by Neil Becker
Pierre Turgeon finally received that long overdue phone call.
Turgeon, a five-time All-Star in a standout 19-year NHL career, reached another major achievement when on Wednesday, June 21, he received that thrilling phone call telling him that he would be among the 2023 class to be this coming November going into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Selected first overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, Turgeon played for the Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, St Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche in a distinguished career which saw him play 1,294 games where he scored 515 goals and 1,327 points. His best season came with the Islanders when in the 1992/93 campaign, he scored 58 goals along with 132 points and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Prior to getting drafted, Turgeon had a couple of monster seasons with the Granby Bisons of the QMJHL, including his draft year when he scored 69 goals and 154 points which earned him the Mike Bossy Trophy awarded to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey Player who is looked upon to be the best NHL prospect.
Up until now, Turgeon stood alone as the only player in NHL history to have at least 1,300 points and not be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Showing to be a real money player, Turgeon produced 35 goals and 62 assists in 109 career playoff games.
“It is a privilege to be amongst the greats of the game,” Turgeon said. “I am so happy to receive this great honor.”
One of many special moments in Turgeon's career came on November 8, 2005, when playing with the Colorado Avalanche. He became the 34th player ever to reach the 500-goal plateau during a game in San Jose. Turgeon, who also participated in the 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1996 NHL All-Star Games, officially called it a career on September 5, 2007.
On November 13, 2023, Turgeon, along with former goalies Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso and Henrik Lundqvist, forward Caroline Ouellette, former NHL coach Ken Hitchcock and former executive the late Pierre Lacroix, will all be taking their rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Both Barrasso and Vernon were two-time Stanley Cup winners in their careers. Vernon, who was drafted 56th overall in the 1981 draft by the Calgary Flames, played a big role in helping them win the 1989 Stanley Cup. Eight years later, he would win his second cup with the Red Wings. Meanwhile, Barrasso, drafted 5th overall in the 1983 draft by the Buffalo Sabres, backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup wins.
Barrasso had a standout 18-year NHL career which saw him play for the Sabres, Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues, where he ended up with a 369-277-86 record along with 38 shutouts and a respectful 3.24 GAA. Barrasso's best year came in the 1992/93 season when we posted a 43-14-5 record with four shutouts and a 3.01 GAA with the Penguins.
As a rookie, Barrasso made a loud statement. He put together a solid 1983/84 rookie campaign with the Sabres, which saw him go 26-12-3 with two shutouts and a 2.84 GAA on his way to winning not only the Calder Trophy but also the Vezina for best goaltender in the NHL and earning a spot on the 1984 NHL First All-Star Team.
As a sophomore, Barrasso avoided the sophomore jinx and posted a 25-18-10 record with five shutouts and a 2.66 GAA, earning him the William M. Jennings trophy along with a spot on this time the 1985 NHL Second All-Star Team.
Other great honours include a spot on the 1993 NHL Second All-Star Team, and an Olympic Silver won in 2002 by Team USA.
The Hockey Hall of Fame won't be the first Hall of Fame that Barrasso has been voted into. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Two years later, the accolades kept coming when he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
His achievements also include the most playoff wins by an American goalie, with 61. He also shares the record for such achievements as most consecutive wins in the regular season with 14, and most consecutive playoff wins with 14, which began on May 9, 1992, until April 22, 1993. With 369 regular season wins, Barrasso finds himself the fourth-highest among American-born goaltenders.
Two other goalies being inducted this coming November are Vernon and a more recent NHLer, Henrik Lundqvist.
Vernon, born in Calgary, Alberta, was drafted 56th overall in 1981 by, coincidentally enough, the Calgary Flames. In a storied 19-year career, Vernon would play nine seasons for the Flames before his career took him to the Red Wings for three seasons, followed by stints with the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers before coming back home to play his final two years back in Calgary.
In total, Veron ended up with a 385-273-92 record with 27 shutouts and a 2.98 GAA. Throughout his career, Vernon has also proven to be a clutch playoff performer, putting together a 77-56 playoff record with 6 shutouts and a 2.68 GAA.
Prior to beginning his NHL career, Vernon was proving his worth in the WHL. While playing for the Calgary Wranglers, he received the 1983 Hap Emms Memorial Trophy for the best goaltender in that year's Memorial Cup tournament. That same season when he went 29-18-3-2 with three shutouts for the Wranglers, Vernon was named on the WHL's first All-Star squad.
During his tenure with the Wranglers, Vernon's stock rose when in the 1981/82 and 1982/83 seasons, his solid play didn't go unnoticed as he took home the WHL's MVP Award along with the WHL's top goaltending award and a spot on the WHL's First All-Star Team.
Upon breaking into the NHL, Vernon continued his outstanding play as the awards and accolades kept coming. His finest hour as a Calgary Flame came in the summer of 1989 when he led them to that Stanley Cup win. After posting a 37-6-5 record with a 2.65 GAA that same season, Vernon found himself on the NHL Second Team All-Star.
His resume also includes such notable achievements as the William M. Jennings Trophy, which he won as a Detroit Red Wing with goalie partner Chris Osgood, for the fewest goals against in the 1995/96 season. Vernon, a five-time All-Star, also won the 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy as a Red Wing, which goes to the player deemed most valuable during the playoffs. In the 1997 playoffs, Vernon went 16-4 with one shutout and a 1.76 GAA, leading the Wings to their first Stanley Cup since 1955.
"It is an emotional time for me," Vernon said about being voted into the Hall. "It's unbelievable. My phone has been lighting up with texts. I guess it comes back to family. My mother was my first hockey coach, and we were a hockey family. Hockey was instilled in me at a very young age. I had older brothers that used to shoot pucks on me, so I was obviously the guy that was stuck in net."
Meanwhile, Lundqvist, the third goalie of the 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame class, was drafted 205th overall by the New York Rangers, where he would go on to enjoy a 15-year career on Broadway. The Swedish star posted a 459-310 record, with 96 overtime losses and 64 shutouts.
Lundqvist, affectionately known as 'King Henrik,' signed on October 9, 2020, a one-year 1.5-million-dollar contract with the Washington Capitals before announcing in December that he wouldn't play that season due to heart issues. Eventually, on August 20, 2021, 'The King' announced his retirement from the NHL.
Overall, Lundqvist has a resume full of great accomplishments, such as being a five-time Vezina Trophy Winner. The King's best season came in 2011/12 when he posted a 39-18 record with five OTL, eight shutouts, and a 1.97 GAA.
Besides winning the Vezina in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013, he also took home the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Trophy in 2012. Also on Lundqvist's resume was the King Clancy Award, which he won in 2019 and 2020 for showing leadership skills both on and off the ice.
During his first year, Lundqvist made a strong statement by posting an impressive 30-12 record with nine overtime losses. As a rookie, he also had two shutouts and a 2.24 GAA, earning him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team.
His accomplishments also included playing in the NHL All-Star Game on five occasions in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2018 and 2019. He also was named in 2012 to the NHL First All-Star Team and in 2013 to the Second All-Star Team.
Lundqvist also wrote some NHL history by becoming the fastest goalie to hit the 400 win plateau and becoming the only goalie to start his career with seven consecutive seasons with 30 or more wins. He was also the winningest European goalie in NHL history with 459 and recorded the most shutouts with 64 in Rangers' history.
On the international circuit, Lundqvist simply dominated as he led Sweden to gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics, where he went 5-1-0 with a 2.33 GAA. Lundqvist also helped Sweden at the 2017 World Championships to gold when he went a perfect 5-0 record with a microscopic 1.31 GAA. That was 'The King's' second World Championship gold medal as he also led Sweden to the 2002 World Championship.
The fifth inductee for the Players Category in the 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame Class is Team Canada's four-time Olympic Gold Medal champion, Caroline Ouellette.
During a storied career playing in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), Ouellette was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame in 2023.
Besides helping the Team Canada women win Olympic Gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, 2006 Turin Olympics, 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and 2014 Olympics at Sochi, Ouellette has also won six IIHF World Women's Championships in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012 along with four Clarkson Cup Championships.
Ouellette is one of only three female players to have accomplished winning the Clarkson Cup, Olympic Gold and an IIHF Women's World Championship Gold.
In total, Ouellette played 179 CWHL games with the Montreal Stars, Les Canadiennes de Montreal where she scored 131 goals along with 314 total points.
During her career, Oullette also played in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) with the Montreal Axion, along with nine games in the Western Women's Hockey League (WWHL), where in 2007/08, she scored seven goals and 16 points in only nine games with the Minnesota Whitecaps.
Other career achievements include Clarkson Cup top forward and top scorer in 2009. She was also named CWHL's MVP for the 2008/09 and 2010/11 campaigns. Ouellette was also the first CWHLer to hit the 300-point plateau.
Come November, this Montreal native will become the 10th female inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Being inducted in the Builders Category are former NHL coach Ken Hitchcock and the late Pierre Lacroix, who played a major role in building the Colorado Avalanche dynasty that won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and again in 2001.
Hitchcock, who coached the Dallas Stars for parts of seven seasons, went on to have coaching stints with the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, back to the Stars for the 2017/18 season, followed by a year as the Edmonton Oilers bench boss.
During an illustrious 22-year NHL coaching career, the man affectionately known as 'Hitch' posted in 1,598 games behind the bench, an 849-534-88 record with 127 OTL.
Ranked with the fourth-highest wins for an NHL coach, Hitchcock's finest hour in the NHL came in his third season on the Stars bench when he played a big role in helping the Stars finish 51-19-12 in the regular season before winning in 1999 the team's first Stanley Cup which came against the Buffalo Sabres.
Besides the Stanley Cup, Hitchock's achievements also include winning the Jack Adams Award in 2012, coaching his team to eight division wins and celebrating two President Trophy wins.
On his resume, he also has been elected Order of Hockey in Canada and has accumulated three Olympic Gold Medals as Team Canada's assistant coach in the 2002, 2010 and 2014 games.
The seventh member to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame this coming November is the late Pierre Lacroix, who is going into the Builders Category.
Lacroix, born in Montreal, Quebec, was instrumental in shaping the Colorado Avalanche into a true dynasty that would capture the 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cups. This former player agent changed jobs and was named General Manager in May 1994 for the young up-and-coming Quebec Nordiques. This team had talented young players such as Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Valeri Kamensky, to name just a few. Due to economic reasons, the Nordiques relocated to Denver, Colorado, a couple of years later, where they were renamed the Colorado Avalanche.
During that first season in Denver, Lacroix made his biggest trade when on December 6, 1995, they shocked the hockey world by obtaining future Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens and steady forward Mike Keane in a blockbuster deal. Two other deals which Lacroix made that were crucial to Colorado's Stanley Cups occurred in the fall of 1995 when the Avs acquired rugged forward and Stanley Cup winner Claude Lemieux from the New Jersey Devils and, in a separate deal, defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh from the San Jose Sharks. Needless to say, all these deals played a major role that spring in the Avalanche winning the 1996 Stanley Cup.
Lacroix was never shy to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal. On March 6, 2000, this shrewd general manager made another deal in obtaining future Hockey Hall of Famers forward Dave Andreychuk and defenceman Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins. Over the years, Lacroix was active in trading or signing for such star players as defenceman Rob Blake, forwards Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Theo Fleury and defenceman Darius Kasparaitis, to name a few.
In total, Lacroix served as the team's President and General Manager for 11 seasons, where he played a major role in helping the Avs not only reach the playoffs in each of those 11 seasons but also in helping the franchise set a record for placing first in their division nine times. The team under Lacroix also went to the conference finals six times, along with, of course, winning those two Stanley Cups. Eventually, on May 10, 2013, almost seven years after stepping down as the team's General Manager, Lacroix stepped down as the Avalanche team president.
Needless to say, the move to Colorado, followed by the Stanley Cups, helped create a strong interest for hockey in Colorado. Sadly, Lacroix won't be able to enjoy this latest accomplishment as he passed away on December 13, 2020, at the young age of 72.
You won't get an argument among hockey fans that these seven individuals all belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all of them.