There are no readily available statistics for this but it is hard to imagine another Hockey Hall of Fame class beating the 2013 inductees for the total number of major championships they won – 31.
That is one big load of hardware for the five members of this year’s class, who will be formally inducted into The Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. Scott Niedermayer leads the way with 10 championships: Four Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, one world junior gold, a World Cup of Hockey title, one world championship and one Memorial Cup. The former New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks defenceman is the only player to have won all six major North American and international hockey championships.
Another former defenceman, who won five championships and played more NHL seasons than anyone except Gordie Howe, shook his head at the thought of all those titles after this year’s Hall of Fame class was introduced to the media on Friday.
“To me, it’s just crazy I ended up here,” said Chris Chelios, who played 26 NHL seasons, the same as Howe, and was 48 years old when he retired, second to Howe (52) as the oldest player to play in the NHL. “It’s still amazing to me, sitting here with all these great athletes.”
Over all those years in the game with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers, Chelios won three Stanley Cups, a World Cup of Hockey and an NCAA title.
Second to Niedermayer in the number of major championships is another defenceman with eight. Geraldine Heaney has seven world championships and one Olympic gold. She is also the third woman elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Angela James and Cammi Granato.
Rounding out the championship class are Brendan Shanahan with six (three Stanley Cups, one world championship, one Olympic gold and one Canada Cup) and the only builder in this year’s class, the late Fred Shero, who coached the Philadelphia Flyers to two Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975.
Unlike Chelios, who said he had no idea it was coming when the Hall of Fame called to say he was in, Niedermayer was told by the Ducks public-relations staff which day the call might come. He was vacationing with his wife at the time and immediately thought of his parents, who spent countless hours shuttling him and his younger brother Rob, who also made the NHL, to hockey games around their hometown of Cranbrook, B.C.
“Hockey was a big part of the culture in Cranbrook,” said Niedermayer, who is now an assistant coach with the Ducks. “It paid off for me.”
Heaney was also caught by surprise when she got the news and then couldn’t find anyone to share it with except her four-year-old son, who was not impressed.
When the call came, Heaney was just heading to a workout and her son told her not to answer her cell phone. She tried to explain the news to him “but he didn’t understand,” so “then I tried my husband, my dad, my mom. I couldn’t get any of them. So I texted my sister and told her you’ve got to call me right now.”
Fred Shero’s son Ray, who is the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins with a Stanley Cup of his own, was playing football with his kids on the beach at Hilton Head, S.C. His wife told him someone from the 416 area code had just called his cell phone several times in 10 minutes.
“I thought maybe it was [Toronto Maple Leafs GM] Dave Nonis trying to make a huge trade,” Ray Shero said. “It sure wasn’t that.”