The Hockey Hall of Fame have announced their inductees for 2018, and among them are Martin Brodeur and Martin St. Louis. The hall has also inducted Gary Bettman, Willie O’Ree, Jayna Hefford and Alexander Yakushev. Players like Sergei Zubov, Theoren Fleury, Daniel Alfredsson and Alexander Mogilny will have to wait at least another season to see if they are accepted into the honored group.
Brodeur sticks out among all the player candidates as the easiest decision after a career that set the all-time record for goaltenders in wins, shutouts, games played and points. Brodeur led the New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cup championships, while also winning a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and four Vezina’s as the league’s top goaltender. His 691 career wins are 140 more than second place Patrick Roy, while he has a 23-shutout lead on Terry Sawchuk with 125. Roberto Luongo is the closest active goaltender in both categories, trailing in wins by 120 and shutouts by 49. Basically, his records are unlikely to be matched for a long time, if ever.
St. Louis is the poster boy for small players who were overlooked because of their size. Undrafted, St. Louis had to prove himself in college and then the IHL before being given an NHL opportunity. After some early struggles with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis turned into one of the most dynamic offensive players of a generation in Tampa Bay, twice winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer. He also took home a Stanley Cup, a Hart Trophy, three Lady Byng’s and a handful of All-Star appearances during his 1,134-game career. St. Louis finished up with the New York Rangers in 2015 with 1,033 career points in the regular season. Add in 90 more playoff points in 107 games, and you have the career of a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Bettman and O’Ree are heading in as builders, one a commissioner that has led the league since 1993 and the other the first black player to suit up for an NHL game. Bettman’s accomplishments in the league speak for themselves, as the NHL is in a strong financial position and is expected to expand to 32 teams in the near future. It’s O’Ree though who will go in with much fanfare, after years of watching from the sidelines. Making his debut for the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958, O’Ree would break the color barrier for the NHL and change how the game was seen for many around the world. His impact wasn’t as simple as that game though, as O’Ree has worked tirelessly with the league and hockey community for the six decades that have followed to introduce the game to players who might not normally be given the opportunity to play. Even now, at the age of 82 he continues his work to ensure that no one should be denied the chance to play hockey because of the color of their skin.
Hefford, a legend in women’s hockey goes into the Hall of Fame just four years after winning her fourth Olympic gold medal. She also took home 12 World Championship medals, the first of which she earned back in 1997 as a teenager. A prolific scoring threat for her whole career, she routinely recorded crucial goals in the dying minutes of important international games, and dominated the NWHL and CWHL during season play.
Yakushev may be less well-known to younger NHL fans, but anyone who watched the 1972 Summit Series will be familiar of his work. The legendary Russian player was a mixture of skill and brute force, and collected 10 World Championship medals over his long career. In ’72 against Canada, one of the most famous international series of all-time, Yakushev actually led the Russian squad and trailed only Phil Esposito—a player he was compared to during his time—in total scoring.