Three more names have been added to a very distinguished list as members of the Order of Hockey in Canada.
Hockey Canada announced on Tuesday morning in London, Ont., that the original “Captain Canada”, Ryan Smyth, two-time Olympic champion, Danielle Goyette and Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach, Mike Babcock have been honoured for their outstanding contributions or service to the growth and development of the sport.
Tom Renney, the chief executive officer of Hockey Canada, described the selection as, “One of the most prestigious accomplishments one can receive in hockey in Canada.”
Babcock grew up in Saskatoon, Sask., and is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, as coach of the 2010 and 2014 gold medal-winning teams. He also coached Canada to gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2005 and the World Championship in 2004. Babcock was behind the bench for the Detroit Red Wings as they won the Stanley Cup in 2009.
Goyette is from St-Nazaire, Que., and competed at nine world championships and three Olympic Games as a player and owns 10 gold medals and two silver medals from international competition. Goyette is Canada’s all-time leading scorer at the IIHF World Championship with 53 points in eight tournaments and is currently the head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos Women’s hockey team. She guided them to a national championship in 2012.
Smyth put together an illustrious National Hockey League career that stretched 18 full seasons. He was an NHL all-star with the Edmonton Oilers and also spent time with the New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. Internationally, Smyth won Olympic gold, World Junior gold, the Spengler Cup and captained six of Canada’s entries at the World Hockey Championship, leading Canada to two gold medals and a silver.
The Banff, Alta., native was asked to think back to his time representing Canada for the ultimate moment and after admitting it was difficult to select just one, Smyth reflected back to the 2002 Canadian Olympic team headed by Wayne Gretzky and featuring Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman and other Canadian greats.
“There is no better feeling than beating our arch rival down in Salt Lake and having that Canadian flag just that much more ahead of the others, singing the anthem with gold medals around our necks.”
Goyette also looked to a moment from the very same Games.
“Not a lot of people believed we were going to be able to win a gold medal at the Olympics. There was a lot of adversity that we went through. I think that’s why it was so special and you can never forget the first gold medal that you win at the Olympics.
Renney paid tribute to Babcock at the announcement for what he means to Canada within the game of hockey and outside it as well.
“To recognize Mike is to recognize someone who has offered an awful lot to the entire tapestry of our country, certainly through the game of hockey, no question about that, but through other ways and means as well for the leader that he is.”
Smyth put some added perspective on what it has meant to be involved in a game like hockey for most, if not all of his life.
“The freedom of being on that ice and the enjoyment of playing in the game that started on the street and on the ponds and to eventually getting to the rink and being involved in minor hockey and Hockey Canada and the NHL … being around a team sport is exciting, but by and large, it was the freedom of being on the ice.”
Smyth, Goyette and Babcock will be recognized in a ceremony that will take place in London, Ont., on June 18 as part of the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala and Golf event. Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager, Mark Hunter and Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry will serve as co-chairs.