Happy to see new Vancouver Canucks Hockey Hall of Famers Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin having a night to be honoured at Rogers Arena on December 1st.
I won’t be covering it, I’m not allowed to (we’ll save that bizarre and ridiculous story about non-hockey people for later), but that’s OK, because I had the honour and privilege to spend four days around dozens of old friends and acquaintances from over the decades who represent the best in the hockey business from all walks of life.
The Vancouver Canucks contingent was exemplary in every way. The Sedin lads went out of their way to cooperate with all of our media requests and appearances, as did Lu’. Their dry humour on stage extended to the social gatherings. It was cool to see management and ownership having the opportunity to participate in the festivities, including Hockey Hall of Fame honouree (2019) Jim Rutherford.
There were new friends and acquaintances as well. Brendan Morrison, centre on the Canucks famous ‘West Coast Express’ line with Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund, is an incredible dude. He had long talks with many fans at a shindig and put up with the fawnings of others, including a dear friend’s significant other.
Morrison had an opportunity to play in the Legend’s Classic game on Sunday along with Canucks assistant general manager and Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato. She was as classy as ever on and off the ice.
How cool was it that Brian Burke got to hand both of the Sedin twins their Hockey Hall of Fame plaques before their speeches. Unreal. From the 1999 NHL Draft to 2022 Hall of Fame. What a proud, great moment for Burkie.
Brother from another mother Bill Clement was honoured at the luncheon on Monday with the Foster Hewitt Award for his excellence in broadcasting over the years. One of those great guys you pick right up with regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve seen him. A pro’s pro who won two Stanley Cups as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers before clipping on the mic’. What a privilege to host some radio shows on TV in New York City with him about a decade back.
I’ve interviewed most of the Honoured Members we caught up with at one point or another, except one. Eddie Belfour, with whom I got a rare photo. It’s not typically a thing I do at private functions, but in this case I had odd justification.
“I never interviewed you or talked to you because you were always such a %#&?! grump, so this would be a great time to actually take a picture,” I declared as we laughed. “People were afraid to walk by you on game days.”
I had a chance to thank Nick Lidstrom for on behalf of my two older brothers for winning four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. Tom and Jim have been ‘Wing Nuts’ since they started playing pond hockey back in the 1960’s, back when ponds in their hometown in Michigan actually froze for entire winters. Nowadays they might freeze for two weekends.
It was nice to talk to the Lidstrom, ‘the Perfect Human’, without a microphone in my hand.
(Which leads to a nifty trivia question probably for hard cores NHL fans only, because many of you won’t give a hoot. But can you name any of the five Red Wings that won all four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings between 1997 and 2008?? (answer has been added to the bottom of my earlier Sedins/Luongo Hall of Fame story. HInt: there was one other Swede).
Bernice Carnegie summed up her late father Herb Carnegie’s life beautifully; he was inducted in the Builder’s Category. No doubt he overcame more than any of the other inductees, a trailblazing player who was denied a career in the NHL because of the colour of his skin. It didn’t stop him from dedicating his life from giving others opportunities.
I’ve had a chance to interview her regarding her efforts on multiple occasions, and among others things, she’s a supporter of Canadian Blind Hockey. Herb lost his sight as he got older. I strongly suggest taking a look at the Future Aces program.
Aside from the obvious Vancouver Canucks connections at the induction this year, there were also a total of three Swedes going in, the other being Ottawa Senators great Daniel Alfredsson. Delightful to chat with, but not as dry as the twins.
My favourite line from Daniel was at the end of his speech: “Henrik was a better player than me and a better person, and I say that with great sincerity and knowing that he’ll be up here in ten minutes.”
Henrik wasn’t relinquishing anything, offering up a good brotherly jab at the beginning and at the end of his presentation. A low-key and entertaining sibling rivalry is alive and well.
Congratulations to one and all and thank you to the Hockey Hall of Fame.