TORONTO – It was only a few weeks ago that Igor Larionov and Glenn Anderson were playing exhibition games together in Europe and had a discussion about how nice it would be to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame at the same time.
Turns out it was more than just wishful thinking. The Russian centre and former Edmonton Oilers sniper were elected to the Hall on Tuesday along with former linesman Ray Scapinello and junior hockey builder Ed Chynoweth.
Larionov and Anderson were recently in Russia to play during a celebration for Slava Fetisov’s 50th birthday and travelled to Belarus to help open an arena on the invitation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
“Igor and I were kind of talking about this,” said Anderson. “We were thinking if we do get in, it’s going to be – I don’t know if we can compare it to what the party was like over in Moscow and in Belarus.
“We’ll try our hardest to make it a good one.”
It’s hard to blame them. They each had to wait.
Many were surprised that Larionov was passed over after first becoming eligible last year. He was graceful in complimenting the 2007 inductees and indicated that it was no less special to receive a call 12 months later.
“I was really overwhelmed by the news,” said Larionov. “It’s a big, big honour.”
The call was even longer coming for Anderson. He’s been eligible since 1999 and had to watch as 23 players were enshrined before him during that time.
A 17-man panel is currently responsible for making the Hall selections and at least 75 per cent of those men must endorse a candidate for him to gain election. This was probably Anderson’s last really good shot because the NHL lockout kept any new players from playing their last game three years ago and becoming eligible.
Anderson was nervous in recent days and ended up getting a little choked up after finding out he’d be joining several former Edmonton teammates in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It’s very emotional,” he said. “This is right up there with one of the great things I’ve done in life.”
The induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 10.
Larionov had already won two Olympic gold medals and was considered one of the top players in the world when he joined the Vancouver Canucks in 1989. He was 29 at the time and among the first wave of Soviet players to come to North America.
Success was slow to come and Larionov found himself battling with San Jose Sharks management after they claimed him on waivers from Vancouver.
The turning point in his NHL career came early one morning in October 1995 when he received a call from Scotty Bowman and found out he’d been acquired by the Detroit Red Wings. Larionov soon found himself playing on a five-man Russian unit with Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Fetisov.
He ended up winning three Stanley Cups in Hockeytown.
“Finally I had a chance … to play the style I was taught to play in Russia,” said Larionov. “Puck control, possession, skating and creativity.
“Those eight seasons in Detroit I played for the Red Wings … that was success, that was fun, that was unbelievable support from the fans and the coaches and all the staff who was putting the team together. It was incredible.”
Anderson won six Stanley Cups during his career and is fifth all-time with 93 career playoff goals.
He was known as a big game player and became a key part of the Oilers dynasty. Anderson will now be enshrined with former teammates Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr and Jari Kurri.
“It’s definitely well deserved and long overdue,” said Gretzky. “I don’t think there was a better playoff pressure player other than maybe Rocket Richard. His championships and statistics speak for themselves and, more importantly, he was an unselfish teammate.”
Scapinello began his career as an NHL linesman in 1971 and didn’t retire until 33 years later. In the meantime, he worked almost 3,000 career games – 2,508 in the regular season, 426 in playoffs – and never missed an assignment.
He was one of the most well-respected officials of his era.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Scapinello. “When I started in this business my mindset was to keep working so I never could have imagined this.”
Chynoweth was a longtime president of the Western Hockey League and helped found the Canadian Hockey League in 1973. He ended up being in charge of both leagues for two decades before stepping down in 1995 to purchase the expansion Kootenay Ice, who went on to win the Memorial Cup in 2002.
Chynoweth died in April at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer.
“This is a tremendous honour for my father,” said son Dean Chynoweth. “My father had a passion for the game of hockey and was committed to doing whatever it took to improve the game. Our entire family is very proud.”
The Hall will also honour former Canadian Press hockey writer Neil Stevens with the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award and broadcaster Mike (Doc) Emrick with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.