Henrik Lundqvist, Caroline Ouellette lead Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2023

Henrik Lundqvist knew the call — if it was indeed coming — would light up his phone in the early evening.

Henrik Lundqvist, Caroline Ouellette lead Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2023

TORONTO — Henrik Lundqvist knew the call — if it was indeed coming — would light up his phone in the early evening.

The former New York Rangers goaltender was home in Sweden. The Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee was busy in Toronto paring down its 2023 list.

Lundqvist eventually saw a number he didn't recognize. 

The only problem? It read "Spain."

"It just didn't make sense with the caller ID," Lundqvist recalled thinking back in June.

Still, he decided to answer. Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald's voice was the next sound he heard.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top netminder headlines the hall's latest class set to be inducted Monday night.

"Very humbling," Lundqvist added at Friday's ring ceremony. "A great feeling when you're walking away from the game."

He will be joined by Caroline Ouellette, Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso and Pierre Turgeon as part of a goaltender-heavy player category. 

Former NHL head coach Ken Hitchcock and the late Pierre Lacroix, who was both an agent and executive, will go in as builders at Monday's induction ceremony. 

A star netminder in the league for 15 seasons, Lundqvist was a slam-dunk call to the hall in his first year of eligibility. 

Apart from that Vezina victory, he ranks sixth in league history in wins (459), ninth in games played (887) and 17th in shutouts (64). 

Those 459 victories are the most by a European netminder. The first Swedish goaltender to be inducted, Lundqvist won 61 more times in the playoffs before halting his career in 2020 because of a heart condition. 

Selected in the seventh round by New York at the 2000 NHL draft, he backstopped the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup final to go along with the Eastern Conference final appearances in 2012 and 2015. He also won Olympic gold with Sweden in 2006. 

"This is kind of the last hurrah," Lundqvist said. "Extremely proud and grateful." 

Ouellette, who won four Olympic gold medals with Canada's women's team, will enter on her second try after being passed over last year. 

She's one of three women's hockey players — along with Hall of Famers and international teammates Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford — to win four or more Olympic gold medals. 

The Montreal native helped Canada top the podium in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 to go along with six world championship titles. 

"Feels surreal," Ouellette said. "It wasn't something that was possible for most of my career. When women started being inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, I watched with a lot of pride because a lot of these women — the nine that are before me — they inspired me, they helped me throughout my career.

"Huge sense of pride." 

The rest of the Hall of Fame's 2023 class had to wait a lot longer. 

Vernon has been eligible since 2005, Barrasso since 2006, and Turgeon since 2010. 

Vernon won the Cup with his hometown Calgary Flames in 1989 and the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 — adding the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with that second title. 

At the time of his retirement, the 60-year-old sat seventh all-time in NHL regular-season wins (385), fourth among goalies in playoff appearances (138) and fifth in playoff victories (77). 

"I never even dreamed of this or thought of it, really, until that call came," Vernon said. "You see the odd article and things like that, but it just is what it is.

"Just take it in stride." 

Barrasso, who had a testy relationship with the media throughout his career, won both the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year and the Vezina during a magical 1983-84 season with the Buffalo Sabres out of high school as a phenom from the Boston area. 

A two-time Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, his 369 career victories rank fourth all-time among American-born goaltenders. 

"Just the sense of gratitude for the people that helped me — that's the first thing that popped into my head," Barrasso said. "My mom and dad to give me the opportunity, all the coaches along the way, my family, teammates, so many of whom are members of this hall. 

"You're just so grateful to have the experiences being with them that have allowed you to achieve this. That's really the overwhelming thing I take, even today."

Turgeon had 515 goals and 812 assists for 1,327 points over his 19 NHL seasons. The Rouyn, Que., product won the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of play, in 1993 with the New York Islanders. 

He was also the captain of the Montreal Canadiens in the team's final season at the Montreal Forum. 

"You hear the media — it might happen, it might not happen," Turgeon said of getting inducted. "I was privileged to do something I loved. I played hockey for a living. That's crazy. And I when I started my career I thought, 'If I played seven years, I'll be happy. If I play 10 years, wow.' I played 19 seasons. 

"I played hockey and I was blessed to do something I loved. This is the reward." 

Hitchcock, who ranks fourth on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list with 849, won the Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 as part of a career that included 22 seasons behind NHL benches. 

"In order to be a good coach, you've got to be a heck of a salesman," said the 71-year-old. "You're selling ideas, you're selling yourself, you're selling a concept of sacrifice. And to get the players to buy into that is really tough. 

"You've got to be relentless." 

Lacroix, who died in December 2020 at age 72, started his career in hockey as an agent before being named general manager of the Quebec Nordiques in 1994. 

The Montreal native moved with the franchise when it relocated to Colorado. 

Lacroix wasn't shy about making a bold move — he acquired the disgruntled Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens in 1995 — and would help guide the Avalanche to Cup victories in 1996 and 2001. 

"He was a gambler, first and foremost," said Lacroix's son, Eric. "(But) it was more about bringing something to the locker room and showing the team that they were all in it together. 

"He didn't like the limelight, but I think today he certainly would have." 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023. 


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press