The Hockey Hall of Fame will open its doors to a former Maple Leaf come November, but it's not the guy many expected.
With Patrick Roy being the lone slam dunk candidate in this year's class, it was believed local fan favourite Doug Gilmour had as good a shot as anyone else to be inducted.
But few could have predicted the likes of Gilmour, Pavel Bure, Glenn Anderson and Dino Ciccarelli would be passed over in favour of Dick Duff, a member of the 1962 and '63 Maple Leaf Stanley Cup teams who has been eligible for the Hall for more than 30 years.
Joining Roy and Duff in the Class of 2006 are the late Herb Brooks, whose accomplishments included coaching the 1980 Miracle on Ice US Olympic team; and Harley Hotchkiss, part-owner of the Calgary Flames and chairman of the NHL's board of governors.
Duff, 70, admitted being close to weeping when informed of his selection.
"It was a great journey,"said Duff, who was eating breakfast at a hotel in his home town of Kirkland Lake when he received word of his induction. "This means a lot to me, just like playing hockey meant a lot to me."
Duff scored 283 regular-season goals during his illustrious career.
But it was the post-season where Duff really shone, scoring 30 playoff goals during his run of six Cups, including four with the Montreal Canadiens.
Duff's selection is certain to spark debate, especially since he was picked over Gilmour, the 16th highest scorer in NHL history, and Bure, who cracked the 60-goal plateau twice.
"I'm proud of my career numbers," Gilmour, who racked up 1,420 regular-season points during his 20-year career, said last night. "Hopefully, one day I'll have a chance."
With consensus shoo-ins Ron Francis, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis and Mark Messier eligible next year, Gilmour might be in for a wait.
That certainly was not the case for Roy, the NHL's career leader in victories among goaltenders.
Roy yesterday recalled his first day in the Habs dressing room in 1984. He still remembers staring in admiration at the photos of Canadiens Hall of Famers like Maurice (The Rocket) Richard and Jean Beliveau.
Now he has joined them in the Hall.
"It was a great career," the 40-year-old Roy said.
"It was fun ... and I'm happy to still be involved in hockey today."
Roy, a four-time Cup winner, continued his winning ways this season by coaching the Canadian Hockey League's Quebec Ramparts to a Memorial Cup title.
"I don't know if one day I'll be in the NHL, but you never know," Roy said when asked about his coaching future.