Hall night: Seen and heard from Toronto

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
10:26
PM ET

Here are some news and notes from Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto:

Howe's moment

Mark Howe had some powerful words at the beginning of his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech Monday night, when he implored those in power to ensure that the families left behind from September's KHL plane crash are taken care of monetarily.

Howe lost good friend and former blue-line partner Brad McCrimmon, who was in his first season as coach of the Lokomotiv team.

Howe ended his speech by pulling on a No. 9 Gordie Howe Red Wings jersey. What a special moment.

Of course, Howe shared the spotlight with his famous father, Mr. Hockey, all weekend long. Hey, he's used to it.

"As you see, we're doing interviews and he has a much bigger crowd than I," Mark Howe said Monday morning, gesturing at the larger scrum of media around his dad about six feet away. "The first day in the hotel, 50 people came up and asked for autographs. They all asked for Gordie while Marty and I just sat there.

"That comes with the territory, that's so much of what my mother helped her four children to deal with. ... He's aware of what goes on, he wants me to deserve all the credit and get all the credit and be honored for this weekend. He doesn't want to distract from that. It means far more to me having him around than anything else."

CuJo in the house

Former star goalie Curtis Joseph attended the Hall induction gala Monday night after getting a ticket from none other than Doug Gilmour.

"I never played with him, but I did help him get to the Hall of Fame," Joseph said with a laugh. "So I thought I should be here."

Joseph, of course, was referring to the dramatic overtime goal Gilmour scored on Joseph in the Toronto-St. Louis playoff series in 1993.

Belfour's call

Hockey Hall officials couldn't get a hold of Belfour in June to tell him of the great news. He was napping. He plays defense in a men's hockey league in Dallas and still naps on game days.

"I usually still take a pregame nap even though it's just men's league," he said with a laugh Monday. "I was taking a nap that day and no one could get a hold of me. Somehow they got a hold of my brother-in-law. He had a key for the house and came in and woke me up. It was pretty neat."

Much was made about Belfour's leather jacket/no suit approach to the pregame ceremony Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. Well, obviously someone got to him because he was wearing a suit Monday. He admitted he had to buy a shirt and tie for the ceremony while in Toronto. He says he doesn't wear suits any more.

"Nope, not anymore, just for special occasions," said Belfour. "I still have some old suits, but they don't fit."

Gilmour, the prankster

Doug Gilmour was a Jekyll-and-Hyde character during his playing days -- fierce as anyone on the ice, and a total jokester off of it. His fellow inductee Joe Nieuwendyk talked about showing up to the rink when they were teammates in Calgary and Gilmour had put shoe polish on the toilet seats in the dressing room.

For Gilmour, he needed that comical side as a release because of how intense he was during games.

"And I'm glad I'm not playing now because I know I wouldn't get by with some of the things I did on the ice," Gilmour said. "Yes, there's a lot of things I did wrong out there, but that's how I had to play. But I'd come to the rink at 4 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. game and I'd just think of what I needed to do to get everybody [practical jokes]. I was easy-going until warm-up. Once warm-up started, it was game on."

Ringing endorsement

Nieuwendyk was asked about his Dallas Stars and their surprising start during his media availability Monday. The Stars GM said it starts behind the bench with rookie coach Glen Gulutzan.

"I truly believe the coach we have now is going to be a like a Barry Trotz, a 10-year guy that we're going to be talking about," said Nieuwendyk.

High praise, indeed.

Gretzky's special message

Our good friend and colleague Terry Jones of The Edmonton Sun was inducted into the Hall on Monday as the winner of the Elmer Ferguson Award. At the end of the media luncheon honoring Jones and Detroit Red Wings color man Mickey Redmond (Foster Hewitt Award winner this year), host Gord Stellick read an email Wayne Gretzky sent earlier in the day in honor of Jones.

    Over the years, the game of hockey has had the good fortune to have great players go into the Hall (Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Rocket Richard), and some of the best coaches ever (Toe Blake, Glen Sather and Scotty Bowman)," Gretzky wrote. "But it has been just as important for the game to have people be able to talk about the game to the average hockey fan who loves the game as much as anyone.

    People like Foster Hewitt, Danny Gallivan, Red Fisher brought the game to life each and every day. That is exactly what Terry Jones has done each and every day for the hockey fans of Edmonton. He lived and died every playoff win and loss, gloating after big wins and reassuring Oiler fans after a tough loss the next game would be better. An honor well deserved; congratulations on being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Welcome, it's a wonderful place to hang your hat.

    Your friend,
    Wayne Gretzky

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