By Neil Smith:
I spent last night at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I entered the building at 6pm looking for my friend and Hall of Famer, Michel Goulet. He came by about 10 minutes later with a ticket to the Great Hall for me to sit between himself and Dale Hawerchuk. We sat down in the Great Hall at about 7pm and waited until “who knows when”. James Duthie was the host and did his regular AAA job. The man that I’ve always respected, admired and been fascinated by, Dick Irvin, was the co-host. Irvin still has that amazing voice, unbelievable recall, and quick wit. If you closed your eyes when he was speaking last night you’d swear Danny Gallivan was in the building.
First up was Igor Larionov who read a very well thought out thank you speech. He’s an amazing hockey player, not just on the ice but also in his mind. He has to go down as one of the best hockey minds that the NHL has known. He was unemotional, but very much thankful to all the people who had helped his hockey career along the way. The biggest surprise in his speech, was that when he signed with Vancouver at age 29 he thought he’d go back to Russia in three seasons. Instead he stayed for 14 seasons and won 3 Stanley Cups with Detroit.
Next up was Ray Scapinello, what a great example of work ethic and dedication. He was thrilled to be going into the hall and just as thrilled to have been able to work in the NHL for his entire adult life. Ray was one of the hardest working men you could ever meet. Imagine for a moment, you’re a linesman which is a very non-descript part of the NHL to begin with. Next you’re 5 foot nothing. In a league where the players are getting bigger and bigger and big part of your job is breaking up fist fights. Still want the job? Ray never missed an assignment. He was voted best linesman in the NHL 20 times. There can’t be many more justifiable inductions than Ray Scapinello.
Next up was Ed Chynoweth. Unfortunately Ed passed away last April and his wife and two sons were there to accept the honor. Ed was a good man, a hockey man, and someone who you couldn’t dislike. He deserves his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Last was Glenn Anderson. Glenn is the reason why I wanted to attend this year’s Hall Inductions. I traded for him in 1994 just hours before the trade deadline. Mike Gartner went to Toronto for Anderson when I made the trade with Cliff Fletcher. I always felt bad for Mike, I like Mike, he’s a very good man. Mike Keenan didn’t like the way Gartner played and wanted me to move him out, I did it and luckily Cliff was willing to deal Anderson, who was a free agent at the end of the season.
Anderson played great for us during his 12 or so regular season games and of course during the playoffs when he scored 3 goals including 2 game winners. He fit into our team right away. He had such a close relationship with Messier, Lowe, Tikkanen, MacTavish and Beukeboom. Glenn scored 498 goals and won 6 Stanley Cups in his career. If he shouldn’t be in the Hockey Hall of Fame then nobody should.
All four men were very deserving inductees, it was a happy night at the Hockey Hall of Fame.