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LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

The Hockey Hall Of Fame is welcoming two of the purest scorers in the game, as well as recognizing one man's off-ice efforts that still shape the sport.

Cam Neely of the Boston Bruins and the late Valeri Kharlamov are joining the players' wing and Murray Costello is being honoured as a builder. Celebrations will occur throughout the weekend at the Hall and the Air Canada Centre, capped by the Hall induction ceremony on Monday night. Valeri's son Alexander will represent him.

There are now 393 honoured members, made up of 232 players, 93 builders and 14 referees and linesmen.

There also are 74 media members, including 2005 honourees Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times and New York broadcaster Sal Messina.

Cam Neely -- Player

Cam Neely still gets a daily reminder of why he never played a full National Hockey League season.

"I have lingering effects with pain in my hip every day," Neely said yesterday on a conference call. "Fortunately, I've been able to prolong replacement (surgery) down the road."

Neely's career lasted from 1983 to 1996, with an aborted comeback in 1999. A hard-hitting right winger with three 50-goal seasons, he suffered from knee injuries and a degenerative hip condition.

At first, he had a hard time reconciling that he wouldn't play into his late 30s, as have fellow 1983 draft picks Steve Yzerman and Dominik Hasek. But at age 40 and headed to the Hall, he is more philosophical.

"Anyone can look at the 'what-ifs' in life from the moment they were born," Neely said. "The way I played the game, it would be shocking if I didn't have injuries. But I was able to help my teammates that way and I enjoyed it. It was easier for me, once I hit an age where I knew I wouldn't be playing any more anyway."

Neely, recently named a team ambassador for the Bruins, has devoted his post-playing days to a cancer foundation in memory of his parents, both claimed by the disease many years ago.

"It's obviously important what my foundation has been able to accomplish," he said. "It outweighs any kind of (playing) career I've had."

Neely lit up junior hockey with the Portland Winter Hawks, but was stuck on the Vancouver Canucks' depth chart behind Tony Tanti and Stan Smyl. Then came a 1986 trade to Boston.

"I got a great opportunity right away, to play well (or sit)," he said. "The style I played was well-suited to the Boston Bruins and the old Garden."

Neely had 694 points in 726 games and a further 89 points in 93 playoff appearances.

Valeri Kharlamov -- Player

Valeri Kharlamov never had it easy against Canadians.

The book Red Machine recalled the late Soviet star was chopped down in the 1972 Summit Series by Bobby Clarke, had his face bloodied by Rick Ley in the 1974 World Hockey Association tour and was clubbed by Ed Van Impe of the Flyers in Super Series '76.

But Kharlamov's bravery, skill and determination earned him ultimate respect from his tormentors. The 5-foot-8 left winger, whom goalie Ken Dryden called "Nureyev on skates" was killed in August of 1981, when the car his wife was learning to drive crashed on a rain-slicked highway near Moscow.

Kharlamov is the third Russian to get in the Hall, joining Vladislav Tretiak and Slava Fetisov. Kharlamov was proud to represent his country and was not intimidated by the Soviet system. He expressed himself freely and chummed around the Moscow theatre community.

"It is important for an athlete to always look at himself with impartial assessment, to look at himself, not with admiration, but with the stern eye of a critic," Kharlamov once said.

He was one of seven new players to join the Soviets at the 1969 world championship; an influential group that would dominate the next decade, including linemates Boris Mikhailov and Vladimir Petrov.

His dramatic goal to break open Game 1 of the Summit Series stunned a nation. When Kharlamov blew past Don Awrey on the outside, faked a backhand and burned Dryden, the entire Canadian bench was in awe.

Kharlamov played 436 regular-season games with 293 goals and 214 assists, while helping Red Army win 11 championships. He participated in 11 world and European championships in a row (eight gold medals) and won two Olympic golds in 1972 and 1976.

Murray Costello -- Builder

Murray Costello has locked horns with everyone from the Soviet-era Russian Ice Hockey Federation to Don Cherry, all in defence of Canadian hockey.

A former NHL player with Boston and Detroit in the 1950s, Costello quit playing to attend law school and became an executive in the Western Hockey League. He was president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (now Hockey Canada) from 1979 until his retirement in 1998.

"Murray had the patience of Job," said John Gardiner, president of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. "He had substantial influence on the game, whether you agreed with his views or not.

"He had a lot of foresight in an age when the game was changing rapidly. Some people tend to want to keep their feet trapped in concrete for 20 years when it comes to change."

Costello promoted elite women's hockey, led campaigns against hitting from behind to stop a rash of neck and spinal injuries and rapped the knuckles of the NHL and the Russians in the late 1980s when the league pumped hundreds of thousands of development dollars overseas to obtain Russian players, while the CAHA's costs ballooned.

"We don't have a golden goose," Costello said at the time. "The NHL is pouring money right into the Soviet system and we end up competing against it."

Costello and the CAHA's attempts to make minor hockey safer and more enjoyable often ran counter to Cherry's rock-'em, sock-'em approach.

"Cherry has a lot of fun for himself, but he doesn't do a lot for the game," Costello said in 1993.


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