Ladies and gentlemen,
Today is a landmark day for the EURO League as we induct four men who were instrumental in building the sport and the league to the high level of popularity we now enjoy. After four seasons of play, the EURO League has grown to rival football as the continent’s most popular sport. Television, newspapers and the Internet devote large portions of their coverage to tell a ravenous fan base our every move. Right now, in fact, an army of reporters is following Copenhagen General Manager Dylan Callow to get the scoop on the next trade. I fully expect to interrupt this speech with an announcement of another Callow trade as he rebuilds the league’s most prestigious franchise.
More than four seasons ago, 24 owners took the bold step of creating a league stretching from the British Isles to Russia and as far south as one of history’s most important cities, Athens, Greece. We attracted the world’s top players and have grown to become the best league on the planet.
The first season saw the Geneva Generals win the first EURO Cup, emerging from a tough challenge provided by fellow Swiss team Bern, as well as St. Petersburg, Munich and Callow’s Copenhagen. Two members of that champion Geneva team are among three players who today become initial members of the EURO League Hall of Fame.
Nicklas Lidstrom – After a stellar career in the NHL where he made countless fans across North America, Lidstrom led the Generals to a championship in the league’s first year. That season, the 41-year-old defenseman logged 26 minutes per game and scored 13 goals and 45 points in 72 games. He blocked 107 shots and his +23 defensive play and on-ice leadership translated into team wins on a regular basis. League GMs voted him into the first all-star game held in the EURO League and in the Generals’ successful playoff run, he scored 13 points in 20 games and had twice as many takeaways as giveaways. His most memorable goal came in Game 2 of Geneva’s conference finals playoff series against Munich when Lidstrom’s slapshot beat Jonathan Quick in the 112th minute of a triple overtime game to give Geneva a 2-0 lead in the series. The next season was the last for the legendary Swede. He ended his career with 35 points in 63 regular season games and 8 points in 12 playoff games.
Teemu Selanne – The right wing from Finland was known as one of the best goal scorers in NHL history and was always regarded as a gentleman and good ambassador for the sport. In the EURO League, he was a teammate of Lidstrom’s on Geneva’s Cup champion team, scoring 24 goals and 69 points as a 41-year-old. Like Lidstrom, he was a +23 player that season. In the playoffs, he was also a +23, but in only 21 games. He scored 26 points in those 21 games, including 11 goals, and he was a driving force for the team. Selanne and Lidstrom formed a strong and obviously effective leadership team. In the Northern Conference Finals, against Munich, it was Selanne’s goal with 1:40 remaining in Game 6 that pushed Geneva into the finals against Copenhagen. Selanne took a pass from Mike Fisher, slipped past Munich defenseman Mike Commodore, and snapped a wrist shot to beat Jonathan Quick on the blocker side. The next season, Selanne opted to play for Gothenburg and his final season was marked by 61 points in 80 games as a 42-year-old.
Zdeno Chara – After playing in New York, Ottawa and Boston in the NHL, Chara went home to play in the EURO League with Bratislava in his native Slovakia. He was immediately named captain of the Eagles, a title he held for four seasons until his retirement at age 38. Chara used his immense size and 6-9 height to it’s fullest advantage, making it as difficult as possible for opposing forwards to get to goalie Craig Anderson and the other Bratislava goalies. Chara recorded between 230 and 248 hits and between 85 and 95 shot blocks every year of his career. When he retired, he ranked 5th all-time in hits and he was in the top 10 all-time in terms of defenseman goals and points. He was voted in as a starter for the first two all-star games and his best season came in Season 2 when he scored 67 points and won the league’s Best Defenseman Trophy. In his final season, at age 37, Chara scored 11 goals and 39 points and he placed 7th in the league – 3rd among defensemen – in plus-minus with a +39 rating.
Chuck Massaro – Massaro was a surprise inductee to the Hall, being voted in by other league GMs via a Websim story published on April 15, 2015. One of the founding members of the league and its only commissioner to date, Massaro initiated some features that most other Websim leagues do not have, such as a blog covering league events, an annual all-star game, a draft guide and the Hall of Fame.
The “Hall of Fame” link at the top of this page directs users to the permanent Hall of Fame page which includes photos of the interior of the building and the information in this story as a lasting tribute to the members.
Below are the results of the voting. To achieve membership in the Hall of Fame, a player must receive a grade of 8.1. Some of those who did not enter the Hall may appear again on future ballots.
|Martin St. Louis||7.1|