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Willie O’Ree didn’t know he had broken the NHL’s color barrier when he made his debut in 1958. Martin Brodeur couldn’t see the three Stanley Cup titles and jaw-dropping career ahead when he played his first game in goal for the New Jersey Devils in 1992 and Jakub Vrana Jersey , a year later, Gary Bettman didn’t know he would end up growing the league by leaps and bounds over the next 25 years as its commissioner.All three will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame together as the headliners of a trailblazing class of 2018 that also includes diminutive forward Martin St. Louis, four-time gold-medal-winning Canadian women’s national team star Jayna Hefford and Russian Alexander Yakushev.O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL, Bettman has overseen the league’s expansion into a multibillion-dollar industry and Brodeur piled up the most wins and shutouts of any goaltender in NHL history.”This is an exciting class to be around because everyone has tried to take their game to the next level,” Bettman said Tuesday. ”I really wasn’t focused on whether this was happening now; I was really focused on whether Willie O’Ree was going to be selected because that to me was a very important act for the Hall to take.”Bettman has been commissioner since 1993, during which time the NHL has expanded its footprint across North America and increased from 24 to 31 teams. In that time, the league has gone from a $437 million business to one with almost $5 billion in revenue. It’s been an occasionally bruising ride, with three work stoppages, including one that canceled the entire 2004-05 season and led to the salary cap. But Bettman has been nothing if not a strong leader, and all-time great Wayne Gretzky said the efforts to help each club compete have made the game stronger.”His leadership and love for hockey is very evident,” Gretzky said. ”Hockey has become more entertaining year after year, thanks in part to his passion for the game.”Brodeur lifted the Stanley Cup three times with the Devils between 1995 and 2003. He leads all goalies with 691 wins and 125 shutouts in 1,266 regular-season games with the Devils and St. Louis Blues, and he won the Vezina Trophy four times. He won 113 playoff games and had a 2.02 postseason goals-against average. Brodeur also scored two regular-season goals and another in the playoffs – more than any other goalie.The Montreal native was the last real standup goaltender as the position moved almost exclusively to the butterfly technique, and his puck-handling prowess led the NHL to institute the trapezoid behind the net as a way to increase scoring.”You play your whole career and you don’t expect to get this phone call Derek Ryan Jersey Womens , but when it does, it definitely does feel pretty good,” said Brodeur, the Blues assistant GM who was sitting alongside Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson at prospect camp in St. Louis when he got the news. ”I want to thank the committee for putting me on so early.”While Brodeur and St. Louis were first-ballot selections, O’Ree had been waiting decades for this honor since making history at the Montreal Forum on Jan. 18, 1958, with the Boston Bruins. He was 32.A native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, in Eastern Canada, O’Ree finished with four goals and 10 assists in 45 NHL games during the 1957-58 and 1960-61 seasons despite being 95 percent blind in his right eye. O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL but he will be the third inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Edmonton Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr and Canadian women’s national team captain Angela James.”Willie paved the path for the rest of us,” Fuhr said. ”In that way he is a true builder of the game. If you look up the word `builder,’ there should be a picture of Willie. He is the Jackie Robinson of hockey.”Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said O’Ree receiving this honor was long overdue, adding ”Willie has been a tremendous figure in our game both on and off the ice for over 60 years.”Now 82, O’Ree works for the NHL as diversity ambassador John Carlson Jersey , helping with its ”Hockey is for Everyone” initiative. There are now about two dozen black players currently on NHL rosters.”I knew that there were going to be more black players not only playing pro but eventually getting into the National Hockey League,” O’Ree said. ”Now there’s 31 teams in the league and you can see that the black players and the players of color that are playing there, they’re there because they have the skills and the ability to be in the league.”St. Louis was a 5-foot-8 winger who put up 1,033 points in 1,134 regular-season games over 17 seasons, winning the Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 and an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2014.”When people tried to discourage me along the way, that’s just life,” St. Louis said. ”I definitely used that as a motivation in trying to prove people wrong.”Hefford won four Olympic gold medals and seven world championships, putting up 30 points in 26 Olympic games. She said the honor was more emotional than some of her medals because she could share it with so many family members, friends and teammates.Yakushev became known to North American hockey fans during the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, with 11 points in eight games. He also won Olympic gold medals in 1972 and 1976.Hall chairmen Lanny McDonald and John Davidson reached Yakushev in Russia, right after he had come off the ice after playing a game at the age of 71.”He was not only thrilled (but) when I asked him if he won the game he said, `Yes we won, I’m still playing, this is the best day ever Lars Eller Jersey ,”’ McDonald said.— LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers are starting to find ways to overcome their own mistakes.They proved it against the floundering Los Angeles Kings, putting together their first winning streak of the season in the process.Oskar Lindblom had a goal and an assist as the Flyers defeated the Kings 5-2 on Thursday night.Ivan Provorov scored for the second straight game and the Flyers won consecutive games for the first time. Brian Elliott made 25 saves, and Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds each had a goal.“We’ve played pretty good hockey at different times,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “We just haven’t been consistent enough from one game to the next. And there’s been games we haven’t been consistent enough period to period. That’s what we’ve been able to do the last two nights is put consistent play together for 60 minutes.”Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter scored a power-play goal for the Kings, who have lost seven of eight. Los Angeles has allowed at least three goals in each of those eight games.Jack Campbell, who will be the starting goalie for three to six weeks as Jonathan Quick recovers from knee surgery, made 26 saves.Lindblom made it 3-1 at 14:05 of the second period when a video review determined he kicked the puck in off Kings defenseman Sean Walker’s stick, confirming the original call on the ice.Kovalchuk cut the deficit to 3-2 at 18:49, his fifth point in two games. Kovalchuk has two goals and three assists during that span.Giroux put the Flyers back up by two at 14:27 of the third, and Robert Hagg added an empty-net goal at 16:49.“It’s not where we want it to be, but I think we’re doing lots of good things,” Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas said. “I think we’re stepping in the right direction.”The Flyers went in front 2-1 on Simmonds’ goal at 10:53 of the second, 49 seconds after Carter scored on a backhand following up his own rebound.Philadelphia mounted a similar response in a 3-2 win at Anaheim on Tuesday, with Nolan Patrick scoring the winner 21 seconds after the Flyers allowed the tying goal.“We’re learning from our mistakes earlier Madison Bowey Jersey ,” said center Sean Couturier, who had an assist. “It’s a long game and we’re getting some good response right after, and we need that. It’s a tight game, you’ve got to keep playing. The next line, that’s two games in a row where we do a great job getting a big lead back.”While the Flyers have been better able to respond positively to those circumstances, Carter viewed allowing the goal so quickly as a reflection of the Kings’ largely stagnant play.“It’s just kind of the way things are going right now for us,” he said. “We need to stick together and use that positive momentum to our advantage. We’re getting it and we’re giving it right back. It’s tough right now.”Provorov put the Flyers ahead 1-0 at 17:35 of the first period, scoring in the slot on a one-timer from Dale Weise.Jordan Weal pressured defenseman Derek Forbort into losing the puck in the neutral zone, the kind of breakdowns Kings coach John Stevens said have been occurring too frequently.“A step slow with the puck, and a step slow checking to get the puck back, and too much time in your zone,” Stevens said. “Too many bad things happening.”NOTES: Flyers G Michal Neuvirth did not dress for what the team described as precautionary reasons. Calvin Pickard served as Elliott’s backup. … Kings D Paul LaDue is day to day after sustaining an upper-body injury in practice Wednesday. … Flyers forward Corban Knight will be out four months after undergoing surgery on his collarbone.UP NEXTFlyers: Visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.Kings: Continue their seven-game homestand Saturday against Columbus.
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