The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 25, 2020 1:00 am

Iginla, Hossa lead '20 NHL Hall class

STEPHEN WHYNO | Associated Press

Like most kids growing up in Edmonton, Jarome Iginla admired Oilers legends Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. As a young Black hockey player, he paid particular attention when he saw someone in the NHL who looked like him in Grant Fuhr.

Iginla idolized Fuhr, cherishing their pictures taken together over the years, and soon will join him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The longtime Calgary Flames captain headlined the hall's six-person 2020 class Wednesday, making it in his first year of eligibility.

Iginla will be the fourth Black player inducted after Fuhr, women's hockey pioneer Angela James and Willie O'Ree. Iginla and Fuhr are the only Black NHL players enshrined for their on-ice accomplishments, while O'Ree was chosen in the builder category in 2018 for breaking the league's color barrier 60 years earlier.

“I didn't view myself in minor hockey as a Black hockey player but I was also aware that I was,” Iginla said. “It really was special to me to see the Black players that were in the NHL – to see Grant Fuhr starring, to be able to say to other people: 'Look at Grant Fuhr. He's an All-Star.' And to see Claude Vilgrain and Tony McKegney and to have answers for the other kids. It was very, very important for me following my dreams.”

Iginla was joined in the 2020 class by winger Marian Hossa, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women's goaltender Kim St. Pierre and longtime general manager Ken Holland.

Hossa was also elected in his first year of eligibility and joins 2015 inductee Chris Pronger as the only players to go into the hall while still under contract. Like Pronger, Hossa qualified because he hasn't played in three years; he retired in 2018 because of a skin disorder.

A skilled, two-way winger, Hossa won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He had 149 points in 205 playoff games and finished with 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games with the Senators, Thrashers, Penguins, Red Wings and Blackhawks.

“Going through the failures make you stronger,” said Hossa, who joins Slovak countrymen Stan Mikita and Peter Stastny as Hall of Famers. “Maybe for me, the third time's the charm. Not just in the final winning the Stanley Cup but also being the third Slovak.”

Lowe and Wilson had to wait more than 20 years to be inducted. Wilson, who won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 1982 and retired in 1993 said: “Timing never meant a thing to me. That's an understatement: Worth the wait.”

Lowe won the Cup six times – five with the Oilers and once with the New York Rangers in 1994. Hall chairman Lanny McDonald joked to Lowe, “You only won six Stanley Cups, you selfish rascal you.”

“It was always my dream to win a Stanley Cup,” said Lowe, the eighth member of Edmonton's dynasty to reach the hall. “I never dreamt of the Hall of Fame. I guess I should've expanded my dreams.”

Holland is trying to bring the Cup back to Edmonton as GM of the Oilers, so his building work isn't done. He qualified for the hall with his four championship: three as Detroit's GM and one as an assistant.

“I'm really cherishing this opportunity,” Holland said. “There's a few things that you'd like to accomplish in the game, and today was one of those.”

St. Pierre will be the eighth woman in the hall and the first goaltender. After wanting to be like Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, she traded in her figure skates for goalie equipment and backstopped Canada to three Olympic gold medals and five world championship titles.

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