It sometimes gets lost in the hubbub of the playoffs, the draft and the start of free agency but this week the NHL announced the 2011 Hall of Fame inductees, which was made up of four former NHL stars who were chosen by an 18-member selection committee.
The most notable of the four selections was longtime Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars goaltender Ed Belfour, who made it on his very first attempt. Belfour was a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, as the league’s best goalie and helped lead the Dallas Stars to the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup in 1999. During his 17-year career in which he played for Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida, Belfour tallied 484 wins which is third all-time.
He will enter the Hall with Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Howe.
Belfour earned the nickname “Eddie the Eagle” when he entered the league in 1991, thanks to the way his facemask was painted. He went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy, as the league’s top rookie that year and helped lead the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals, despite coming up just short against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He would finally finish the job eight years later with the Stars.
"It is hard to put into words what this means to me," Belfour told ESPN. "I would like to thank all of my teammates and people along the way who helped me achieve my hockey dreams."
He is not the only Stars player entering the Hall as Nieuwendyk, the team’s current general manager, managed to get the nod. Nieuwendyk won three Cups with three different teams and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup MVP in 1999 with Dallas, several years after earning his first piece of hardware, the Calder Trophy.
Howe has a very recognizable name to hockey fans and historians alike. His father happened to be this guy by the name of Gordie, who just so happened to be one of the best to ever lace up skates. Howe however, switched from forward to defense and had 1,246 points in 22 NHL seasons. Twice he earned a trip to the Cup Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers, but came up short both times. He had three 20-goal seasons and was a runner up for the Norris Trophy three times in his career.
Gilmour played 20 seasons as a member of several teams including the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. In 1989 he won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames along with the Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s best defensive minded forward. He finished his career with 964 assists and 1,414 points.
Each of these guys helped usher in the next generation as the best the NHL had to offer and they all have certainly earned this honor. The induction ceremony will take place in Toronto on Nov. 14.
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.