The class also included defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, both of whom saw long waits end; Canadian goaltender Kim St-Pierre in the women’s category; and Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland in the builder category.
Iginla is one of the most respected players in recent NHL history and considered one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. He will be the fourth Black player inducted, after Grant Fuhr, women’s hockey pioneer Angela James and Willie O’Ree. Iginla and Fuhr are the only Black NHL players enshrined for their on-ice accomplishments, while O’Ree was chosen in the builder category in 2018 for breaking the league’s color barrier 60 years earlier.
“Growing up, I loved playing hockey. I didn’t view myself as a Black hockey player, but I was also aware that I was,” Iginla said. “My mom was just reminding me today of a picture I took with Grant Fuhr when I was 10 and he was in his early 20s. It’s pretty neat to think that he got to the Hall of Fame, and I got there with him. If there are other minorities, other Black kids growing up seeing that it’s possible, it’ll be special to other kids like it was to me.”
Iginla’s 625 career goals ranks him 16th all time in the NHL, and he ranks 34th with 1,300 points in 1,554 career games between 1996 and 2017 with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings. Iginla led the league in points and goals in 2001-02, winning the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s player of the year award. He would lead the league in goals again in 2003-04.
His international achievements are just as sterling: two Olympic gold medals with Canada in men’s ice hockey, including the primary assist on Sidney Crosby‘s overtime “Golden Goal” to win the 2010 Vancouver Games. He also won gold at the IIHF world championships in 1997, gold at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and gold in the 1996 world junior championships. Iginla, however, never saw his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
“This selection is hard to believe and makes me reflect and look back on my career,” Iginla said. “I was always just trying to make the NHL, and this recognition means a lot to me and my family.”
There was little debate about whether Hossa would be in the Hall of Fame, but his status as a first-ballot choice — typically reserved for superstar players and those who amassed a slew of NHL awards — was a mild surprise.
Hossa joins 2015 inductee Chris Pronger as the only players to go into the Hall while still under contract. Like Pronger, Hossa qualified because he hasn’t played in three years. He retired in 2018 because of a skin disorder.
Hossa had 525 career goals and 1,134 career points, and had 89 points in 110 playoff games, which included five trips to the Stanley Cup Final, winning three times with the Chicago Blackhawks. Considered one of the best defensive wingers of his generation, Hossa played 1,309 games with the Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Penguins and Detroit Red Wings.
“This is an amazing day for me and my family. I never thought I would have [this] amazing career,” Hossa said. “My dream came true when I won [my] first Stanley Cup and this is definitely something special, to be [among] the top players and people in the National Hockey League.”
Lowe had been eligible since 2001. He played 1,254 games in the NHL, winning five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty and a sixth one with the New York Rangers in 1994. Considered a defensive defenseman and a backbone of those teams, Lowe was given a hearty endorsement by former teammate Wayne Gretzky at the 2018 Hall of Fame induction.
“It was never fun to play against Kevin. He was one of the most reliable defensemen you could imagine,” said Lanny McDonald, the Hockey Hall of Fame president and former Calgary great. “But we all knew he was leader of the pack. Yes, they had Gretzky, they had [Jari] Kurri, they had [Mark] Messier, they had [Glenn] Anderson and they had Fuhr. But every time something happened — and we had all kinds of battles between Calgary and Edmonton — Kevin Lowe was in the thick of it.”
Wilson had an even longer wait. The current general manager of the San Jose Sharks, Wilson has been eligible since 1996. He won the Norris Trophy in 1982 with Chicago and was a top-four finisher for the award three other times. His offensive numbers rank among the greatest ever among defensemen: an 0.81 points-per-game average that ranks ninth among defensemen with at least 650 games played. He was a model of consistency for about 11 seasons but overshadowed by Hall of Famers such as Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Rod Langway.
“It was a pleasant shock, and that’s an understatement,” Wilson said. “The timing? I didn’t even think about it. It never meant a thing to me.”
St-Pierre had the most appearances and wins as a goalie for the Canadian women’s national team. She won three Olympic gold medals with Canada and five more in the IIHF world championships. She became one of only three women at the time to win a Clarkson Cup — the championship in the defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League — a world title and an Olympic title. She was the first woman to win a men’s regular-season game in Canadian Interuniversity Sport history with McGill in 2003.
“It’s quite the honor, especially as a goalie,” she said. “I need to thank my parents. I used to be a figure skater. Then one day I saw Patrick Roy playing for the Canadiens, and wanted to be a goalie. I want to thank my parents because they said [they would] support me, even if I was the only girl playing on the team.”
Holland, currently the general manager of the Oilers, was the GM of the Red Wings from 1997 through 2014. He facilitated a Red Wings run of playoff appearances and championships that included Stanley Cup wins in 1998, 2002 and 2008. During his tenure in Detroit, his team won more combined regular-season and playoff games (1,044) than any other NHL franchise. Holland also was instrumental behind the scenes in the NHL, helping bring to life such concepts as 3-on-3 overtime.
Among the players still waiting for their call to the Hall of Fame: forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Alexander Mogilny, Rod Brind’Amour and Jeremy Roenick; defenseman Sergei Gonchar; and goaltenders Tom Barrasso and Curtis Joseph. Next year’s class could include first-year-eligible Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 16 in Toronto, but it’s unclear whether it will happen. The NHL still is working on trying to resume its season after suspending play in March, with the playoffs potentially extending into October and delaying the start of next season until December or January.
The 18-member selection committee voted remotely for the first time because of travel difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Those living in the Toronto area met in a conference room to determine the inductees, who got congratulatory calls from chairman of the board Lanny McDonald.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.