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Kevin Lowe and Ken Holland are not writing and rewriting their Hall of Fame speeches today.
The 2020 induction ceremony in Toronto Nov. 16 won’t be held in person or virtually because of the pandemic and the player and builder inductees will possibly gather with the 2021 honourees. That will make for a lot of thank-yous for one and all, but that’s life.
So Lowe, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman, who won six Stanley Cups, five here, St. Albert’s Jarome Iginla, who had 625 goals and 1,300 points, the ultimate two-way winger Marian Hossa, San Jose GM Doug Wilson, who won a Norris and played 1,024 games, Canadian Olympic goalie Kim St. Pierre and Holland, the current Oilers GM who helped build the Detroit Red Wings’ dynasty, will wait.
“It’s being pushed to 2021 because it’s a different time with the world we’re living in,” said Holland. “They’re closing things down for the next month in Toronto.”
Holland has been to countless induction ceremonies for his old Red Wings players as well as owner Mike Ilitch and former GM Jimmy Devellano as builders so knows what the night’s all about. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be anxious when he gets to talk about the honour.
“I’ll have a range of emotions and nervous will be one of them,” said Holland, admitting it’s totally different than listening to Steve Yzerman or Nick Lidstrom speak about making the Hall.
When’s the last time Holland would be this nervous?
“Probably my first NHL game (as a goalie),” said Holland.
At least he could let the puck hit him. “Yeah, 86 percent of the time.”
Holland is getting into the Hall for his smarts as a scout, then a manager, not his hockey ability.
“Anytime you’re going into unchartered waters … playing your first game, a Hall of Fame speech, you’re nervous. You gain experience the more you do something, but your first game is a one-off, and so’s your Hall of Fame opportunity to thank all the people that helped make the dream a reality,” said Holland, GM for three Stanley Cups in Detroit.
“About half the 2002 Detroit team went in (Hall) and I’ve been to all of their inductions. (Chris) Chelios, Yzerman, Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, (Igor) Larionov, Brett Hull. I made it a point to be there for all the players who helped on the ice,” he said.
Lowe seconded Holland’s emotion about the tough health times taking precedence over everything.
“The world’s turned upside down and the last thing on everyone’s mind is the Hall of Fame,” said Lowe, the first Oilers draft pick in 1979. “I’ve looked at some YouTube of past ceremonies but haven’t beared down (writing speech) because I knew it wasn’t happening. I find I do my better work closer to the deadline anyhow. Like the trade deadline,”
Lowe got Dwayne Roloson in 2006, the final team piece as they got to within one game of winning it all. Lowe doesn’t know how many ceremonies he’s been to as an NHL manager, but quite a few. Not so many for ex Oiler teammates, though.
“I can’t remember which ones. I might have been at Grant’s (Fuhr). Hey, I’m 61 years old and too many hits to the head,” laughed Lowe.
Lowe’s No. 4 would probably be retired in an Oilers ceremony this 2020-21 season, but with nobody knowing when it’s starting and nobody knowing if or when there will be fans allowed at Rogers Place, that’s most likely been put off.
COVID HITTING KHL TEAMS
KHL coach Bob Hartley, who has Nail Yakupov on his team, has managed to avoid COVID but his Omsk team has been hit hard, including his assistant coach Slava Kozlov, the former terrific Detroit Red Wings/Atlanta Thrashers forward who played almost 1,200 NHL games.
“Touch on wood, I’ve been very lucky but Slava spent the last three weeks in hospital on oxygen. He got it really, really bad,” said Hartley. “Last year he was skating with my players and was in NHL shape. I told him I would put him in a game.”
Kozlov is 48 years old.
“We have three coaches who didn’t get hit and maybe three players. One of our masseuses got it pretty good in training camp and spent a week in hospital and the players were sick for two or three days but couldn’t come back for two weeks (quarantine). For three weeks, I was going on the ice with eight players.
“We were supposed to play against Dynamo Riga (Wednesday) but it was postponed. Their junior team was been affected, their KHL team, too.
“We have a rink that holds 5,500 and they’ve been allowing 1,200 in for games but the Ministry of Health says we can’t have any fans until further notice.”
This ’n that: Lowe’s son Keegan, 27, captain in Bakersfield, has one UFA offer on the table … Oilers centre Gaetan Haas’s Bern team can’t have more than 1,000 spectators now because of COVID concerns after being allowed with other Swiss teams to have two-thirds capacity. The league will continue until Nov. 2, take their international break for a month, but might not play until January … Oilers winger Raphael Lavoie has four goals and six points in seven games for Vasby in Sweden … Former Oilers goalie prospect Shane Starrett signed an AHL with Pittsburgh’s Wilkes-Barre farm club.
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