Three Stanley Cups, two Olympic silver medals, 924 men’s college hockey wins and four silver medals in women’s international tournaments — the credentials of the newly-named U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class are certainly impressive.
So impressive, in fact, that one of the five members of the Class of 2013 opened his remarks with a joke.
“Good thing they didn’t list my stats, because it would say zero goals and zero assists,” Peter Karmanos, the owner and CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes, said with a chuckle.
Joining Karmanos in the class are former NHL and U.S. Men’s National Team forwards Bill Guerin and Doug Weight, former Women’s National Team forward Cindy Curley and former college hockey coach Ron Mason.
The five-member class will be formally inducted later this year at a date and location still to be announced.
Despite not having the statistics and notoriety of the four other members, Karmanos’ contributions to the game are certainly not something to joke about. Even before he became an NHL owner, Karmanos made his mark at the grass-roots level as the founder of the powerhouse Compuware youth hockey program
He is one of the men most responsible for the growth of hockey in the south. In 1997, two years after purchasing the Hartford Whalers, he moved the team to Raleigh, N.C., where they became the Hurricanes. Despite coming under fire from many people who felt the Hurricanes should have never left Hartford, the move has been a catalyst for growing the game in non-traditional markets.
“Whenever I had the opportunity to develop hockey, I did it without hesitation,” said Karmanos was awarded the Lester Patrick Award in 1998 for his service to hockey in the United States. “I feel that it’s the greatest game on the planet.”
In 2006, Karmanos was rewarded for relocating the Hurricanes when he hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Curley was a pioneer of women’s hockey in the United States, playing in the inaugural IIHF Women’s World Championship in 1990. In that tournament, she posted 23 points in five games, which still stands as a World Championship record.
Additionally, she has worked with USA Hockey in several capacities, most recently as a member of the U.S. Olympic Athlete Advisory Committee.
“My favorite part of hockey has always been the people I’ve met over the years,” she said. “I’m honored and thrilled to be a part of this class.”
Weight was a member of that 2006 Hurricanes team. A second-round pick by the New York Rangers in 1990, he finished his 19-year NHL career with 1,033 points in 1,238 career games.
In his 19-year NHL career, Weight suited up for six different teams, spending the majorty of is career with the Edmonton Oilers. In 2011, his final season in the NHL, he was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian contributions.
Guerin, the fifth overall pick by New Jersey in the 1989 NHL Draft, played with Weight in Edmonton from 1997-2001. The two reunited with St. Louis during the 2006-07 season, and again briefly with the New York Islanders for the 2008-09 season.
During that season, Guerin was traded to Pittsburgh, where he would finally hoist the Stanley Cup in 2009.
In addition to their NHL experience together, Weight and Guerin teamed up for three Olympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006) and two World Cups of Hockey (1996, 2004).
Both players cited the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Team as inspiration to their respective playing careers.
“Since that day, I’ve been so proud and excited to wear that USA jersey,” Weight said. “It’s a true honor to have that jersey on.”
Added Guerin: “It’s always been an honor to represent my country, playing a game I love so much. It was always a dream, ever since I knew what USA Hockey was back in 1980. I was fortunate enough to be able to live out that dream.”
Guerin and Weight shared several laughs during Thursday’s conference call to announce the class, particularly when asked if they had any stories of Herb Brooks from the 2002 Olympics, where he served as the U.S. coach.
One such story was when Keith Tkachuk was in the locker room doing his best Brooks impersonation when Brooks quietly walked into the room behind him.
“Everyone just sat down and looked at him and Keith said, ‘He’s right behind me, isn’t he?’” Guerin said. “We were worried, because we’d heard the stories of him making his players skate sprints during the 1980 Olympics, that he was going to snap. But he just smiled and said, ‘Not bad, T.K.’
“I think that ended up helping us a lot because we played looser during the tournament.”
Mason is one of the most decorated coaches in the history of college hockey.
He got his start at Lake Superior State University in 1966, winning an NAIA National Title 1972. That year, he helped architect the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, which named its championship trophy after him in 2001.
In 1973, he moved to Bowling Green State University, where he laid the foundation for a team that was one of the most dominant in college hockey in the late 1970s and 1980s. He left Bowling Green for Michigan State University in 1979, and remained with the Spartans as head coach until he retired in 2002.
In his 36 years, he won 924 games — second all-time, a record that was only broken this year by Jerry York, Mason’s successor at Bowling Green and current Boston College coach.
He won an NCAA title with Michigan State in 1986, and was CCHA Coach of the Year seven times. He made 22 NCAA Tournament appearances — three with Bowling Green, 18 with Michigan State. Following his coaching career, he served as Michigan State’s athletic director for five years, and is currently a senior advisor for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League.
“In my situation, I was fortunate to be at three schools where hockey was important,” Mason said. “I had a great deal of support from all those schools, and I got to know so many people over the years through the game. It went by so quick, now that I look back at it now.”