wing."
Added Messier: "We grew up together. We lived together. We roomed together. We played together on the same line for years and years and years. We won 6 Stanley Cups together. He was obviously a huge part of my career and I owe him a lot of debt and gratitude for what he meant to me. For the moment to come now, to get recognized the way he should, is satisfying for all of us. Glenn was all about being a winner."
Anderson won 6 Stanley Cups and scored 93 playoff goals, which is fifth all-time. He potted 5 playoff overtime winners, which is third all-time. His 214 playoff points are fourth all-time. He finished his career with 498 goals and 1,099 points in 1,129 regular-season NHL games.
Today, many people around the hockey world, especially his former teammates, are saying, "It's about time" Anderson got into the Hall of Fame. But Anderson, who retired from the NHL after the 1995-96 season (he played one more season in Europe) never wondered why it took 9 years since he became eligible to finally get recognized.
"No, because there are so many other great players out there," Anderson said. "My teammates know, but maybe not everyone else knows. It was all about the team and how good your team was, so I never thought about the individual. I was always thinking team. Maybe our team should be in here before an individual."
Though the Hall never has honored an entire team before, those 1980s Oilers are getting close.
Anderson is the seventh member of the dynastic team to get his plaque inside the Great Hall, joining Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Coffey, Messier and Sather, the coach and architect of the squad.
All 6 legends that preceded Anderson conquered their induction speeches -- though Messier did need nearly 20 minutes and a box of Kleenex to get through his -- but that was of no consolation to Anderson on Monday morning.
He had the portrayal of a calm and secure veteran, but his nerves may have been hidden by the beard that was supposed to be shaved before 5 p.m.
"You've got a limited amount of time for a lifetime of achievements and people to thank," Anderson said. "It's very, very difficult. Plus, it's going to be so emotional. How do you get through it? I'm worried."Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.