TORONTO -- The Hockey Hall of Fame is no longer just for male inductees.
Cammi Granato and Angela James changed that on Tuesday when they became the first women elected to be enshrined in Toronto. Along with former NHL All-Star Dino Ciccarelli, Granato and James will go in as part of the players category during an induction ceremony in November.
While women had always been eligible for induction, the Hall made it easier for them to be voted in when it established a women's subcategory this year.
Up to four male players are eligible for induction annually, but only Ciccarelli was voted in Tuesday. Eric Lindros and Joe Nieuwendyk were potential contenders among NHL players in their first year of eligibility who didn't receive enough support.
Women were given their own player category this year, and James and Granato filled the maximum of two female inductees per year.
"This is a day I never really thought would ever happen," James said. "I'm really honored to represent the female hockey players from all over the world."
Granato played on the U.S. women's hockey team for 15 years and led the club to a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Her brother, Tony, played and coached in the NHL.
"I dreamed of being in the NHL my entire life, and this certainly makes up for those dreams," Granato said. "Being amongst the first women to play at college and later at the Olympics, it certainly was worthwhile being a hockey pioneer."
James was a four-time world champion with the Canadian women's team. She starred in the 1970s and early '80s in the Central Ontario Women's League.
"On behalf of everyone in women's hockey, I am truly honored," the Toronto native said. "As a kid I went to the Hall and was in awe of those who had been inducted. I am delighted to be able to join them."
Ciccarelli played 19 NHL seasons with five teams, recording 608 goals and 592 assists in 1,232 games. In nine seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, he led the team in scoring five times.
"This is a tremendous honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life," Ciccarelli said. "I really appreciate the support of my coaches, the fans and mostly importantly my family throughout my 19-year career."
The 18-member selection committee includes Scotty Bowman, Pat Quinn, Harry Sinden, Serge Savard and Peter Stastny.
Chairman Bill Hay said he wasn't worried about a perceived imbalance of male and female players entering the Hall this year when there are so many retired NHL players lined up for induction.
"The selection committee at no time are concerned about the new inductees," he said. "It's time for females to be in. Changing the voting regulations to accommodate under the player category for two women, and the maximum of four players who are male, really fits with our long-range plan."
James, dubbed "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," was the top scorer for eight seasons and MVP for six in the Central Ontario Women's League. James was also MVP at eight Canadian championships.
She recorded 34 points for Canada in 20 games over the first four world championships in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997. James scored 11 goals in the inaugural tournament in 1990 when the Canadian women wore pink jerseys to market their game.
"Back in the days when we wore pink uniforms, we did what it took to get our game on the map," James said. "We didn't care if we were wearing polka dots, we just wanted to play."
James is now a mother of three and works as a sports coordinator at Seneca College in Toronto.
Granato, who lives in Vancouver and is married to former NHL player Ray Ferraro, is the only woman to participate in each of the first nine women's world championships sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
She is the career leader in goals and points for the United States in the world championship. Granato was Eastern College Athletic Conference player of the year three straight seasons for Providence College from 1991-93. She then played in Canada for the Concordia Stingers, helping them to three Quebec titles.
Granato, James and Canadian defenseman Geraldine Heaney were the first women to enter the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago. Granato was also the first female player inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
"When you're younger you are playing because you love the game and you don't even know the difference between you and the boy next to you and then all of a sudden people start pointing that out," Granato said.
"You realize there's these barriers you have to break through, whether it's someone on the other team bullying you because you're the only girl or fighting for ice time when you're in college," she said.
Ciccarelli badly broke his leg his second year of junior hockey and was told he would never play again. But he went on to a high-scoring career with Minnesota, Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida.
"You get so emotional thinking about this," Ciccarelli said. "I just lost my mom a few months ago and my dad a few years ago.
"It would have been nice to enjoy it with my parents, but I've got my kids, my family and a lot of friends," he said. "We're going to enjoy this and celebrate it."