NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Tim Thomas, Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson and Krissy Wendell comprise the 2019 class of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, USA Hockey announced on Wednesday.
FILE PHOTO: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media prior to the ice hockey NHL Global Series match of the Florida Panthers vs Winnipeg Jets in Helsinki, Finland November 1, 2018. Lehtikuva/Martti Kainulainen
The quintet will be honored at the 2019 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration on Dec. 12 in Washington.
“It’s truly a remarkable class,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “Each of the five inductees have their own unique and immeasurable contribution to our great game. They’re extremely deserving of the highest hockey honor in our country and we look forward to formally enshrining them into the Hall in December.”
Bettman, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto last year, became the NHL’s first commissioner on Feb. 1, 1993. The league has expanded from 24 to 32 teams under his watch with attendance growing by an average of seven million fans per season during the 67-year-old’s tenure.
Thomas, a goaltender, became the second American and the oldest player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason in 2011 when he led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup title.
Gionta highlighted his 16-season NHL career by winning a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. The forward also represented the United States in both the 2006 and 2018 Olympics.
Henderson co-founded the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the oldest minority hockey club in North America. He was also part of the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative.
“Neal Henderson is a pioneer in hockey in the Washington and Baltimore communities. We are fortunate to have an advocate for hockey such as Henderson who consistently brings joy to the sport while sharing his wealth of knowledge with kids,” Washington Capitals CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement.
“Henderson’s work with Fort Dupont Ice Arena and D.C.’s minority hockey programs is a vibrant part of our community and he is a true ambassador for the sport of hockey. Moreover, with USA Hockey’s selection of Washington, D.C., as the host city for the 2019 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction celebration event, we are thrilled to celebrate Henderson’s achievements in the community he has so greatly impacted.”
Wendell helped Minnesota win back-to-back NCAA women’s national championships (2004, 2005) and captured the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 2005 as the best female college hockey player. She also claimed a bronze medal at the 2006 Torino Olympics, where she served as captain for the United States.
— Field Level Media