Hall of Fame Buzz: St. Louis recalls surprise text from Lemieux

Welcome to the 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. The four-day celebration features the Hall of Fame game, a fan Q&A with honorees, a legends game and the inductions of the Class of 2018: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL diversity ambassador Willie O’Ree in the Builders category, and former players Martin Brodeur, Jayna Hefford, Martin St. Louis and Alexander Yakushev. 

Here is the latest buzz from Toronto:

St. Louis got super surprise from Super Mario

When Martin St. Louis was informed that he’d been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on June 26, the phone call was followed by a text message from an unfamiliar number congratulating him. 

“I got a text message from a Mario,” said St. Louis, who will be inducted with the Class of 2018 on Monday. “I was like, ‘Mario?’ ” 

St. Louis quickly realized it was from Mario Lemieux, his idol and, come Monday, fellow Hall of Famer. He said the texter’s identity was given away partly because the phone number contained Lemieux’s jersey number, 66.

“I didn’t have him saved in my phone, so when he signed Mario, I’m like, ‘Mario, who is Mario?’ ” St. Louis said. “That was pretty cool that Mario took time and texted me.”

St. Louis said he wrote back to the former Pittsburgh Penguins center and current owner, who was inducted in 1997. The conversation lasted for several more texts.

“I said, ‘Thank you so much, so great to hear from you,’ ” he said. “I was happy I got a chance to play with Mario (with Canada) in the [2004] World Cup [of Hockey]. I mean, he was my idol.”

The other plus: St. Louis has Lemieux’s number saved in his phone.

— Dan Rosen

Ring ceremony wows honorees

The ring ceremony Friday made quite an impact on the recipients to start the weekend.

Each of this year’s six honorees received a ring from Hall of Fame chairman Lanny MacDonald and spent several seconds staring at it on his or her finger.

“To get this, you have to be in here,” Martin St. Louis said, pointing at his ring and then looking around at the plaques adorning the Great Hall. “This, the jacket, you have to be part of this club. So, for me, that is the sign of what club you are a part of. You look around and it is unbelievable.

“Being here, I don’t think, ‘Oh look at everything I did.’ It’s more like, ‘Look who is in here. Look who is in here and now I am a part of that.’ To me, that says it all. It’s not, I won this and I won that. There are players in here that my dad used to talk to me about when I was a little kid, Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur. I’m watching ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ every Saturday with my dad when I was a kid. Now, I’m in here, it’s weird.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman received his ring first and was looking at it with awe as Martin Brodeur sat next to him. They examined each other’s ring and whispered back and forth with huge smiles. 

“There’s not many of those out there,” Brodeur said of the rings. “There’s so many people that played the game, so many people that go through the NHL. This is the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame, so there are a lot of people out there. Getting a ring like that means you are part of the select few. I was kind of comparing it to if you are a big golfer and you get a green jacket, you are part of a club. This is pretty cool, the ultimate for hockey.”

Commissioner Bettman said, “There aren’t very many of these and you can’t go to the store to buy one. To be given this ring tells you that you are being considered in the same class as all the wonderful people who have given to this game that are on these plaques that are surrounding us. It’s a recognition that you are part of this great Hall. It’s overwhelming.”   

— Shawn P. Roarke

Yakushev: Henderson, Mogilny worthy of Hall

Alexander Yakushev, a member of the Class of 2018, would like to see Paul Henderson, a former rival, join him in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day.

Henderson was the star of the 1972 Summit Series, scoring the winning goal in each of the final three games for Canada against Yakushev and the Soviet Union. Canada won the series 4-3-1.

“Paul Henderson was definitely the key player for Canada’s team,” Yakushev said Friday. “He was basically the killer of the Russian team. His three goals in the last three games were very significant and I think he definitely deserves to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — 100 percent.”

Yakushev said Alexander Mogilny belongs in the Hall, especially because his former junior linemates, Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov, are already in. Mogilny had 1,032 points (473 goals, 559 assists) in 990 NHL games.

“Alexander was a great player. One of the great Russian players,” Yakushev said. “He didn’t play much in Russia, he went to Buffalo early in his career. But he definitely deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame because he’s one of the best players of all time.”

— Mike Zeisberger