Monday, February 13, 2012

Jeremy Roenick inducted into the Coyotes Ring of Honor

Jeremy Roenick is one of the all-time great American-born NHL players. Roenick was a nine-time All-Star and two-time Olympian (including winning silver at the 2002 Olympics), and was the third American-born player to reach 500 career goals. He totalled 1,216 career points and 1,463 penalty minutes; as well as 122 playoff points and 115 playoff PIM. He had two 50+ goal and three 100+ point seasons - all of those record seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks - and played 1,363 games. Over the course of his career, played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

Roenick has always been known for two things in addition to his skill on the ice: his at-times blunt personality and speaking his mind; and his love of the fans. When he was a child, he used to go to Hartford Whaler games, and he will recount the story of how hockey legend Gordie Howe picked up some of the snow off the ice and dumped it on his head - and then later gave Roenick a wink and a smile. Roenick was forever impacted by that feeling of connection between him and Howe, and always kept it in his mind throughout his career. Roenick has said in reference to that moment and the impact athletes can have on fans, "Without the fans, without their support, the NHL would be nothing, the NFL would be nothing, basketball, baseball, you name it right down the line ... The two or three seconds you give each day to make sure you appreciate the people who appreciate you, goes a long way."

On Saturday night, Roenick was inducted into the Phoenix Coyotes' Ring of Honor, meaning that his number was retired by the Coyotes, and his name and number now adorn a banner in the team's arena.

Below is the video of the pre-game ceremony and Roenick's speech. Coyotes television & radio host Todd Walsh was the master of ceremonies; also below is the transcription of Walsh's speech from the video. Roenick's acceptance speech starts at approx 12:45 of the video.

"I dare say this is the place to be in the Valley tonight. The Original Six is represented with the Chicago Blackhawks. The red-hot Phoenix Coyotes, standing room only, and Jeremy Roenick. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?

"First, a quick nod to Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks for their patience in being out here for the ceremony tonight. It's a class act by a classy team. And it's kind of ironic if you think about it, because tonight, if you look to the Coyotes' Ring of Honor, you will see the name of the great Bobby Hull, the 'Golden Jet', who you might recall left Chicago to put help Winnipeg on the global hockey map. Many years later, Jeremy Roenick would leave Chicago to help put Phoenix on the same map. Both figures were and still, were larger than life.

"But for Jeremy Roenick, we cannot lose sight that he was the first real face of the new Phoenix franchise, and he wore it well. If there was a baby to kiss, he kissed it. A ribbon to cut, he cut it. An autograph to sign, he signed it. If there was a Sunday night local sports TV show, he was on it, always promoting this sport, this franchise, and this city. He was and remains as recognizable as any athlete, ever, in Phoenix sports history. And he loved every minute of it. And the Coyotes were better for it.

"That was the Jeremy Roenick off the ice. On the ice, that was a different story. Check this out." <video of Roenick highlights>

"Unforgettable. You know behind every good man is an even better and stronger woman and family." <introduces the Roenick family>

"And I wasn't sure how I was going to introduce our next guest. I could talk about 20 years of service. 500+ goals. 1,200+ points. 1,400+ penalty minutes. I don't know how many concussions or injuries. But with a guy like this, I think you have to just narrow it down to one or two syllables. Like 'styles'. Or 'Hollywood'. Or the one and only, JR." <enter Jeremy Roenick to "Werewolf of London">

"Jeremy, trust me, you made an impression on more than a few people along the way, and you're only as good as the company you keep. We all know you can only really ever judge a man by what his friends, and therefore his teammates, say about you, especially when the lights are on and the camera is rolling, and especially when we say to them, just your name, Jeremy Roenick."

<Highlight reel players: Teppo Numminen; Shane Doan; Rick Tocchet; Greg Adams; Keith Tkachuk; Dallas Drake>

"Jeremy, now that you're the face of the new network that you're on, I talked to some of the guys that run the joint: Dave Strader, Mike Milbury, Eddie Olczyk. And they said the one thing you need to do, like I need to here, is to be on time." <The Coyotes present him with a watch>

<they then present to him a framed pair of jerseys from Roenick's time with Phoenix>

"But before we bring Jeremy to the podium, before we pull back that curtain, there's something missing up here, Jeremy. There's something that should be up in that Ring of Honor alongside your name, although it might be a little awkward. And folks, it all stems from a night in March of '99, when Jeremy Roenick physically erased Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars from a game.

"And then of course the payback that came your way in mid-April, the reverberation of that hit from Derian Hatcher nearly crippled one of the best Phoenix Coyotes teams ever assembled. You were hurt severely, and the playoffs were mere days away.

the Hatcher-Roenick hit
(warning: not for the easily-queasy; Roenick plucks his own teeth out)

"Inevitably, it seemed, though, your team arrived at game 7 against the St. Louis Blues, when a 3-games-to-1 lead evaporated. Injuries had depleted the roster. The rumors started a day before, and began to build to and after the morning skate of game 7. It was the talk of the town. Would you, could you, should you? And you did. With the song 'Jeremy' by Pearl Jam rocking the house, you hit the ice.

"Those who were there will never forget warmups, in front of the white-out in America West Arena, you were on the ice that night for three periods plus, with a jaw broken in four places, titanium plates and bands and screws at every fracture. Eight broken teeth. And a goofy-looking piece of hardware protecting it all. Forgotten in all of this, the fact that you broke your thumb on that same hit. Every shift, Jeremy, was your personal minefield. You put your personal health and well-being on the back burner, in defense of your team that night.

"I would argue that it was the greatest hockey game, the most tension-filled game, the most dramatic game ever played in that building. How do you top 1-0 in overtime in game 7?

"Jeremy, it was an iconic moment in Phoenix sports history, and you and that piece of hardware will forever be linked to it. So I thought it was only fitting that tonight, with the help of Stan Wilson, who helped make this mask for you, and who found it just the other night, I kid you not, in storage, to reunite you.

"Because Jeremy, it represents your will and desire to flat-out compete, at any and all cost. It is the essence of you and this game. You cannot hide from it; you have the scars to prove it.

"Your time here will be remembered for a variety of reasons. But first and foremost, it will be remembered for what you did on that night, Tuesday, May 4th, 1999. This won't fit up on the Ring of Honor, Jeremy, but there is plenty of room in all of our collective memory banks for it. This mask, and what it represents, belongs to you. Of all of us who remember that night, remember you, and honor you here tonight, Jeremy Roenick."

<presents Roenick with the jaw piece from his 1999 mask>

1 comment:

  1. How I would love to see the Hawks retire his number!


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