Mats Sundin’s immediate reaction told the story.
“Are you serious?” he said. “You made my whole year.”
Sundin, who played 13 of his 18 NHL seasons with Toronto, couldn’t quite believe the call from the Hall of Fame.
Sundin, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates were elected to the Hall on Tuesday. Sundin is the second Swedish player in the Hall, joining Borje Salming, another Maple Leafs icon.
The induction ceremony is Nov. 12 in Toronto.
Among those eligible this year for the first time but not elected was Brendan Shanahan, who is the league’s chief disciplinarian. Four players are the limit in that category each year. No one was elected in the builders category.
It was a hugely memorable day for Oates, the consummate playmaker. Earlier in the day, Oates was hired as coach of the Washington Capitals. He will be the third coach for the Capitals in less than a year, following Bruce Boudreau (now with the Ducks) and Dale Hunter.
Oates, undrafted, started his playing career in Detroit and finished it with the Edmonton Oilers and had been an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. He had 1,079 assists, sixth all-time.
It was the sixth year of eligibility for Oates, who played for seven NHL teams, including one season with the Ducks in which they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. For all of his wondrous passing skills, Oates scored both goals in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild, the game that put the Ducks into the Final for the first time.
Sakic won the Stanley Cup twice with the Colorado Avalanche and played for Canada in three Olympics, winning gold in 2002. He spent his entire career with the same franchise, being drafted by the Quebec Nordiques and moving with the team to Colorado.
Bure, a speedy right winger, started his career in Vancouver and played for the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. He had consecutive 60-goal seasons for Vancouver in the early 1990s.
Eligible next year are such luminaries as defenseman Chris Chelios and former Kings defenseman Rob Blake, as well as former Ducks Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer.