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The Malik Report

Recapping the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductions

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductions took place on Monday at Detroit's MotorCity Casino, with Bill Guerin, Cindy Curley and a quartet of inductees with Michigan ties in Doug Weight, Ron Mason, Peter Karmanos and USA Today's Kevin Allen.

Kukla's Korner's own Monica McAlister attended the ceremonies, and they were all but live-Tweeted by Monica, by ESPN's Craig Custance, by Michigan Hockey, by the Free Press's Helene St. James and by USA Hockey's Twitter account.

Gary Bettman, Chris Chelios and other hockey luminaries were in attendance to pay tribute to the inductees, and USA Hockey posted a short video of the ceremonies...

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted videos from Doug Weight's media availability...

And Peter Karmanos' media availability--and this clip's seven minutes long...

And the Detroit News posted a clip of the aforementioned inductees and Ron Mason's comments, as well as a photo gallery from the Detroit News's David Guralnick:

USA Hockey's Ryan Satkowiak set the stage, as it were...

The star power wasn’t just limited to the stage. As present for the event were current NHL executives David Poile, Brian Burke, Jim Nill and Jim Rutherford, among others, and past U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk.

The inductees all reflected on their past experiences and what induction into the hall meant to them.

“When I got the call that I was inducted, I was in my car and I had to pull over,” Guerin said. “It reminded me of all the people who helped me get here, who helped me in a positive manner.”

Karmanos was the one of five who never played the game, and made that known early in is speech. But that doesn’t diminish what he has been able to accomplish. His dedication to the game has helped in grow on both the youth and professional levels. His Compuware AAA midget teams have been greatly successful, as has the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. He reveled in what those he has worked with have also accomplished, including a Stanley Cup victory in Carolina in 2006.

“As a builder, you don’t have many stats or many medals, but you do get lots of rewards seeing those you work with get stats and medals,” he said.

Curley was one of the greatest women’s players on Providence College history. Here 225 points rank third in school history. She was a pioneer in the women’s game. She talked about growing up and how her mom didn’t want her to play hockey, trying instead to steer her daughter toward calmer activities.

“I’m thankful my mom’s attempts to have music and trampoline lessons failed,” she said.

And he noted that family ties tie all of the inductees to hockey in some way or form:

For Peter Karmanos, he helped found the Compuware AAA Midget team in part due to his son.

Two of Ron Mason’s grandsons are also involved in the game. Travis Walsh is a sophomore defenseman at Michigan State, the school at which Mason spent the majority of his legendary career. His other grandson, Tyler, is the video coordinator at Canisius College.

“I don’t know if there’s anything I enjoy more than coming up to watch him play,” Mason said. “They’re both following in dad’s and granddad’s footsteps getting involved in college hockey.”

Karmanos founded the Compuware Hockey Program in the 1970s with the goal of providing a local program to help players reach the height of their potential. The program has found success over the years, so much that it’s something Weight remembers about his youth hockey experiences.

“Compuware used to thump us all the time,” he said with a chuckle, noting he played for his father’s team.

Cindy Curley reminisced on the days when she was younger playing in cold rinks with here brothers, who were instrumental in her growth as a player.

“They always found time for me to play on teams, even though I was the worst one,” she said. “It’s just great to get them all here. Anyone who knows about hockey knows about the sacrifices.”

NHL.com posted profiles of all the hockey-playing or hockey-owning inductees:

 

 

 

 

The Associated Press's write-up focused on Guerin and Weight...

Doug Weight recalled his father putting him on skates at the age of 2 because he could barely walk due to a childhood condition that relegated him to wearing braces on his legs.

''He started putting me on the ice to strengthen them at the suggestion from a doctor,'' he said.

Weight said it wasn't a pretty sight at the rink in St. Clair Shores, Mich.

''I looked like Forrest Gump,'' he joked.

Four decades later, Weight was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The Stanley Cup champion, three-time Olympian and four-time NHL All-Star was inducted Monday night at the Motor City Casino - in the city where he grew up.
''It's ironic,'' the Detroiter said. ''Pretty special.''

Weight was honored along with former teammate Bill Guerin, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, three-time Olympian and four-time All-Star.

''It's very special, three different NHL teams and nine teams in all,'' Weight said about the number of times he teamed up with Guerin. ''It's a pretty incredible run together. It's icing on the cake to go in with Billy.''

Weight and Guerin's wives and children have become friends over the years, going on vacations together and sharing holidays as families.

NHL.com's Adam Kimelman focused on Guerin and Weight...

"It couldn't have worked out any better," Guerin said. "Dougie is not only the ultimate teammate, but the ultimate friend. He's always got your back, he's always got your best interests. He's got a great heart. He's got a great family. He's just a great guy. I love the guy."

Their friendship dates to an Olympic festival in St. Cloud, Minn., in 1990.

"We were doing one of those camps in the summer," Weight said. "He was with his Boston boys, beaking all us Michigan guys. It tended to be you knew the four or five guys from your area and four or five days into it you'd meet the other guys. We'd have a good time."

They were reunited on the memorable 1996 U.S. World Cup team that saw the Americans win the best-of-3 final against Canada by winning the final two games in Montreal. Weight had three goals and four assists in seven games; Guerin had two assists and 17 penalty minutes. In January 1998, they were reunited again. The New Jersey Devils traded Guerin to the Edmonton Oilers, and the two formed a productive partnership.

"I had a chance to play with him in Edmonton when we got him in a trade," Weight said. "I was ecstatic. We had a great time out there. He loved it. Every time I played with Billy, it was great. I enjoyed it."

Partnerships with the Blues and Islanders cemented the friendship.

"The relationship just took off then between myself and Doug and [wives] Kara and Allison and now our kids," Guerin said. "Our kids match up. It's fantastic. It's been a lot of holidays spent together, lot of vacations spent together. They're a special family."

The Free Press's St. James penned an article for USA Today which discusses Karmanos and Masons legacies...

It's impossible to estimate how many thousands of children have benefited from Karmanos' decision to co-found Detroit Compuware Hockey in the late 1970s, creating an organization that nurtured players from AAA to Junior A. In 1989, he acquired ownership of an Ontario Hockey League franchise known in its current incarnation as the Plymouth Whalers, who play at a jewel of an OHL home in Compuware Arena. When the Detroit Red Wings needed a place to stage their lockout-shortened training camp in January of 2013, this was where they came.

Karmanos has had success at every level of hockey, becoming an NHL champion in 2006 when his Carolina Hurricanes didn't finish playing until they partied with the Stanley Cup. Through all his success at the moneyed level, Karmanos, a graduate of Wayne State and former CEO of Compuware Corporation, has kept sponsoring youth hockey programs within the state.

Where Karmanos looked after the very young that populate the beginnings of hockey and the very rich that populate it's ultimate destination, Mason guided teenagers and young adults in the balance between collegiate hockey and academics. Born in Blyth, Ontario, it was in Michigan that Mason made his name, starting at Lake Superior State, securing his legacy at Michigan State.

Mason led the Spartans to the NCAA championship in 1986, and back to the title game the following season. In 1993, 14 years after he was hired at MSU, Mason became college hockey's all-time winningest coach with 674 victories. By the time he retired from coaching in 2002 to become the school's athletic director, Mason had 924 victories, a feat that wasn't surpassed until 2012.

Under Mason, Michigan State hockey had a reputation as one of college hockey's best programs. He was instrumental in helping found the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in 1972. He imbued the CCHA with legitimacy while at Bowling Green State University, where the Falcons in 1977 were the conference's first entry into the NCAA tournament. Since 2000, conference tournament trophy has been known as the Mason Cup.

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff duly noted that Karmanos not only founded the Compuware program and owns the OHL's Plymouth Whalers and NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, but he also owned the Windsor Spitfires before the Junior Red Wings were founded:

“That was a very important step, because the CHL is best development league for kids under 20 in the world,” Karmanos said. “Learning how to compete in that league – and I think we learned how to compete there – was very important toward having enough confidence to think that we would buy a National Hockey League team and run it properly.”

Even though he’s moved on to hockey’s biggest pasture, Karmanos remains an OHL owner.

“I love the CHL,” he said. “It’s great hockey.”

Over the years, he’s stayed loyal to people who worked for him in both Windsor and with the Whalers. Jimmy Rutherford, his GM in Windsor, remains his GM in Carolina. Wally Tatomir, his equipment man in Windsor, filled the same role with the Hurricanes until he retired a couple of years ago.

“I think first of all, you’re loyal to good people,” Karmanos said. “That’s an important part, even in business. Having respect for the people that you work with and having loyalty are things that make for a great organization.”

It got his teams to Memorial Cup finals in both Windsor and Plymouth, and to a Stanley Cup title in Carolina. Talk about walking in a winter wonderland.

And the Detroit News's Kulfan noted that Weight was repeatedly pursued by the Red Wings, but never ended up playing for his hometown team:

Doug Weight always enjoyed returning to play at Joe Louis Arena, and more than once he was thought about what it would be like to play for his hometown Red Wings.

“I won’t even say in the back of the my mind,” Weight said. “They had some lean years growing up but I was still a big Detroit fan. Then they were getting Sergei (Fedorov) and Stevie (Yzerman) and putting the team together and becoming competitive. I wouldn’t change anything in my career but I would have loved to have had the chance to play for my hometown team. That would have been great.”

USA Today's Kevin Allen was honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy, and, as NHL.com's Kimelman noted, Allen is the dean of American hockey writers:

Now in his 28th season covering hockey for USA Today, Allen said the biggest reason he got into hockey was because of baseball. Allen had covered some Detroit Red Wings games while working for a newspaper in Port Huron, Mich., and covered the Detroit Tigers for the newspaper. It was his Tigers coverage that got him noticed by USA Today, which brought him aboard in 1984.

"Rod Beaton, the baseball writer, he was the first USA Today hockey writer," Allen said. "He left to go to baseball. They brought me back to do baseball, but we had thousands of baseball writers and he was the only hockey writer. When he left he told the sports editor, Henry Freeman, ‘Kevin is from Michigan, I bet he speaks hockey fluently.'"

Freeman conducted a national search, and Allen said he knew Freeman offered the job to other people, all of whom turned it down.

"He couldn't find anyone else he liked and I had been doing it two months and he said, ‘Would you consider taking this?' This was in 1986 and I said yeah, absolutely," Allen said. I got it then and I've just never left."

Allen has covered countless big events, from Stanley Cup Finals to Olympic hockey tournaments to the final game at the Montreal Forum. But he said the one story that stands out in his mind was a 2003 story on Jordin Tootoo.

The Free Press's St. James continues that story...

“Going up to the Arctic Circle and going out seal hunting with him,” Allen said, “being on a boat in the middle of Hudson Bay with no oars and no life preservers and no radio, just Jordin and me and a couple other guys. It was almost life-altering. You write for years that people overcome obstacles, but you see something like that, what he went through to get to the NHL, it was pretty amazing. That’s my favorite story.”

And Allen himself wrote an article reflecting upon his career (a career still in progress as USA Today's chief hockey writer and the president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association) and what the Lester Patrick Award means to him--and the snippet I'm posting is part of a much longer and really must-read article:

When I tell these stories, what I realize is that most people get paid for performing their jobs and all of these years I've been getting paid to explore my passion. I loved writing and sports when I was a young man and I've tricked people into paying me to live in a world where I could be involved in both.

I've had two rules during my career: always try to be fair in your reporting and never forget that you are lucky to be doing what you are doing.

The only negative of my job is that I often I have to be away from home. That's why I am fortunate to be married to Terri Sherman. I have been USA's TODAY's hockey writer forever, and I have been married to Terri for forever and then some. I've known her since I was 15.

I understood what a crazy life we've had one time when I listening to a phone conversation Terri had with her mother years ago during the playoffs about whether I would be at a family event.

"If Detroit finishes off Toronto and St. Louis wins Game 5, then Kevin will be there," Terri said. "Of course, if Philadelphia and Washington go to a Game 7, it doesn't matter what happens to St. Louis or Detroit."

Being a sportswriter means riding a roller coaster in your personal life, but I've ridden that roller coaster holding hands with my wife all the way. I share this award with her because she has done as much to get here as I have. We've done it together.

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.