July 19th, 2024

Roenick gets into Hockey Hall of Fame after a lengthy wait. 2024 class includes 2 US women’s players

By Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press on June 25, 2024.

FILE - Former Chicago Blackhawks player Jeremy Roenick acknowledges the crowd after being honored before an NHL hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Blackhawks, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Chicago. Roenick has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame after being eligible for more than a decade. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jeremy Roenick was getting a coffee when he got the call he once hoped for but some time ago stopped expecting when the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee meets typically in late June.

Tears welled up in his eyes and then down his face as he was rendered unable to pay, to hold the cup or to speak. It was to him an embarrassing but also a wonderful moment to get the word that he’ll be inducted into the hall this November.

“I still can’t believe it,” Roenick said. “I’m sitting here in shock. I’m shaking. I’m sweating. … This means the world to me.”

His lengthy wait is over after more than a decade, as Roenick was unveiled Tuesday as part of the seven-member class of 2024, the first to include two women’s players since 2010. It’s the first class with two U.S. women’s players in the hall’s history: Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell-Pohl.

“Hopefully this is a regular occurrence from here on out,” Darwitz said. “There’s so many players of our generation and past generations that have paved the way to get women’s hockey to be where it is today, so hopefully we’re the starting line of that happening every single year, that two female hockey players can get into the Hall of Fame.”

Two-time Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup-winning winger Pavel Datsyuk and former Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber were elected in their first year of eligibility. Longtime executives Colin Campbell and David Poile were chosen in the builder category.

Roenick’s 1,216 points with Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Jose are fourth most of any U.S.-born player. He has been a candidate since 2012 and passed over each year since.

“I actually did not think it was going to happen,” Roenick said on a conference call with reporters. “Having something when you wait for it, and like I waited for it, never knowing if it would happen, it feels like it means more because it hit me really, really hard.”

Datsyuk and Weber were slam dunks to be first-ballot Hall of Famers. Datsyuk dazzled as “the Magic Man” throughout a 14-year career with Detroit in which he excelled offensively and defensively and afterward won also won Olympic gold with Russia in 2018 when NHL players did not participate.

“Of course I’m pumped,” Datsyuk said. “Now I’m a lucky boy. I’m happy.”

Weber, only 38, is still under contract – his rights are owned by the Utah Hockey Club that relocated from Arizona and used to be called the Coyotes – but was eligible because injuries ended his playing career in 2021 after helping Montreal reach the final. A two-time Olympic gold medal winner for Canada in 2010 and “˜14, he said he screened the hall’s call a couple of times not recognizing the number or expecting the news.

“My career obviously it was a great career,” said Weber, who played 11 of his 16 NHL seasons with Nashville and served as captain there from 2010-16. “I wish it could’ve gone longer and something that the body kind of tells you it’s time and unfortunately it was a tough time because mentally I still felt like I could compete and contribute but physically I just had nothing left to give.”

Poile, who drafted and then later traded Weber, has the most victories of any general manager in league history from his stints running the Washington Capitals and the Predators. He follows his late father, fellow exec Bud Poile, into the hall.

“I wish I could have a little conversation with him today,” he said.

Campbell, who spent more than a decade on the selection committee, has been working high up in the NHL office for more than 20 years since a stint coaching the New York Rangers. He said it was “kind of shocking” to get the call.

Darwitz and Wendell-Pohl were teammates at the University of Minnesota and on the U.S. national team, reaching the Olympic final in Salt Lake City in 2002 and leaving with silver medals. Wendell-Pohl got emotional when she found out they’d also be going into the hall together, especially as another sign of the growth and appreciation of women’s hockey.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “To think of how far the game has come in such a short amount of time but yet feels so long ago when you think of where it was back when we kind of started playing on boys (teams) and the opportunities now that girls have to play.”

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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