Ed Belfour was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on his first try on Tuesday, and will enter the shrine along with fellow one-time Toronto Maple Leafs Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk. Defenceman Mark Howe was also elected to the Class of 2011, which will be inducted on Nov. 14 in Toronto.
The 18-member Hockey Hall of Fame committee chose the foursome from amongst a deep field of candidates. Among those who will have to wait at least another year are Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Theo Fleury, John LeClair, and Phil Housley.
The committee also chose not to elect anyone in the Builders' Category for the first time since 1981. It was just the sixth time since 1950 that no Builders were included.
And after the election of Cammi Granato and Angela James last year, no additional women were selected for induction this time around.
Belfour is third all-time in goalie wins with 484, and twice won the Vezina Trophy. He also captured the Calder Trophy with Chicago and claimed the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. Five of the six goalies directly behind him on the wins list are already in the Hall of Fame.
"It is hard to put into words what this means to me," said Belfour. "I would like to thank all of my teammates and people along the way who helped me achieve my hockey dreams."
Gilmour, with 1,414 points over 20 seasons, was a Selke Trophy winner who was known for his gutsy playoff performances. He is part of an exclusive group of players who averaged more points per game during the playoffs (1.15) than the regular season (.96), and is seventh all-time in playoff scoring. A natural leader, Gilmour captained both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.
"This is an overwhelming honour and one that makes me reflect back on the teammates and coaches I have had over the years," said Gilmour. "Larry Mavety, who gave me a chance in Tier II hockey and Gord Wood who drafted me into Junior at Cornwall, are two people who were instrumental in helping me establish myself as a player."
Nieuwendyk, with 564 career goals, goes into the Hall of Fame on his second attempt. He is one of just nine players to have won a Stanley Cup with three different teams, and is the owner of 93 career game-winning goals. Nieuwendyk played for Calgary, Dallas, New Jersey, Toronto, and Florida, and also won Olympic gold for Canada in 2002.
"Every player does their best year after year and strives to play at a very high level," said Nieuwendyk. "I truly love the game and love to compete, and I'm pleased to be honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame."
Howe was a three-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy and twice appeared in the Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers. One of Gordie Howe's hockey-playing sons, Mark Howe netted 1,246 points over 22 seasons split between the World Hockey Association and the NHL. Howe was a six-time NHL all-star.
"I was elated to have this dream come true given that it is a tremendous honour just to have my name mentioned with the upper echelon of hockey," said Howe. "To actually have my name in the Hall of Fame with my Dad will mean so much to my family."
Next year's class of candidates will see Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Markus Naslund on the ballot for the first time.