Former Red Wings Vaclav Nedomansky and Jim Rutherford were part of a six-member class who were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
The others were four-time Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser, former NHL players Sergei Zubov and Guy Carbonneau and sports builder Jerry York.
Nedomansky helped Czechoslovakia earn the 1968 Olympic silver medal and the 1972 world championship.
He was the first player to defect from the other side of the Iron Curtain, started in the World Hockey Association and went on to record 278 points in 421 NHL games with the Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Rangers.
“When I made the decision in ‘74 to finish my dream, I jumped right into it and I’m so happy I did that,” Nedomansky said.
Rutherford, a longtime general manager of Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, built teams that won the Cup in 2006, 2016 and 2017 and will be inducted in the builders’ category.
He is one of two GMs in NHL history to win the Cup with two different teams. Rutherford, who played 10 years in Detroit with a 97-165-43 record and a 3.69 GAA in 314 games, recalled going to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto as a kid and how surreal it is to become a part of it.
“It was day where I thought, ‘Man, this is really special,’” Rutherford said. “Now here I am.”
Wickenheiser was a lock to make the Hockey Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility.
In 79 international games over 21 seasons, Wickenheiser recorded 58 goals and 88 assists for 146 points. She won four Olympic gold medals, seven world championship golds, one Olympic silver and six world championship silvers.
Wickenheiser on Nov. 18 will be the seventh woman to go into the hall, joining Canadians Angela James, Geraldine Heaney, Danielle Goyette and Jayna Hefford and Americans Cammi Granato and Angela Ruggiero.
“It is richly deserved that she is one of the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame,” chairman Lanny McDonald said.
“When you win seven world championships as one of the key players and captain and when you win four Olympic gold medals, have a storied career both on the women’s side and play on the men’s side in Finland, that should tell you in itself where she was looked upon and revered by the rest of the hockey world.”
Wickenheiser won three Women’s World Hockey League titles and a Canadian Women’s Hockey League title. She was invited by the Philadelphia Flyers to training camp in 1998 after the Nagano Olympics, and Wickenheiser is currently assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
She was unavailable to reporters Tuesday because she was finishing up final exams at medical school.
Zubov put up 888 points in 1,232 NHL games for the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers and won the Stanley Cup twice. The Russian defenseman also won the 1992 Olympic gold medal and 1989 world junior gold medal and waited seven years for this call.
“Olympics, Stanley Cups — this one is truly special,” Zubov said. “You realize you’ve done something in your life that you can be proud of.”
Carbonneau was a teammate of Zubov’s on the 1999 NHL champion Stars and also won the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and 1993. He was a three-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s best defensive forward.
“Just to be on the same list as guys like Jean Beliveau, Guy LaFleur and Wayne Gretzky, it’s unbelievable,” Carbonneau said.
York coached Bowling Green and Boston College to five national titles and has the most wins of any active NCAA Division I men’s hockey coach. He said he was flabbergasted by his election to the hall and thought he was getting a robocall Tuesday when the Hall of Fame was trying to reach him.
“I had to sit down I was so excited,” York said.
Among those passed over by the selection committee this year were former Red Wings Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Osgood as well as Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind’Amour and Alexander Mogilny.