Former Leafs Dominate Induction Class
Tuesday, 06.28.2011 / 7:46 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer - Mapleleafs.com commentator
|RELATED: 2011 Hall Class | Video: Highlights | Conference Call: Gilmour | Nieuwendyk | Belfour|
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With his legacy firmly cemented in Toronto, Doug Gilmour couldn’t be blamed for wondering whether hockey fans across North America would grasp the magnitude of his career.
No need to worry anymore.
Gilmour, whose career took him from St. Louis, to Calgary, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo, Montreal and then for one shift back to the Leafs, is now an honoured member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Upon arriving with the Leafs in a massive 10-player deal in January of 1992, Gilmour found himself the unquestioned leader of a talented team that fell one game short of the 1993 Stanley Cup finals.
Gilmour’s production actually went up during the brutal checking of the post-season.
The author of so many playoff moments (including the 1993 spinarama behind the net goal against Curtis Joseph), Gilmour set the Leafs’ record for playoff points in just 52 contests.
“The opportunity to play in Toronto is something you can never forget or regret,” Gilmour said in a conference call that followed his election.
“There is pressure but you accept that role and you compete. I played in a lot of cities but as far as point production goes, I played my best in Toronto.”
Stanley Cup: Calgary, (1989)
Regular season: 393 games, 131 goals, 321 assists, 452 points.
Playoffs: 52 games, 17 goals, 60 assists, 77 points.
Regular season: 1,474 games, 450, goals, 964 assists, 1414 points
Playoffs: 182 games, 60 goals, 128 assists, 188 points.
For a player never drafted in the NHL, Ed Belfour made good time when it came to garner the game’s ultimate honour.
In his first year of candidacy, Belfour was issued his berth to the Hall of Fame.
“It was a great honour and I want to thank all my teammates, the great coaches, my mom and dad,” he said. “This really surprised me. I have a lot of emotions. You always have it in the back of your mind that you want to play but there comes a time where you can’t."
Belfour remembered his one Stanley Cup win as a tremendous highlight.
“It was a dream come true, winning that Stanley Cup in Dallas. We had a great veteran team and Hitch (coach Ken Hitchcock) did a great job with the guys."
Signed as a free agent by the Leafs to replace Curtis Joseph in 2002, Belfour stumbled, letting in a goal in his first shot to elicit widespread, if premature booing.
“I liked playing in Toronto. It was a challenge. Tie (Domi) was fun, he got guys laughing. Mats (Sundin) was such a great leader. I got off to a slow start but that was OK. If you gave 100 per cent the fans recognized it. I enjoyed being part of the hockey Mecca of the world. My only regret is that I couldn’t bring them a Stanley Cup.”
Stanley Cup: Dallas (1999)
Regular season: 93 wins 61 losses, 15 overtime losses, 2.51 goals against average.
Playoff: 9 wins, 11 losses, 2.34 goals against average
Career stats: 963 games, 484 wins, 320 losses, 14 ties.
Joe Nieuwendyk, one of scores of Whitby kids to master hockey and lacrosse, was acknowledged for a superb career that saw him leave Cornell as one of the few players heading to the league from a US college. He was a star with the Calgary Flames, and the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, and Florida Panthers.
Nieuwendyk was the Conn Smythe winner in 1999 as the Stars struck for a victory that nudged football of the sportspages in Dallas.
Playing with his hometown team, Nieuwendyk said, was one of the highlights of his career.
“Being in Toronto (in 2003-2004) was one of my most enjoyable years,” Nieuwendyk said. “To actually put that crest on every night, you felt the electricity when you put it on.”
Stanley Cups: Dallas (1999), New Jersey (2003)
Regular season: 64 games, 22 goals, 28 assists, 50 points
Playoffs: 9 games, six goals, zero assists.
Regular season: 1,257 games, 564 goals, 562 assists, 1,126 points
Playoffs: 158 games, 66 goals, 50 assists, 116 points.
Eligible since 1998, Mark Howe wasn’t sure the call about his induction would ever come.
“I never dreamt this could happen to me,” said the six time all-star.
“I know that I’ve been close before. It’s just a tremendous honour to be considered. I know I’m not in a class with the Orrs and Gretzky but I’m to be inducted with these players is a great honour to me.”
He is related to someone in that class.
“I know this is going to be a great day for my dad. He is going to be as proud as any father can be.”
Stanley Cups: 0
Regular season: 929 games, 197 goals, 545 assists, 742 points.
Playoffs:101 games, 10 goals, 51 assists, 61 points.