In Toronto, November’s annual Hockey Hall of Fame weekend is a very big deal.
The festivities span four days, culminating with Monday’s induction celebration, which will be broadcast on TSN in Canada and NHL Network in the U.S. (8 p.m. ET).
On Friday afternoon, the 2023 inductees received their rings and saw their commemorative plaques mounted in the Great Hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame building in downtown Toronto.
Friday night, the honorees took part in the opening faceoff at the Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Scotiabank Arena — a 5-4 shootout win for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the visiting Calgary Flames.
On Saturday, inductees returned to the Great Hall for a chat with fans. Then, on Sunday, the members will receive their Hall of Fame jackets in a special ceremony ahead of the annual Legends game, where 2023 honorees Pierre Turgeon and Caroline Ouellette will skate for a team captained by 2012 inductee Adam Oates and coached by 2023 inductee Ken Hitchcock against a squad led by 2011 honoree Joe Nieuwendyk that will feature 2023 inductee Henrik Lundqvist in net.
At 41, Lundqvist will be the only one of the three goaltenders in this year’s class who will strap on the pads. He concluded his 887-game playing career with the New York Rangers in 2020 before a heart ailment forced him to hang up his goalie mask.
Mike Vernon, now 60, retired in 2002 after 781 games and a pair of Stanley Cup wins with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and the Detroit Red Wings in 1997. Tom Barrasso, 58, won back-to-back Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He played 777 games before calling it a day in 2003.
This year marks the first time since 1962 that three goaltenders are being inducted in the same class. There are now a total of 44 goalies in the Hall of Fame.
Four other hockey luminaries are also being honored in the Class of 2023:
A four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team Canada, Caroline Ouellette also has six world championship gold medals and six silvers in her trophy case. The Montreal native, now 44, played her college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she wore the captain’s C for two years. She also served as Canada’s captain for her final Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and has worked in coaching since her playing days concluded.
Selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1987, Pierre Turgeon collected 1,327 points over 1,294 NHL games with six different teams over the course of his 19-year career. Known for his nose for the net, his best season came with the New York Islanders in 1992-93, when he put up 58 goals and 134 points and was named the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy.
Turgeon, 54, is one of just three players ever to record at least 300 points with three different franchises (Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues). The other two are Joe Mullen (Flames, Blues, Penguins) and Mark Recchi (Flyers, Penguins, Canadiens).
Winner of a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year with the St. Louis Blues in 2012, Hitchcock is a rare example of a successful NHL head coach who didn’t play hockey at a high level himself.
Now 71, Hitchcock worked his way up to the NHL through junior hockey. With the Kamloops Blazers, he won a WHL title and two coach of the year honors, as well as CHL coach of the year in 1990, before he joined the Philadelphia Flyers in an assistant’s role. In 1993, he transitioned to a head-coaching role in the now-defunct International Hockey League, which set him up to become a mid-season replacement for the Stars during the 1995-96 season.
Less than four years later, he had his Stanley Cup ring. And his NHL career continued for 22 years, with stops on five different teams, before he retired in 2019.
Hitchcock’s 849 career wins rank him fourth all-time among NHL coaches, behind only Scotty Bowman (1,244), Joel Quenneville (969) and Barry Trotz (914). His career winning percentage of .531 also ranks him fifth all-time among coaches with at least 1,000 NHL games on their resumes.
After starting his career as a player agent, Pierre Lacroix took over as general manager of the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, one year before the franchise relocated to Denver.
Less than two months after the Colorado Avalanche first hit the ice, Lacroix engineered the blockbuster trade that brought legendary goaltender Patrick Roy to the team. The elite stopper augmented an already strong talent base, leading to Stanley Cup wins in 1996 and 2001.
In total, Lacroix spent 19 years with the Nordiques/Avalanche organization. The club’s .623 winning percentage during his 10 years as general manager ranks second all time among GMs with at least 800 games on their resumes — behind only Sam Pollock of the Montreal Canadiens (.685).
Lacroix’s son, Eric, was a left wing who played 452 NHL games, including three seasons with the Avalanche. Pierre died in 2020, at age 72.