Dino Ciccarelli’s final honour as a professional hockey player mirrored his very first one.
Ciccarelli, who played 1,232 games for five different NHL clubs and scored 608 goals is finally in the Hockey Hall of Fame, waiting a little longer for this honour just like he did some 30 years ago when he first got into the league.
He joins Angela James and Cammi Granato, two pioneers of the women’s hockey movement in Canada and the U.S. respectively who go in as the first women inducted into the Hall, as well as former Detroit Red Wings GM Jimmy Devellano and Regina native Daryl “Doc” Seaman who goes in posthumously in the builders category as members of the 2010 class. Seaman is credited with making the move from Atlanta to Calgary possible for the Flames.
‘Breaking my leg’
For Ciccarelli, the wait was long — he retired following the 1999-2000 season and was eligible three years after that — but then so too was the wait just to get into the NHL.
“I guess the way my career started, breaking my leg and then going through a couple of drafts and not being selected and then Lou Nanne giving me an opportunity with what was pretty much a broken-leg contract ... I guess this kind of worked out the same way I kind of came into the league,” Ciccarelli said.
But having been through the process of getting his hopes up and then having them dashed the last handful of years, Ciccarelli said he purposely tried not to get too excited this year.
He was working in the Detroit area and was aware approximately what time a phone call would come that would put him in the Hall of Fame.
Even when it was a little earlier than expected, one look at the familiar Toronto area code on the incoming call, told Ciccarelli his long wait was over.
His one regret is that those not around anymore were not there to share the moment with him.
“I just lost my Mom a few months ago, my Dad few years ago,” Ciccarelli said. “It would have been nice for them to be around — but I know they will be down there (in Toronto) watching with a big smile on their face when I do go in.”
Ciccarelli and the four others inducted yesterday will officially join the hockey greats already enshrined on Nov. 8 in Toronto.
He goes in as the only player other than Dave Andreychuk to score over 600 goals who began the year on the outside looking in.
Ciccarelli never won a Cup, although he did play in two finals, a point he suggested may have been part of the reason for the long wait.
But if there were any hard feelings about that wait, Ciccarelli wasn’t expressing them on Tuesday.
“It makes me feel like a kid, makes me feel like I did when I first got into the game,” Ciccarelli said.
Among those still waiting and thought to have strong cases for entry are one-time Maple Leafs Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour from the players side. On the building side, the one name thought to have a chance based on some pressure from the public was former Leafs coach Pat Burns.
The push for Burns came from the fans, some 70,000 who signed a Facebook petition hoping to get Burns inducted before his illness takes him.
Jim Gregory, the vice chairman of the selection committee politely declined to comment on any of the unsuccessful would-be Hall of Famers saying it is selection policy that only the successful bids be discussed.