The International Ice Hockey Federation announced their 2016 Hall Of Fame class, to be inducted during the 2016 World Championships in Russia. The class includes five players and two coaches from six different countries, including two posthumous inductions, that have held a myriad of World Championship, Olympic and World Cup medals, along with a number of International Hockey Lineal Championship titles.
Peter Bondra broke in to the professional hockey world around the same time that Slovakia split with Czechia, emerging as the new face of the Slovak national team. In the NHL, Bondra was a 500 goal scorer in his 16 year career, spending short stints with Ottawa, Atlanta and Chicago, with the bulk of his career spent as a Washington Capital. Bondra twice led the league in goals, and was a five time All-Star. But with the Slovakia national team was where Bondra truly shined, playing in two World Championships, two Olympics, the 1996 World Cup, and helping Slovakia qualify for their first Olympics as an independent nation in 1994. It was Bondra’s stick that propelled Slovakia to the top of the hockey world in 2002, stunning a powerful Russian squad to win Slovakia’s first World Championship Gold (and also won his first IHLC), less than a decade after becoming their own team.
Sergei Fyodorov, the Russian speedster, made an immediate impact upon defecting from the Soviet Union in 1990, starting an illustrious 18-season career with Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus and Washington, winning three Cups with the Red Wings. Fyodorov, a six-time All Star that also won two Selke Trophies, the Pearson Award and the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 1994 (becoming the first European to do so), also spent time in the KHL with Magnitogorsk and CSKA, playing in three All-Star Games and winning League MVP in 2003. Fyodorov, the top-scoring Russian in NHL history, suited up for The Big Red Machine at four World Championships, a Canada and World Cup apiece, and three Olympic Games, winning Gold at the 1989 (also his first IHLC title), 1990 and 2008 Worlds.
Valeri Kamenski, who joined the NHL following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, spent 12 seasons with the Quebec/Colorado franchise, Dallas, New Jersey and New York Rangers, winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 with Colorado. He was a mainstay with the Soviet roster starting in 1986, winning three World Championships (1986, 1989, 1990) and Olympic Gold in 1988 before joining the Russian roster for the 1994 Worlds. Kamenski would twice more play on the Russian squad, at the 1998 Olympics and 2000 World Championships before leaving the NHL in 2002.
Ville Peltonen, who played only six seasons in the NHL with San Jose, Nashville and the Florida Panthers, found more success in the Finnish and Swiss leagues, with a 20+ year career spanned with stints at HIFK, Jokerit and Lugano, just to name a few. It was with the Leijonat that Peltonen shone, captaining a number of squads while suiting up for eight World Championships, four Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, winning Gold at Finland’s historic 1995 World Championship victory. Peltonen also brough home silver from the 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2007 Worlds, as well as the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Pat Quinn, a very successful former NHL player and two-time coach of the year with Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton, was tabbed by Wayne Gretzky in 2002 to helm the bench for Team Canada at the Salt Lake City Olympics, where he helped a triumphant Team Canada win their first Gold Medal in 50 years. Quinn returned to the bench at the 2004 World Cup, helping Canada run the table and win their first Cup since 1991. Quinn’s final coaching stint with the senior team was at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, where Canada finished a disappointing seventh. “The Big Irishman” sadly passed away after a long illness in November 2014.
Ben Smith spent his formative years behind the bench of the top U.S. colleges in the Northeast, before joining USA Hockey in 1996 to coach the U.S. women’s national team. What nobody could have anticipated was that Smith would be behind the bench for one of the fiercest rivalries in hockey history, as he coached Team USA to a number of legendary games against Team Canada. As coach, Smith led the Americans to the first Olympic Gold in women’s hockey in 1998, along with the first World Championship Gold for the U.S. in 2005. Smith retired after the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Gábor Ocskay is the winner of the 2016 Richard “Bibi” Torriani Award, for outstanding players from non-traditional hockey nations, for captaining the Hungarian national team for 16 straight World Championships from 1993 to 2008. Ocskay was at the centre of some of Hungary’s greatest senior team achievements, notably helping his team to the Championship group of the Worlds tounrament in 2008, and upsetting Sweden to win Hungary’s first (and so far only) IHLC. Sadly, however, Ocskay would miss the 2009 World Championships, as he passed away from a heart attack in March 2009 at age 33. His win this year is particularly timely, as Hungary has once again been promoted to the Championship level for the first time since 2009.
Our congratulations to all of the nominees and their families for joining the annals of international hockey history!