Drafted by the Devils with the third overall pick in 1991, the swift-skating defenseman wasn't just a great individual player (172 goals, 568 assists in 1,263 games). He made everyone around him better. His silky smooth skating was the envy of every player in the NHL, and he was dynamite in all three zones. But he was also a ferocious competitor and a leader who grasped the subtleties of guiding his teammates into battle as well as anyone who ever played the game. Add in a graceful character that earned him respect on and off the ice, and he was guaranteed a spot in the Hall
2 of 8Brian Bahr, Silvia Pecota, Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; David E. Klutho/SI(2)
Over the course of his 17-season career with the Devils and Ducks, Niedermayer became hockey's greatest champion. He is the only player to win the Stanley Cup (four), Memorial Cup, World Cup of Hockey, World Junior Championship and gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships. He also won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defensman for 2003-04 and the 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
3 of 8Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images; David E. Klutho/SI
Chelios was universally respected as well, but for entirely different reasons. He was as mean and cheap an opponent as anyone has run into during the last three decades, but those same qualities made him a beloved teammate. Over the course of 26 seasons and 1,651 games ? a total no American player or defenseman ever topped ? Chelios would do anything to help his team win a game. That he was an 11-time All-Star and won the Norris Trophy three times speaks to his exemplary two-way play, and his willingness to play tough and dirty made him a throwback to another era. He embodied Old Time Hockey
4 of 8David E. Klutho/SI; Ryan Remiorz/AP
Chelios lifted his first Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986, and went on to hoist it twice more with Detroit (2002, 2008) after a nine-year stint with Chicago. Remarkably durable, he became the second oldest player in NHL history during the 2009-10 season, when he was called up from the AHL's Chicago Wolves to play for the Atlanta Thrashers at age 48. "He's the best American-born player ever," former Hawks teammate Eddie Olcyzk said to the <italics>Chicago Tribune</italics>.
5 of 8Jack Dempsey/AP
Drafted by New Jersey second overall in 1987, Shanahan went to play for five teams (Devils, Blues, Whalers, Red Wings, Rangers) and become the only player in NHL history to score at least 600 goals and serve at least 2,000 penalty minutes. He epitomized the term "power forward." He could beat you with his shoulder, his fists or his wrister. He had a hair-trigger temper that was a furious thing to behold, and it bought him the time and space he needed to become an elite sniper. Longevity rarely enters in the equation, but the fact that he was able to play the way he did for as long as he did is a marvel.
6 of 8Bruce Bennett Studios, Robert Laberge/Getty Images; David E. Klutho/SI
A three-time Stanley Cup winner with Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002), he appeared in the playoffs in 19 of his 21 seasons and participant in eight NHL All-Star Games. Shanahan was also a key member of Team Canada, joining "triple gold" club by winning gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships to go along with his Cups. He retired from the NHL with 656 goals and 1,354 points in 1,524 games.
7 of 8Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images; Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
Shero's long wait for induction was a hot topic for years, but the innovative coach of the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup-winning Flyers finally was given his due. Over his 10-year career, he posted a .612 points percentage, fourth best all-time behind Scotty Bowman, Mike Babcock and Toe Blake. He was one of the first to include the study of game film in his preparation and to hire a full-time assistant coach. He also began the practice of game-day skates to address any concerns ahead of that night's contest (and maybe partly to keep his team of carousers in line).
8 of 8Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Heaney is one of the legends of the women's game, Canada's "female Bobby Orr," a rugged two-way defender who routinely quelled attacks long before they became scoring chances, then spearheaded the transition game with her superior playmaking and beautiful skating. She's best remembered for scoring the goal that clinched the gold medal in the first-ever Women's World Championship in 1990. Heaney went on to help Canada win seven World Championships, along with silver at the 1998 Olympics and gold in 2002.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!