The United States Hockey Hall of Fame announced yesterday that two new members would be joining along with an entire team’s enshrinement.
Bill Belisle, Craig Janney and the 1996 US World Cup of Hockey team will be the newest inductees into the Eveleth, Minnesota-based institution.
Belisle, of Manville, Rhode Island, is a high school head coach who has been the coach at Mount Saint Charles Academy prep school since 1975. The school, located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, has produced such NHL players as Brian Lawton and Bryan Berard (both first overall picks in the Entry Draft) and Mathieu Schneider as well as more than 20 other players who have gone on to careers in the NHL. His career record stands at 990-183-37 overall since taking over the reigns as coach in the mid-70s. He also led the Mounties to 26 consecutive state titles from 1978 to 2003 and has won 32 state championships overall.
Janney (born in Hartford, Connecticut) was an NHL standout for the Bruins, Blues, Sharks, Jets/Coyotes, Lightning and Islanders during a career that saw him play in 760 games, score 188 goals and 563 assists for 751 points. He played college hockey at Boston College and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 1986-87. Internationally, he represented Team USA in the 1991 Canada Cup (where he helped lead the team to the finals), the 1986 World Junior Championship (where the US medaled for the first time – winning the bronze) and the 1988 Winter Olympics. He also skated in the 1987 and 1994 World Championship and the 1985 World Junior Championship.
The third inductee into the Hall of Fame is the entire 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. That squad took home the United States’ first major international hockey championship since the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic gold medal sixteen years earlier.
Among that team’s personnel were then-Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who served the same role for the US team, former Devils head coach and scout, the late John Cunniff, who served as an assistant coach with Team USA and four players who had played the previous season (1995-96) with the Devils: Shawn Chambers, Bill Guerin, Phil Housley and Brian Rolston.
The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was special for a generation of American-born hockey players, as they served almost the same role the 1980 Olympic team did a generation prior: as role models that showed the US could compete on the international stage in hockey. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was a best-on-best tournament that pitted the best NHL and professional players from the US, Sweden, Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic and Canada against each other. It was the successor to the Canada Cup, which had last been played in 1991.
The team went 6-0-1-0 in the tournament, with their lone loss coming in Philadelphia in the first game of the best-of-three championship series to Canada in overtime. They famously overcame being down 1-0 in the series to sweep the final two games in Montreal to take home the inaugural World Cup.
Brett Hull led the tournament in goals (seven) and points (eleven) while team captain Brian Leetch led the tournament in assists with seven. With tournament MVP Mike Richter leading all goaltenders with a .923 save percentage, all major statistical categories were led by Americans in 1996.
The press release put out by USAHockey.com says that “To date, 16 members from Team USA’s 1996 World Cup of Hockey squad have been inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame.” This includes Lamoriello (2012), Housley (2004), Cunniff (2003) and Guerin (2013).
This is not the first time that an entire team has been enshrined in the US Hall; the 1996 World Cup team joins the 1980 US Olympic Men’s team, the 1960 US Olympic Men’s Team and the 1998 US Olympic Women’s Team.