- Associated Press - Thursday, October 21, 2010

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.”

Joining Roenick and Hatcher in the 2010 class were Hatcher’s older brother, Kevin, former USA Hockey executive Art Berglund and former USA Hockey physician George Nagobads.

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.

In paying tribute to his fellow inductees, Roenick reserved the most time and respect to Derian Hatcher, the player who broke Roenick’s jaw in four places during a game late in the 1998-99 season.

“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.”

Hatcher, who was suspended for seven games for his hit on Roenick, spoke prior to the ceremony about how much respect he had for J.R. by never faulting him for getting hurt.

“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.”

Roenick also paid tribute to Berglund, for pioneering hockey in America. And he also didn’t forget that it was Berglund, who invited Roenick to his first USA Hockey camp some 25 years ago.

“If there wasn’t an Art Berglund, there wouldn’t be a USA Hockey, especially not at the level that it has gotten to,” Roenick said. “You introduced me to a very different world.”

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.

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