Brodeur, Hefford, Bilodeau headline Canada's Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2019

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — When Martin Brodeur was a youngster growing up in Montreal, he played goaltender on one team and forward on another.

His mother Mireille, who endured anxious moments over the years watching Brodeur's father between the pipes, had a suggestion for young Martin.

"My mom didn't want me to be a goalie," Brodeur recalled Wednesday. "She said, 'Go score goals, don't be a goalie.' She was a wife of a goalie and that's not good usually — too nervous."

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Brodeur didn't take her advice, instead choosing the netminder position and following in the footsteps of his father, Denis. It was a path that would lead Martin to the Olympic podium, just like his dad.

Brodeur also won the Stanley Cup three times over 22 seasons in the NHL. He earned the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender on four occasions. 

He was rewarded for his stellar career Wednesday with his induction into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Brodeur headlined a class of 2019 that included freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau, hockey player Jayna Hefford, para-nordic skier and wheelchair racer Colette Bourgonje, water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller and long-distance swimmer Vicki Keith.

Former CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell and rowing athlete, coach and official Guylaine Bernier entered as builders.

Brodeur set NHL marks for regular-season wins (691), shutouts (125) and games played (1,266), spending almost his entire career with the New Jersey Devils. 

"I was really fortunate to play on good teams and stay out of the medical room for most of my career," he said. "That's something that I took a lot of pride in, being durable when I played.

"I think the longevity of my career is something that I'm really proud of."

Denis Brodeur, a longtime sports photographer, posted a 3-1 record to help Canada to a third-place finish at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Martin, meanwhile, served as a backup at the 1998 Nagano Games before winning Olympic gold at Salt Lake in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010.

"I'm proud (to) be a part of an Olympic family," Brodeur said. "My dad won a bronze medal and I won two gold medals. Not too many father and sons can say that. It's pretty cool."

Hall inductees were chosen from 260 public nominations. The class of 2019 was feted at a morning induction festival news conference in the Barbara Frum Atrium at CBC headquarters.

A gala and ceremony were scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Bilodeau, from Rosemere, Que., won Olympic moguls gold in 2010 and defended his title four years later in Sochi.

Hefford, who grew up in Kingston, Ont., played 17 seasons of international women's hockey before retiring in 2014. A five-time Olympic medallist, she reached the podium 12 times at the world women's hockey championship.

Bourgonje, from Porcupine Plain, Sask., won 10 Paralympic medals over her career. She's the only Canadian female athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Paralympics.

Horn-Miller won over 20 medals in multiple events at the North American Indigenous Games. The Montreal native also won gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg.

Keith was best known for crossing some of the most daunting bodies of water in the world as a marathon swimmer. The Winnipeg native set world records on 16 occasions over her career.

Mitchell, from Calgary, founded the BLG Awards (now the Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards) and served as CFL commissioner from 1984-89.

Bernier, a native of Saint-Leon-le-Grand, Que., competed in women's rowing at the 1976 Montreal Games. She has been involved in the sport in a variety of roles for over four decades. 

New at this year's ceremony was the addition of the Order of Sport. Inductees were presented with a scarf and silver lapel pin or pendant in recognition of their role in contributing to communities and supporting sports.

"You listen to the stories and what these Hall of Famers are most proud of is what they're doing after sport and how they're building our country," said Hall president and CEO Cheryl Bernard. "It's incredible and it's impactful for us."

Also Wednesday, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame honoured its class of 2019.

Inductees included divers Alexandre Despatie and Emilie Heymans, weightlifter Christine Girard, triathlete Simon Whitfield, judo coach Hiroshi Nakamura, the Vancouver 2010 women's hockey team and the London 2012 women's soccer team.

Posthumous builder inductees included sportswriter Randy Starkman and Jack Poole, who helped bring the 2010 Games to Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2019.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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