BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Funny, emotional and also humbled, Jeremy Roenick showed Thursday night that he could be as colorful and outspoken in retirement as he was during his 20-year NHL career.
During a 20-minute U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech, the player many know as “J.R.” hailed USA Hockey for growing into a “world super power,” thanked NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance, for “letting me be me,” and put to rest any bad blood he ever had with fellow inductee Derian Hatcher.
“Wow, what a night,” Roenick said. “This award means everything to me.”
The ceremony was held in Buffalo as part of USA Hockey’s festivities in promoting the World Under-20 Championships that will take place in the city this winter.
“Everywhere I go, everybody asks me about Derian, and I’ll put this one to rest right now,” Roenick said. “Derian, I respect you, and I’m jealous of you because of your Stanley Cup. But never, ever did I feel one bit of animosity for our competitive level and what we did on the ice.”
“I think he always felt a little awkward when I saw him, so he would go out of his way to make me feel comfortable,” Hatcher said. “I think that says a lot about him.”
Earlier in the day, Roenick also spoke highly of Berglund by saying: “I can’t believe it’s taken so long for him to go into the Hall because he’s meant so much to USA Hockey. But I’m glad it’s this year. That’s probably one of the best parts of tonight. I’m going in with Art Berglund.”
From Boston, Roenick was a nine-time NHL All-Star, two-time Olympian and seven-time 30-goal-scorer, who played in Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Los Angeles and finally San Jose, before retiring in 2009.
With 513 goals and 703 assists for 1,216 points in 1,363 games, he ranks third in career goals and points among U.S.-born players.
The Hatchers, from suburban Detroit, made names for themselves as defensemen, and for playing two distinct styles.