The Hockey Hall of Fame officially welcomed four new members, as Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Howe were inducted as the Class of 2011 in a ceremony.
The four were presented their rings Monday morning at the Hall of Fame.
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.
"I'm proud and honored to receive this recognition and will treasure this weekend for the rest of my life," said Belfour. "I've been truly blessed with many awards and championships. I attribute this to all my God-given talents and all the great people I've come in contact with that have supported me."
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.
"To all the coaches; thank you for putting up with all my practical jokes before games," said Gilmour. "I needed that because I was nervous. The coaches, I'm not going to mention them all tonight, what you guys taught me and taught me how to compete each and every night, that to me is something that I will never ever forget."
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.
"On the night of my last collegiate hockey game, a few of us were sitting around trying to raise enough money to buy some pizzas," Nieuwendyk shared. "The next night I found myself joining the Calgary Flames in New York City, eating $70 pasta with Lanny McDonald and John Tonelli. And I quickly learned what the term 'kid, you're in for a full share' meant. My pro career had officially started."
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.
Howe's speech was highlighted by a tribute to his father.
"You mentioned that you wished I would have worn your number 9 Red Wings jersey for just one game," Mark directed to father, Gordie. "You've never asked me for anything ever in your life time, so I'd like to honour your request at this time on a much bigger stage."
Howe then placed a number 9 Red Wings jersey over his suit.
The 18-member Hockey Hall of Fame committee chose the foursome from amongst a deep field of candidates that also included Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Theo Fleury, John LeClair, and Phil Housley.
Next year's class of candidates will see Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Brendan Shanahan on the ballot for the first time.