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Rob Blake heads Hockey Hall of Fame's six-man class

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Former Kings defenseman Rob Blake is among four players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Players Rob Blake, Mike Modano, Dominik Hasek and Peter Forsberg are elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Longtime coach Pat Burns and retired referee Bill McCreary are elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Kings defenseman Rob Blake, now the team’s assistant general manager, was one of six men elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. The induction ceremony will take place in Toronto on Nov. 17.

In the players’ category, Blake, 44, was joined by longtime Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, standout goaltender Dominik Hasek, and Mike Modano, the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history with 1,274 points. Retired referee Bill McCreary and the late coach Pat Burns were elected in the builders’ category.

Blake, known for his thunderous hip checks and booming slap shot, won the Norris trophy -- given to the NHL’s top defenseman -- while playing for the Kings in the 1997-98 season. However, he was unable to come to terms with them on a new contract and was traded to Colorado in February of 2001.

Blake went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. He returned to the Kings in 2006 and overall played 14 of his 20 NHL seasons with them, finishing with 240 goals and 777 points in 1,270 regular-season games. He also had 73 points in 146 playoff games. He was elected in his second year of eligibility.

“It’s a great honor, and I think when you receive that call, you’re speechless because you’re replaying everything throughout your career,” Blake said during a conference call. “It’s a great honor.”

Forsberg led Colorado to the Cup in 1996 and 2001. He amassed 249 goals and 636 assists for 885 points in 708 regular-season games during a career curtailed by leg and foot injuries. He ranks in the top 20 in playoff goals (64), assists (107) and points (171).

Hasek won the Vezina trophy as the NHL’s top goalie six times and was twice voted the league’s most valuable player while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. In addition, he led the Czech Republic to the Olympic gold medal in 1998, the first Olympic hockey tournament that included NHL players. He also won the Stanley Cup twice while playing for the Detroit Red Wings.

“What a great honor to be inducted,” Hasek said. “What a fantastic time I spent over there with so many great players. I’m very thankful today.”

Modano, a native of Livonia, Mich., thanked fans in Minnesota, where he began his career with the North Stars, as well as in Dallas, where he played the bulk of his career. “What an amazing phone call to get. I’m just speechless,” he said. “I’m at a loss for words at what this has meant for me, for all of us.”

McCreary officiated 1,737 regular season games, 297 playoff games and one NHL All-Star Game. He also officiated during the 1998, 2002 and 2010 Olympics and worked 44 games in the Stanley Cup Final, a league record.

Burns won Coach of the Year honors three times and won the Cup with New Jersey in 2003. He died of cancer in 2010.

His widow, Lynn, said her late husband  "would have been so happy, so grateful, so proud to accept this honor. It’s a very emotional day for the Burns family, I can tell you that."

The makeup of the Hall of Fame selection committee was changed before this vote to include Luc Robitaille, the former King who's in the Hall as a player, and Hall of Famer Bob Clarke. It was thought that Clarke's inclusion might help Eric Lindros gain admission to the Hall, but Lindros was not among the four players chosen.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Ice HockeyNational Hockey LeagueLos Angeles KingsStanley Cup PlayoffsColorado AvalancheBuffalo SabresDetroit Red Wings
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