The Hockey Hall of Fame just got a little more lively and focused today when Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille were approved for induction.
Hull and Robitaille were two of the game’s most colorful and productive personalities in the 1990s, while Yzerman and Leetch were renowned for their leadership abilities during careers spent almost exclusively with one organization.
Also inducted today in the builders category was New Jersey Devils GM/president/CEO Lou Lamoriello.
Media honorees this year are Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Dave Molinari for the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award and former hockey broadcaster John Davidson for the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.
The Hall’s 18-member selection committee met Tuesday morning to discuss the candidates for 2009 induction. The panel is made up of former players, hockey executives and media members. To gain entry into the Hall of Fame, a player must be retired at least three years from hockey and receive 14 or more votes from the selection committee.
The Hall of Fame does not release details of the discussion or vote, nor does it release the names of candidates who were rebuffed.
Here are thumbnails of the four players who will be honored at the induction celebration Nov. 9 in Toronto:
Apart from being in the top 10 in all-time goals (692), assists (1,063) and points (1,755), Yzerman is also the longest-tenured captain in North American professional sports history (19 years). He is best known for leading the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships during a six-year span, ending the franchise’s 42-year Cup drought in 1997. ‘Stevie Y’ was also a first-team NHL all-star in 2000, a member of the NHL all-rookie team in 1984 and his trophy shelf includes the Lester B. Pearson Award (1989), Conn Smythe Trophy (1998) Selke Trophy (2000) and the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy (2003).
One of the best finishers in the history of the game, Hull ranks third in all-time goals (741), had three 70-goal seasons and is the career leader in playoff power play goals (38). The three-time NHL first team all-star is also the only hockey player to have 50 goal seasons in the NCAA, minor pro and the NHL. Hull added a pair of Stanley Cups, one with Dallas in 1998-99 and the other with Detroit in 2001-02. Brett and his father, Bobby, are the highest scoring father/son duo in NHL history with a combined 1351 goals to their name.
Arguably the best American-born player of all-time, Leetch was one of the most prolific defensemen of the 1990s. Though he only twice was awarded the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, Leetch’s 640 points from 1990-2000 were second only to ’04 Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bourque (666). Leetch holds New York Rangers franchise records for career assists (741), goals by a defenseman (240), points by a defenseman (981) and career playoff points (89). He is also the first and only American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, capturing playoff MVP honors with 34 points in New York’s 1994 Stanley Cup run.
A ninth round pick in 1984 (No. 171), Robitaille emerged as a diamond-in-the-rough for the Los Angeles Kings. Starting with his Calder Trophy campaign in 1986-87, Robitaille went on to become the most prolific scoring left winger in NHL history, potting 668 career goals between the Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. He was an eight-time all-star and captured his lone Stanley Cup as a member of the 2001-02 Red Wings. Robitaille also left his legacy in the major junior ranks, as the Quebec League awards the Luc Robitaille Trophy to its highest scoring team each year.
– with files from Alex Mansfield
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Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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