IIHF honours legends
IIHF honours legends
Class of 2016 inducted
Hosted by TSN’s Gord Miller, the Hall of Fame, the ceremony honoured international hockey’s legendary contributors on the ice, behind the bench and in the broadcast booth.
The latest class of International Ice Hockey Federation inductees in the Players category included Peter Bondra, Sergei Fyodorov, Valeri Kamenski, and Ville Peltonen. Gabor Ocskay was presented with the Richard “Bibi” Torriani Award. Pat Quinn and Ben Smith were honoured in the Builders category and Nikolai Ozerov given the Paul Loicq Award.
Ocskay, Quinn and Ozerov were inducted posthumously.
The signed, special Hall of Fame jerseys of the inductees will be put on auction for a good cause next week, more will be announced on IIHF.com later.
The program began with Nikolai Ozerov being given the Paul Loicq award. Ozerov was a tennis champion, actor and the voice of the Russian nation. With a broadcast career that began in 1950, Ozerov covered some 30 World Championships and all Super Series in the seventies and eighties.
“With his voice he became every much as popular as the players he talked in all those games he covered, including Kharlamov and Tretiak,” Journalist Sergei Gusev said in talking about Ozerov.
The first member of the class of 2016 honoured was Valeri Kamenski. A member of the elite Triple Gold Club, Kamenski was grateful for the honour.
“I thought it would be easier [to give a speech]. But when they called my name, when they said a few words about me, I was overwhelmed by a lot of emotion,” Kamenski said later. “Suddenly I got nervous - it's easier to go out on the ice than to say a few words in front of a crowd of people.”
Current Finnish assistant coach Ville Peltonen was inducted but was with his team at their morning practice. His wife Hanna gratefully accepted the award before her husband made it to the induction room later. Peltonen represented Finland 19 times and won 13 medals, an unprecedented number among Finnish players.
Pat Quinn left a great hockey legacy and reputation in the NHL and internationally. Miller remarked what the Great One thought of Quinn.
“Wayne Gretzky said of Pat Quinn, ‘Of all the people I’ve known in the game of hockey, I never met anyone who worked at it harder or loved it more than Pat Quinn.’”
His daughter Kalli delivered a moving tribute to her father.
“My father always said they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. He cared but he also wanted to know as much as he could about the game of hockey.”
Another coach joining Quinn in the IIHF Hall of Fame was Ben Smith who led Team USA women to Olympic gold in 1998 and a Women’s World Championship in 2005.
“Someone once told me that the key to being a good coach is getting off the bus with the best players,” Smith said. “I took that early advice.”
Peter Bondra is a legend in Slovakia not only for his outstanding NHL career but scoring the biggest goal in the country’s international history. With 100 seconds remaining in the 2002 World Championship gold medal game between Slovakia and Russia, Bondra scored to lift his team to a 4-3 win and its first gold medal.
“I’d like to than Slovakian hockey. I was always proud to play for my country, Olympics or World Championships. My dream was to always play for the national team and score the game-winning goal for a gold medal. My dream came true.”
Another moving tribute came when Gabor Ocskay’s sister, Zsuzsanna, spoke of the influence her brother still has in Hungary. Ocskay made his debut for Hungary as a 17-year-old and represented the team 16 times. He helped elevate the team to the top division of the World Championship in 2008. Sadly, a few weeks before he could get the chance to play in the 2009 tournament in Switzerland – the country’s first top-division appearance in 70 years – he died of a heart attack.
“The family and the whole Hungarian community, which is like family, have never forgotten him,” she said. “The rink in his hometown of Szekesfehervar bears his name since 2009 and the ice hockey academy is named after him. Some of the players who trained there were members of this national team that competed in St. Petersburg.”
Finally, Sergei Fyodorov was saluted for a career that included winning the NHL’s Hart trophy as most valuable player and as a three time Stanley Cup champion. Legendary coach Scotty Bowman said of Fyodorov he was one of his favorite players to coach and the only one who could play both forward and defence.
"I am so honoured and so pleased that this life of hockey that has given me so much joy has brought me to this place and this special recognition." Fyodorov said. "I had a lot of fun during my career but it's not alway that easy. There were a lot of tears and a lots of negative things. But all that is overcome when you achieve an honour like today's induction into the HoF."
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