TORONTO (Reuters) - Former Edmonton Oilers great Glenn Anderson and trail-blazing Russian Igor Larionov headlined the 2008 class inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
Linesman Ray Scapinello, who never missed an assignment over a 33-year career, was also enshrined during a gala ceremony.
A standout in the great Soviet Union teams of the 1980s, Larionov won two Olympic gold medals and four world championships before being allowed to realize his dream of playing in the NHL.
Granted permission by Soviet officials to join the Vancouver Canucks in 1989, Larionov’s signing paved the way for other Russian greats to move to the NHL.
Nearly 29 years old when he skated in his first NHL game, Larionov expected his North American career to be brief but went on to play 14 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.
The studious center, known as the “Professor,” retired in 2004 having scored 169 goals and 644 points in 921 games.
“In 1985 the Vancouver Canucks drafted me in the 11th round realistically thinking I would never be able to come play but four years later myself and five other of my team mates were the first Soviet hockey players to break the barrier,” Larionov said.
“Initially thinking I would only play in the NHL for three years, little did I know this would be my 14-year journey in the NHL.”
Anderson joined five former Edmonton team mates, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr, who formed the nucleus of the great Oilers side of the 1980s.
Anderson also won a sixth Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, sealing his reputation as one of the NHL’s all-time great clutch players with 93 playoff goals, including 17 game winners.
”This has been an incredible journey and so worth waiting for,“ said Anderson. ”Being inducted with Igor (Larionov) makes this very special because for me the Russian players made me a better player.
“Every time we played them I amped up my game. The bigger the game the better I played.”
Writing by Steve Keating in Detroit; Editing by Ed Osmond