Legends of Hockey - Induction Showcase - 1996 Induction Weekend Celebration
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The 1996 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend/Celebration

This past November the Hockey Hall of Fame was buzzing with excitement as the 1996 Induction festivities took place. Between November 22 and November 25 a host of activities were scheduled to pay tribute to the 1996 Inductees and entertain hockey fans from all over the world. More than 3,500 people passed through the turnstiles between Friday and Sunday during a fun-filled weekend.

The Inductees were Borje Salming in the Players category, Bobby Bauer in the Veteran Player's category and Al Arbour in the Builder's category. Bob Cole was the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. Salming enjoyed an outstanding seventeen year career mostly with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he became the first European trained player to have a significant impact on the NHL, Bauer starred as the right-winger on the Boston Bruins' famed "Kraut Line", Arbour coached the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups while and Cole has become one of the all-time great play-by-play announcers on Hockey Night In Canada.

The ultimate beginning to the festivities took place on the afternoon of Friday, November 22 when the legendary Bobby Orr met with fans and signed autographs in the Verizon Great Hall. The line of thrilled hockey fanatics began to form hours before Orr's slotted arrival and eventually extended through most of the museum. A further testament to Orr's unequalled place in hockey history was the fact that many of the fans lined up to meet him were children who were too young to remember him play but had heard of his greatness from the previous generation.

Saturday November 23 was declared "Kodak Photo Day" and it gave fans an opportunity to meet and be photographed with some of the game's greatest stars. Marcel Dionne, Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Darryl Sittler, Woody Dumart, Milt Schmidt, Brad Park, Allan Stanley, Glenn Hall and Lanny McDonald were on hand in an event which appealed to followers of a number of teams or eras.

That same night hockey's greatest rivalry was renewed at Maple Leaf Gardens when the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs waged another classic battle with the Habs coming out on top 4-3. The evening was proclaimed "Hockey Hall of Fame Night". Prior to the start of the game Borje Salming, Bob Cole and Al Arbour were introduced to a cheering crowd. The former Maple Leafs great Salming was given a standing ovation in a particularly moving part of the proceedings.

On Sunday the Class of '96 was at the Hockey Hall of Fame to sign autographs and be congratulated in person by their admirers. You could feel the anticipation growing as there was only one more day until the formal Induction Ceremony and Gala.

Monday November 25 finally arrived in what would prove to be a milestone for the Inductees and their families. The first event of the day was the Inductees Luncheon in the Esso Theatre. Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman Scotty Morrison presented each man with his Honoured Member jacket. In addition Salming, Arbour and the family of the late Bobby Bauer were given their Hockey Hall of Fame rings. Cole was presented a commemorative pen as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner. This was followed by the Inductees photo session with their families.

The Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was broadcast live on TSN before a viewing audience of 115,000. The program was hosted by Dick Irvin and John Wells. The Inductees were given their own version of the plaques which were placed on the Honoured Members and Media Award winners wall in the Verizon Great Hall. The speeches were emotional and provided each man with the opportunity to reflect on their careers and acknowledge the support of their families and friends.

Overall the Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend was another resounding success. The celebration and subsequent immortalzation of the careers of these men is one of the reasons why the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must see for all fans of the game. Join us next November for the 1997 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

 1996 Inductees