The Hockey Hall of Fame got an infusion of goaltenders on Monday with the induction of Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Barrasso and Mike Vernon.
The ceremony in Toronto also included players Pierre Turgeon and Caroline Ouellette, coach Ken Hitchcock and late executive/agent Pierre Lacroix.
For Vernon, the call to the Hall was a long time coming.
“To have this happen 21 years after I finished my NHL career, this means more to me and my family than you could possibly know,” Vernon said. “Mom, you asked me once if I was ever going to go into the Hall of Fame? Well, I made it.”
Vernon played for 19 years, mostly for the Calgary Flames while also spending time with the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers. He finished with a .889 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average in 782 career games, captured two Stanley Cups and won the 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy after helping Detroit earn a championship.
Lundqvist, 41, was elected in his first year of eligibility. In a 15-season career, all with the New York Rangers, he appeared in 887 games, posting a .918 save percentage and 2.43 GAA. His 23,509 saves rank eighth most all-time. He captured the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie in 2011-12.
“My dad told me, my brother and my sister, ‘Dream big, it’ll inspire you to work harder,'” Lundqvist said. “I’ll never forget that. But to be honest, I never saw this.”
Barrasso, 58, helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. He won both the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) and the Vezina Trophy in 1983-84. He spent 12 seasons with the Penguins, six with the Buffalo Sabres and had short stints with the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.
Barrasso also was part of the United States’ silver-medal-winning team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“Being an Olympian is truly a highlight of my lifetime, and I put it right beside my two Stanley Cups,” Barrasso said.
Turgeon, 54, produced 1,327 points (515 goals, 812 assists) in 1,294 games over a 19-season career that featured parts of five apiece with the Sabres and Blues.
“As a young man, I was inspired to see my brother, Sylvain, play junior hockey and I dreamed of that for myself and I’m proud to say that we were the first and second pick in the first round in the NHL,” he said. “Pretty cool for two brothers.”
Ouellette, 44, starred in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and led Canada to four Olympic gold medals. She also amassed six gold medals at the IIHF World’s Women’s Championship.
Ouellette grew up playing against boys.
“I heard every possible type of name-calling, but these challenges helped me develop a deeper appreciation of how lucky I was to play hockey when so many women around my age didn’t have the same opportunity,” she said.
Hitchcock, 71, logged an 849-534-127 record along with 88 ties while coaching the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Blues and Edmonton Oilers. He led his teams to eight division titles and 14 playoff appearances, and he guided the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999.
“My heroes growing up were not players. They were coaches,” Hitchcock said.
Lacroix was the president and general manager of the Avalanche from 1994-2006, and Colorado earned two Stanley Cups in that span (1996, 2001). He died in 2020 at age 72.
–Field Level Media