Carbonneau, Wickenheiser Headline Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019

TORONTO — Whenever the calendar flipped to June over the last 16 years, Guy Carbonneau’s mind would start to wander.

He owned a trio of Stanley Cup rings and was awarded of the Selke Trophy as NHL’s top defensive forward three times in his 19 seasons.

But was that resume good enough for the Hockey Hall of Fame? 

“You sit down and look at what you’ve done,” Carbonneau said. “The Selkes were there, the Stanley Cups were there and everything else.”

As other greats retired, however, he continually got bumped down the list. 

“There were some years you think you have a chance,” Carbonneau added. “(And) there’s some years you know you don’t.”

The news he’d been waiting for came back in June when hall chairman Lanny McDonald informed Carbonneau he was part of the institution’s 2019 class.

Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (Ian Muttoo/Flickr)

The native of Sept Iles, Que., will be inducted along with Canadian women’s star Hayley Wickenheiser, offensive defenceman Sergei Zubov and Czech great Vaclav Nedomansky in the players category on Monday night.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and legendary Boston College head coach Jerry York will go in as builders.

Carbonneau Gets Long-Awaited Call

“Playing in the NHL was a dream,” Carbonneau said Friday after receiving his commemorative ring. “I never dreamt of being in the Hall of Fame.”

Carbonneau is credited with shutting down Wayne Gretzky in the Montreal Canadiens’ victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 Stanley Cup final — making him the last captain of a Canadian NHL team to hoist the chalice.

The Great One finished with two goals and five assists in Montreal’s five-game triumph after putting up 33 points in his team’s 19 previous playoff outings that spring. 

Carbonneau, who won the Selke Trophy in 1988, 1989 and 1992, was an offensive dynamo in junior, but focused on the other side of the puck as a centre in the pros out of necessity on those stacked Canadiens teams of the early 1980s.

Guy Carbonneau
Guy Carbonneau (THW Archives)

“It was something I worked on,” said the 59-year-old. “I was just happy to be on the ice at important moments.”

Carbonneau, who also won the Cup in 1986 with Montreal and then again in 1999 with the Dallas Stars, finished with 260 goals and 663 points in 1,318 regular-season games. He added 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) in 260 playoff outings.

“You can put that gentleman in any position, any part of the game, anywhere on the ice,” said Zubov, who played five seasons with Carbonneau in Dallas. “You throw his stick upside down on the faceoff, he’ll still win it.

“That was Guy Carbonneau. Amazing.”

Wickenheiser, Women’s Hockey Trailblazer

The only first-year eligible player to be selected, Wickenheiser is the Canadian women’s program’s all-time leading scorer. The 41-year-old originally from Shaunavon, Sask., played on boys teams growing up in Calgary, often tucking her hair under her helmet so she didn’t stand out.

Hayley Wickenheiser
Hayley Wickenheiser waves to the crowd as she comes on the ice for her retirement celebration at Rogers Place. (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

“I was talking to my sister and we were going through some things I went through in minor hockey,” said Wickenheiser, who retired in 2017. “A lot of good memories that have come back.

“Just be in this company is pretty cool.”

In her stellar 23-year career playing for Canada that blazed a trail in a sport desperately in need of star power, Wickenheiser scored 168 goals and 379 points in 276 games to help secure four straight Olympic gold medals (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) as well as seven world championships.

She was captain of national teams that won Olympic gold in 2010, as well as world titles in 2007 and 2012.

Wickenheiser, who is studying to become a doctor, is currently an assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It is closure in some way,” Wickenheiser said. “I went from playing to medical school to working with the Leafs. I haven’t really had a moment to take a breath since I retired.

“This is going to be probably that moment.”

Zubov, 1994 Stanley Cup Winner

Zubov played 12 of his 16 NHL seasons with Dallas, finishing with 152 goals and 771 points in 1,068 regular-season games.

Sergei Zubov of the New York Rangers
Sergei Zubov of the New York Rangers. (Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport)

The 49-year-old Moscow native added 24 goals and 117 points in 164 playoff contests, winning the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994 and Dallas in 1999.

“It’s something that I’m going to remember the rest of my life,” Zubov said of going in the hall. “It’s amazing.”

Rutherford, York Go in as Builders

Rutherford, who also played 457 games as a goalie with four NHL teams, was named GM of the Hartford Whalers in 1994 and helped the franchise — by then the Carolina Hurricanes — win its only Cup in 2006.

The native of Beeton, Ont., was then the architect of the Penguins’ back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.

“It’s sunk in,” said the 70-year-old Rutherford. “It’s just really hard to put into words how I feel right now.”

General manager Jim Rutherford Pittsburgh Penguins 2019 NHL Draft
General manager Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2019 NHL Draft (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

York, 74, has won five NCAA titles, including four with Boston College. The Watertown, Mass., product started his head coaching career at age 26 and is in his 48th season behind the bench. 

Nedomansky Broke Barriers

Nedomansky, 75, played 12 years in his native Czechoslovakia before becoming the first athlete from an Eastern European communist country to defect to North America in order to pursue a professional hockey career in 1974.

He starred in the World Hockey Association with the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls, combining to score 253 points in 252 games, before joining the Detroit Red Wings as a 33-year-old rookie in 1977.

All records of Nedomansky playing for the Czechs were destroyed and his citizenship withdrawn following the defection, but he registered 122 goals and 278 points in 421  games with Detroit, the St. Louis Blues and the Rangers.

For his part, Carbonneau said it’s hard to believe he’ll have his name in the Hall alongside Montreal greats like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur.

“It’s still surreal that I’m part of that group,” he said. “It’ll take me a while to get accustomed to it.

“I’m just happy it happened when I’m healthy and I can enjoy it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2019.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press