Everyone in the hockey world knows about the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. What most casual fans aren’t aware of is there is a United States Hockey Hall of Fame for hockey fans to visit and check out exhibits and shrines dedicated to the best American hockey players. Located in Eveleth, Minn., the Hall of Fame has been around since 1973 and their mission is to honor those who have contributed to the success and promotion of hockey in the United States. Prior to this year, there has been 145 players, administrators, and teams inducted. This year’s induction ceremony will take place in Dallas, Texas where just short of 20 years ago they were awarded an NHL franchise when the North Stars moved from Minneapolis to Dallas. Two players and an administrator will be inducted, as well as two others being honored with special awards.
The players being inducted include the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history Mike Modano, 1,000+ games played member Eddie Olczyk, and New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. Receiving the Lester Patrick Awards are Bob Chase-Wallenstein and Lester’s grandson Dick Patrick.
Chase-Wallenstein could be one of the best play-by-play announcers you’ve never heard of. The 86-year-old is currently in his 60th straight season broadcasting games for the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. Patrick is a member of the Washington Capitals organization and has been a big influence on hockey in the nations capital city. Patrick could arguably be considered a member of the “first family of hockey” as his uncle Lynn played professionally in the 1930’s and 1940’s and his cousin Craig was an assistant coach on the 1980 US Olympic team and was the architect of the Pittsburgh Penguins two Stanley Cup teams in 1991 and 1992.
Modano is one of the legends of hockey in the United States. A native of Livonia, Mich, Modano spent 20 of his 21 seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota/Dallas franchise before playing his last season with his hometown Red Wings. He’s the Stars franchise leader in all major categories including games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359). He’s also the all-time leader among American-born players in goals (561) and points (1,374). He wore the stars and stripes on several occasions including three Olympics, three World Cups, three World Championships and two World Junior Championships.
Olczyk had a long career that spanned 16 years with seven teams. Like Modano, Olczyk won the Stanley Cup one time as he was a member of the 1994 New York Rangers. His best seasons came between 1987-88 and 1989-90 when he scored at least 32 goals and 75 points in each of those three seasons. He was a member of the 1984 Olympic team and played for the U.S. in five World Championships and three Canada Cups. A native of Chicago, Olczyk currently works as a broadcaster for NBC.
Lamoriello is the only one of the three to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, as he was inducted as a builder. He’s been with the Devils organization as general manager since 1987. That hasn’t been the only job he’s had in professional hockey, as he oversaw the 1988 U.S. Olympic team and 1996 World Cup team. He’s also served as interim coach on two occasions during his time with the Devils. He’s also a minority owner of the New York Yankees. Before coming to the Devils, the Providence, R.I. native served as head hockey coach and athletic director at Providence College. He took the head coaching job five years after graduating in 1968 and served in that capacity until 1983. In 1982 he became the athletic director and he was influential in forming the Hockey East conference as well as hiring basketball coach Rick Pitino. His last year as hockey coach he took the Friars to the Frozen Four and Pitino took the basketball team to the Final Four in Lamoriello’s last year as athletic director.