Pronger joins Hall of Fame

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By He­lene El­liott he­lene. el­liott@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ he­le­nenothe­len

Chris Pronger ad­mired the Ducks’ tal­ent when he and the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers de­feated Ana­heim in the 2006 Western Con­fer­ence f in­als. When he was traded to the Ducks a few months later, he brought the phys­i­cal el­e­ment they needed to be­come cham­pi­ons in 2007.

“Scott Nie­der­mayer was the only one who had won a Stan­ley Cup and there was a few of us that had been to a f inal and lost,” Pronger said. “There was just that burn­ing de­sire and hunger to get back there and try to win one.”

Pronger, one of the most feared but cov­eted de­fense­men of his gen­er­a­tion, head­lined a seven- per­son class elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Mon­day. The group, which will be in­ducted Nov. 9 at a cer­e­mony in Toronto, also in­cludes in the play­ers’ cat­e­gory skill­ful for­ward Sergei Fe­dorov, cre­ative de­fense­man Phil Hous­ley, seven- time Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner Nick Lid­strom of the Detroit Red Wings, and four- time U. S. Olympic women’s medal­ist An­gela Rug­giero of Simi Val­ley.

Elected in the builders’ cat­e­gory were Bill Hay, a for­mer NHL rookie of the year and for­mer chair­man of the Hall, and Carolina Hur­ri­canes owner Peter Kar­manos Jr., who for decades has been in­volved in youth hockey around his na­tive Detroit.

Hous­ley is the third- high­est scorer among Amer­i­can play­ers with 1,232 points over 23 NHL sea­sons. He re­tired in 2003. “I can’t tell you how shocked, ex­cited, ex­tremely proud I am of be­ing able to en­ter with all these play­ers in this year’s class and the past class,” he said.

Lid­strom, a lock in his f irst year of el­i­gi­bil­ity, and Fe­dorov, who played 85 games for the Ducks, brought to nine the num­ber of Hall of Famers from the Red Wings’ 2002 champi- on­ship team.

“I’m very ex­cited and proud and hon­ored to be go­ing into the Hall of Fame with all the other great play­ers,” said Lid­strom, who spent his en­tire NHL ca­reer with Detroit and amassed 1,142 points in 1,564 games while win­ning four Cup cham­pi­onships.

Fe­dorov, who de­fected from Rus­sia dur­ing the 1990 Good­will Games, won three ti­tles with Detroit. “I de­cided to move on, leave the coun­try for the dream that I ex­pe­ri­enced in the NHL,” he said.

Rug­giero, a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, was a rar­ity as a fe­male hockey player as a child. “To be hon­est, I wanted to play for the L. A. Kings. I showed up to ca­reer day in the sec­ond grade with my hockey gear on,” she said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with re­porters. “I knew I wanted to play hockey, just didn’t know where it would take me. How­ever many years later I got to play in four Olym- pics and travel around the world and now here to­day be in­ducted into the Hall of Fame. Def­i­nitely some­thing I couldn’t have ever imag­ined.”

Pronger, who works for the NHL’s Depart­ment of Player Safety, last played for the Philadelphia Fly­ers in 2011. He suf­fered a se­ri­ous eye in­jury but didn’t f ile re­tire­ment pa­pers be­cause that would have ad­versely af­fected the team’s salary- cap sta­tus. The Fly­ers last week traded his con­tract and its $ 4.9- mil­lion an­nual salary cap hit through 2016- 17 to Ari­zona, which needed to reach the salary f loor of $ 52.8 mil­lion next sea­son.

Pronger’s role as a dis­ci­plinar­ian is in­ter­est­ing be­cause he was sus­pended eight times as a player. Asked if any cur­rent player plays as he did, he laughed. “I don’t know if you could. They might be in front of me if they did,” he said.

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