Four of the National Hockey League’s greatest stars of the last 20 years have found a new home. Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
Sakic and Sundin were elected in their first window of eligibility. The timing is particularly auspicious for Oates, who earlier in the day had been appointed the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.
Hailing from Burnaby, BC, Sakic is a legend in Denver for captaining the Colorado Avalanche to two Stanley Cups (1996, 2001), while scoring 625 goals and tallying 1,641 points in 20 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques and the Avalanche. He owns every significant team offensive record. Sakic is the only one of the four inductees to win the Cup.
Of the others, Bure came closest to winning a Cup ring, playing in the Game 7 Final with the Vancouver Canucks in 1994. The native of Moscow, Russia recorded back-to-back 60-goal seasons from 1992-94 with the Canucks, and went on to register 58- and 59-goal campaigns with the Florida Panthers; he concluded his career with the New York Rangers in 2003.
Sundin, of Bromma, Sweden, spent his first four seasons with his draft team, the Quebec Nordiques, but made his mark with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He served as the team’s captain for 11 years; he had been the longest-serving European-born team captain in NHL history as of the end of the 2008 season. Sundin holds Leaf records for total goals and points, as well as power-play, shorthanded, game-winning and overtime goals.
Oates is generally acknowledged as one of the best passers and playmakers of his era. Born in Weston, ON, he had more assists than any player in the 1990s not named “Wayne Gretzky.” He formed half of the famous “Hull and Oates” combination with winger Brett Hull on the St. Louis Blues. Oates ended his playing days with 1,079 assists and 341 goals for 1,420 points in 1,337 career games with six different teams. Prior to being named the Capitals’ bench boss, Oates spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils.
Brendan Shanahan, currently the league’s head disciplinarian, was widely anticipated to be elected but he will have to wait another year along with Jeremy Roenick, Curtis Joseph, Eric Lindros and a host of others. The late Pat Burns, head coach for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, also did not garner enough votes for election; likewise, no builders were elected this year.
The four former players will be inducted in a ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 12.