CALGARY - About the only sadness that could be found over news both Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame was the fact Harley Hotchkiss wasn’t around to see it.
Hotchkiss, the former Calgary Flames part-owner — who was inducted into the Hall in 2006 — died last week, but would have dearly love to see those two players get their day.
After all, they were integral parts of the 1989 Stanley Cup championship team.
“Yeah, but I can guarantee you Harley’s up there smiling, because with Harley it was always about family and they were a couple of his boys,” said Lanny McDonald.
The funeral to celebrate Hotchkiss’s life will be Wednesday, and news Nieuwendyk and Gilmour will join the growing list of people involved with that team in the Hall of Fame will add some joy.
Gilmour and Nieuwendyk join McDonald, Al MacInnis and Joe Mullen from that team to be part of the special club, along with Hotchkiss, Doc Seaman, two of the owners, and general manager Cliff Fletcher.
“I’m ecstatic for both of them,” Fletcher said. “To have both of them get in the same day, I’m over the moon. I’m excited for both of them. They’re great hockey players and both are very, very deserving.”
The latest inductions prove how strong the 1989 team was.
“That just confirms the general manager couldn’t screw it up,” Fletcher said with a laugh.
“It’s special having five players, plus Harley Hotchkiss and Doc Seaman. We had a great team not just that one year. Over six years, from 1985 to 1991, we had the most points of any team in the league, two Presidents’ Trophies, one Stanley Cup and lost out in another final.
“It was truly a great hockey team.”
McDonald, who was co-captain of the 1989 team, remembers a conversation with Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts years ago.
“When you win the Cup so early in your career, you think, ‘We’ll go back out and win four or five more.’ Roberts was never able to win one, but Nieuwendyk, to his credit, won three with three different teams,” McDonald said. “The points he put up, the goals, winning goals, was incredible.”
As for Gilmour, McDonald will always remember and rave about his determination.
“He played much bigger than he was,” said McDonald of the player who was listed as being 175-lb. “In ’89, He might have weighed 155 at the end, and you would have thought he was 220 when he was on the ice. He pretended he was 220 pounds when he played the bigger guys.
“He would compete with anybody and never shied away.
“Both those guys didn’t play on the outside, they played in the middle and went to the net as hard as they could.”