June 29, 2015 / 9:58 PM / 4 years ago

Swede Lidstrom headlines Hall of Fame's Class of 2015

(Reuters) - Sweden’s Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the NHL’s most decorated defensemen and a trailblazing leader, was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday as part of the shrine’s seven-member Class of 2015.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom waits to talk with reporters following a news conference announcing his retirement from NHL hockey at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Lidstrom was joined by fellow National Hockey League players Sergei Fedorov of Russia, Canadian Chris Pronger and American Phil Housley, while American Angela Ruggiero became the fourth woman ever elected for induction.

Bill Hay, a former president of Hockey Canada and the Calgary Flames, and Peter Karmanos Jr., who won a Stanley Cup as owner and chief executive of the Carolina Hurricanes, were elected for their contributions to the game over the decades.

Lidstrom, a seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, one fewer than Bobby Orr’s eight, spent his entire 20-season career with the Detroit Red Wings and helped them win the Stanley Cup four times.

In 2008 he became the first European-born and -trained player to captain a team to the Cup.

“During my hockey career I was always focused on the next game or the next season, so I never allowed myself to imagine I’d be hearing from the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Lidstrom, an 11-times NHL All-Star, who won 2006 Olympic gold with Sweden.

“I took a lot of pride in being dedicated to the game, so it means a great deal to me to be recognized by those who know the game the best.”

Fedorov, one of Lidstrom’s former team mates and the first Russian to reach the 1,000-point milestone in the NHL, captured three Stanley Cups with Detroit and won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in 1994.

“I have always played hockey because I loved it, not because I wanted to win awards,” said Fedorov. “But now that my career is over I realize how special it is to be recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

Pronger, considered one of the toughest competitors to ever patrol the blue line, captured both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Norris Trophy in 2000. He won two Olympic golds for Canada and a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

Defenseman Housley, second-leading scorer all-time amongst U.S.-born players, played in seven All-Star games in his 23-year career, while Ruggiero won Olympic gold and four world championship golds and six silvers for the U.S. women’s team.

The official induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 9 at the Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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