In introducing the honourees to the 54th induction dinner press conference yesterday, host Barb MacDonald said she went in search of words to collectively describe the class of 2009.
"I kept coming up with words that started with 'e'. Exceptional. Energetic. Enthusiastic. Enduring. Exemplary. And, of course, that other 'e' word -- Edmonton."
The three most prominent inductees to last night's Canadian Sports Hall of Fame affair in Toronto were Mark Messier, Warren Moon and Hugh Campbell.
In his remarks upon introduction at the teleconferenced event, it was Moon who put it all together.
"It's unique for me to go in with Hugh and Mark. Even though it's a special honour to be inducted with this entire group, to be inducted with Mark and Hugh because we have a history together."
It kind of made you wonder why this dinner was being held in Toronto rather than Edmonton. The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame is currently in boxes in storage and soon to be moved to the Canada Olympic Park complex in Calgary.
Minister Lindsay Blackett even went to the event to deliver a cheque on behalf of the provincial government to make that happen.
Whatever, the three going in together was indeed special stuff. They were the glory of their times in the same town at the same time.
"You don't entirely recognize it when you're going through it," said Moon, expanding on his comments of the era which put the City of Champions signs up outside of town.
"But it's amazing to look back on it now. It was so special. It becomes more and more special with every year that passes because nobody has come close to matching it in any sport in any city since," he said of the five-in-a-row Grey Cup Eskimos and the five time Stanley Cup champion Oilers.
"When you look at a city 350 miles north of the U.S. border having that much success at the same time in history ... it's amazing.
"And we fed off each other's success. I went to a lot of games and became a hockey fan. I didn't know a lot about hockey, but I could see that Mark, Wayne Gretzky of course, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe and all those guys were head and shoulders above anybody even before they started winning their Stanley Cups."
Moon said one thing made it extra satisfying.
"I am not a Canadian citizen. That's the thing that makes this unique to me," said the only player to be inducted to both the Canadian and U.S. Football Halls of Fame.
"We did some things as a team and I'm sure that's the reason I'm here today."
Campbell said he didn't come to the CFL as Gluey Hughie Campbell of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, win five Grey Cups in a row as coach of the Eskimos or go on to make it 10 Grey Cups total as GM/CEO, with the dream of making it into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
"This certainly wasn't a target for me," he said. "But it's a wonderful look back at a journey.
"It really was a special time. Something that was so fascinating was that with both teams it was really like they were doing it for Edmonton.
"And the most remarkable thing of all, to me, was the way both teams looked at a much bigger picture than teams generally look at as teams. Normally you are trying to win one championship. In both cases these two teams both wanted to be the best teams ever."
Messier, also in a cellphone interview, said with him growing up in St. Albert, the Eskimos were special to him as a kid.
"I grew up on the lore of Jackie Parker and Normie Kwong. When the Oilers entered the NHL in 1979 and started having our own success, it didn't seem unusual to me to be going to each others' games because I'd been doing it since I was a kid. It was great to hang out with those guys.
"But looking back on the successes we both had it was amazing that we didn't have any animosity or jealousy. We shared in each others successes. And both teams made sure the fans shared in those successes. Both teams share those Cups with the city like no teams have ever shared Cups with a city."
It's too bad the city couldn't have shared last night with them.