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Ex-Tampa Bay Lightning Ciccarelli leads Hockey Hall of Fame class

TAMPA — Former Lightning right wing Dino Ciccarelli wanted to stay busy Tuesday afternoon and not think about possibly receiving a call from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I didn't want to get too excited this year," he said.

He thought he might be selected for induction several times in the past, only to be bypassed. Then his phone rang, and on the caller ID, the 416 Toronto area code was a giveaway.

"I started to get a little nervous," he said. And then jubilant.

Ciccarelli, who wasn't drafted after breaking a leg in juniors but went on to score 608 goals and get 592 assists in 1,232 games with five clubs (Minnesota, Washington, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida) during a 19-year career, was finally selected for the hall.

"It's about time," former Lightning general manager and Hall of Famer Phil Esposito said of the player he obtained in 1996.

Joining Ciccarelli are trailblazers Cammi Granato and Angela James, the first female inductees, and in the builder's category longtime Detroit executive Jim Devellano and ex-Calgary owner Daryl "Doc" Seaman. The were selected by an 18-member committee.

Granato, James and Canadian defenseman Geraldine Heaney were the first women to enter the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago. Granato was also the first female player in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

In a perfect world, Ciccarelli, 50, said, he would want a piece from each of the five jerseys he wore during his career to be a part of his enshrinement display. The communities were all supportive, he said, including Tampa Bay during his 11/2-year stint. He scored 35 goals in 1996-97 and 11 until a midseason trade in '97-98.

"You start to get so emotional thinking about this," he said. "I just lost my mom a few months ago, my dad a few years ago. It would have been nice for them to be around, but I know they'll be watching with a big smile on their face."

Up to four male players are eligible for induction annually. Contenders who didn't make it include former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, who led the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup and is the only 600-goal scorer not in the hall; Lightning assistant coach Adam Oates, and Eric Lindros.

Women have always been eligible, but the hall made it easier for them to be voted in by creating a women's category this year. Granato and James filled the maximum of two inductees.

Granato played on the U.S. women's team for 15 years and led it to a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics. "I dreamed of being in the NHL my entire life, and this certainly makes up for those dreams," Granato said.

James, dubbed "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," was a four-time world champion for Canada who starred in the 1970s and '80s in the Central Ontario Women's League.

Ducks' Niedermayer retires: Scott Niedermayer, one of the game's top defensemen whose career includes four Stanley Cups and a playoff MVP trophy, announced his retirement. Niedermayer, 36, led Anaheim to its only Stanley Cup title in 2007 and was named MVP of the playoffs that year. He won three Cups with the Devils, in 1995, 2000 and 2004, and the Norris Trophy in 2004 as the league's best defenseman.

Salary cap to grow: The players union executive board voted to retain a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows the next season's cap to grow 5 percent once revenues exceed $2.1 billion. The current cap, $56.8 million, is expected to rise to about $59 million. The amount will be announced before the free-agent signing period begins July 1. Also, the board voted to extend the collective bargaining agreement, set to expire next year, through 2011-12.

Panthers-Bruins trade: Florida traded Nathan Horton, at his request, and fellow forward Gregory Campbell to Boston for defenseman Dennis Wideman and two draft picks.

Canadiens: Center Tomas Plekanec, the leading scorer this past season (70 points), signed a six-year contract worth $30 million, according to media reports. He was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Also signed was ex-Lightning wing Mathieu Darche for one year and $500,000.

Oilers: Pat Quinn was removed as coach after the team finished with the league's worst record in his first season and was assigned to the front office as an adviser. He was replaced by assistant Tom Renney, who will run his third NHL team.

Sharks: General manager Doug Wilson said top goaltender Evgeni Nabokov won't be offered a contract and can become a free agent July 1.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

Ex-Tampa Bay Lightning Ciccarelli leads Hockey Hall of Fame class 06/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:03am]
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