Bourque, Coffey, Murphy inducted Monday
TORONTO -- A trio of defensemen with nine combined Stanley Cup championships and diverse playing styles were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
Defensemen Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy were joined in Toronto by Cliff Fletcher, who was the architect of the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup championship team.
Following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer and former Boston Bruin Bobby Orr, Bourque earned a reputation as one of the best two-way defensemen in history, mixing great offensive skills with intelligent play in the defensive zone.
During a 22-year career, Bourque amassed 410 goals and 1,169 assists in 1,612 games for the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. His 1,579 career points are most among defensemen and rank ninth on the all-time scoring list.
"Now when I look back at what I've accomplished, I think 'Wow! What a ride,'" Bourque said.
The native of Montreal played in two Stanley Cup Finals in 20 seasons with the Bruins before ending his career with Colorado, where he hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2001. He appeared in the All-Star Game 19 times, trailing only the legendary Gordie Howe (23).
After winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1980, Bourque won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman four times in five seasons between 1986-1991. He collected his fifth following the 1993-94 season -- a total exceeded only by Orr (8) and Doug Harvey (7).
"Having the Hockey Hall of Fame honor me by letting me join this special fraternity is beyond my wildest dreams," Bourque said. "I will remember this night forever."
Playing for nine different franchises, Coffey produced 396 goals and 1,135 assists in 1,409 games over 21 seasons. The 14-time All-Star eclipsed 100 points five times, and his 1,531 career points are just behind Bourque on the all-time list. He also posted 196 points in 194 postseason games.
Regarded as one of the most skilled skaters in league history, Coffey combined his speed with his outstanding shooting and passing to become one of the greatest offensive defensemen.
"I'd like to thank the Hockey Hall of Fame for this tremendous honor," Coffey said. "Two days ago, we received our Hockey Hall of Fame jackets. (I felt) total pride and accomplishment."
A three-time Norris Trophy winner, Coffey scored 48 goals during the 1985-86 season for the Edmonton Oilers -- a total that stands as a single-season record for defensemen.
"Everyone knows how many points he had as a defenseman," former Edmonton teammate Wayne Gretzky said. "More importantly he wanted to win"
The Ontario native won three championships while spear-heading the Oilers' lethal attack in the 1980s. He became the latest member of the Oilers' dynasty to be elected, joining coach Glen Sather, Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr, who was inducted in 2003.
Coffey won another Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991.
A former teammate of Coffey's in Pittsburgh, Murphy ranks second among defensemen with 1,615 games played in 21 seasons.
"When I was 14, I was playing on the Toronto Marlboro Minor Bantam team, and one of my teammates was Larry Murphy," Coffey said. "Who would have ever thought 30 years ago that we'd be standing here today, pretty awesome."
Producing 152 points in 215 postseason games, Murphy won four Stanley Cups during a career spent with six teams. He was part of back-to-back title teams in 1991 and 1992 with the Penguins and in 1997 and 1998 with the Red Wings.
Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, who was the coach of Murphy's last three Stanley Cup winning teams, spoke glowingly of his former blue-liner.
"He knew the game. He knew how to play. With or against the lead, you couldn't have had a better player."
Despite recording 287 goals and 929 assists, Murphy gained a reputation for his outstanding defensive play. He consistently made his teammates better, evidenced by his being paired with Coffey, Rod Langway and Nicklas Lidstrom in seasons they won the Norris Trophy.
"On these walls is the greatest players that have ever played the game," Murphy said. "To be included in this group is an affirmation of my career."
Fletcher, who will be inducted into the builders category of the Hall of Fame, served for more than 25 years as a general manager, posting a career record of 929-776-295.
Entering his fifth season with the Coyotes and fourth in his role as senior executive vice president, Fletcher began his career as a scout for the Montreal Canadiens before joining the St. Louis Blues as an assistant general manager.
Fletcher was selected as general manager of the expansion Flames and served in that capacity in the club's first 19 years. He oversaw the Atlanta Flames franchise in 1972 and 1980 and organized the team's transfer to Calgary.
In Fletcher's 11 years in Calgary, the Flames won two Presidents' Trophies and a Stanley Cup title in 1989.
"The Atlanta Flames made me a general manager at 36, and then the Calgary Flames gave me the best years of my life and a Stanley Cup," Fletcher said.
Fletcher also was the first general manager to sign and bring a player from the former Soviet Union to play in the NHL with official consent when Sergei Priakin joined the Flames in 1988.
From 1991-97, Fletcher served as the chief operating officer, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Under his direction, the Leafs reached the conference finals in consecutive seasons (1993 and 1994).