St. John’s native John Slaney becomes first Newfoundlander to be inducted into AHL Hall of Fame
For all he’s done in hockey — ninth overall National Hockey League draft pick (1990), a 15-year pro career, 268 NHL games, a pair of top defenceman awards in the American Hockey League, the AHL’s all-time leading scorer amongst rearguards — John Slaney of St. John’s can add another accolade to his illustrious career.
Hall of Famer.
And he will be honoured at home, where it all started.
Slaney is one of four people slated for induction into the American Hockey League’s Hall of Fame next week in his hometown.
“It’s special, for sure ... 100 per cent,” Slaney said of the induction ceremony, slated for 11:30 Wednesday morning at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
“It all started back home, playing for St. Pat’s, at Brother O’Hehir Arena. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. I think about it every day since I retired.”
Slaney will be joined in St. John’s by his wife, Brenda, and children Tyler, 12, and Julia, 7, in addition to his mother, brother and sisters and their families.
“Unfortunately, my dad won’t be there,” he said of Joe Sr., the Merrymeeting Road barber who died a number of years ago.
“With something like this,” he said of the Hall of Fame honour, “you think of your parents who sacrificed for you, and everyone who helped you out along the way.”
Slaney was 15 when he was drafted by the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League. He went on to star for the Royals, winning top defenceman honours in the Canadian Hockey League, and scored the big goal in the 1990 world junior championship which gave Canada the win over the Soviet Union in the final game.
“I was only 15 when I left, and when I look back, I didn’t really grasp going away to play hockey. I used to travel a little bit with Joe (his older brother), and to me, going to Cornwall was another vacation.
“I got used to it, but Christmas was always a hard time. I used to look forward to coming home, and it was always pretty hard getting on that plane and going back.
“But I knew I was going back for a reason, and that was to play hockey, get better, get noticed and eventually play in the NHL.”
The Hall of Fame ceremony is part of the festivities surrounding the Assante Wealth Management AHL All-Star Classic Tuesday and Wednesday at Mile One Centre.
The all-star game, which goes 8 p.m. Wednesday, pits a team of AHL stars vs. Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite league.
The game versus a European team is a switch of gears for the American league, which for years went with an inter-league East vs. West game, or Canada vs. PlanetUSA all-star format.
As for Slaney, he joins Bill Dineen, Al MacNeil and Bob Perreault in the Hall of Fame.
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1990, Slaney joined the AHL’s Baltimore Skipjacks in 1992-93 and set league records for goals (20) and points (66) by a rookie defenceman.
Over the next five years, he would spend the majority of his time in the NHL, with the Caps, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.
In 1999, he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and split the season between the NHL and the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. With the AHL Pens, he played both defence and forward, and enjoyed a career year with 30 goals and 60 points in only 49 games.
For the remainder of his career, Slaney was primarily in the AHL and twice was named the league’s top defenceman and made five All-Star game appearances, including the 2001-02 event staged in St. John’s.
On Jan. 21, 2007, he became the first defenceman in AHL history to reach 500 career points, a feat eventually surpassed by Bryan Helmer.
Today, Slaney is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Portland Pirates.
Other inductees are:
Dineen played five seasons in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings before making his AHL debut with the Buffalo Bisons in 1958.
He topped the 20-goal mark four times in his six years with Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester and Quebec, and made appearances in the Calder Cup finals in 1959 and 1964.
Dineen’s six seasons behind the bench with the Adirondack Red Wings in Glens Falls, N.Y. saw him win the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 1985 and again in 1986, and he led the Red Wings to Calder Cup titles in 1986 and 1989.
He is one of just 12 coaches ever to win more than one Calder Cup, and one of only two to earn the Pieri Award in consecutive seasons.
Dineen later went on to coach the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
MacNeil was a solid defenseman who played more than 500 NHL games.
He was player/coach for the AHL’s Montreal Voyageurs in 1969-70, and was brought up to the parent club as an assistant coach in 1970-71. He was promoted to head coach mid-year, guiding the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship that spring.
In 1971-72, he led the Nova Scotia Voyageurs to a 41-21-14 record and their first Calder Cup championship, earning the Pieri Award as the league’s outstanding coach.
MacNeil’s Vees posted two of the greatest back-to-back seasons in AHL history in 1975-76 and 1976-77, combining for 100 regular-season wins and capturing consecutive Calder Cups. MacNeil, who won his second Pieri Award in 1976, guided the Voyageurs to four 100-point campaigns in his seven years at the helm.
MacNeil returned to Montreal as the Canadiens’ director of player personnel and won two more Stanley Cups in 1978 and 1979, and was assistant general manager of Calgary’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 1989.
Bob Perreault enjoyed a pro career spanning more than two decades.
He debuted with the AHL’s Providence Reds in 1951, and in 1956-57, joined the Rochester Americans and helped the expansion club reach the Calder Cup finals in its inaugural season.
Perreault’s next five campaigns were spent with the Hershey Bears, and he soon became one of the league’s elite netminders. In both 1957-58 and 1958-59, Perreault earned second team AHL all-star honors while backstopping the Bears to consecutive Calder Cup championships.
He was a second team selection again in 1961-62, winning a league-high 36 games for Hershey.
Returning to Rochester in ’65, Perreault reached three more Calder Cup finals and won championships with the Americans in 1966 and 1968. His 1967-68 season saw him lead the AHL in wins (31), shutouts (six) and GAA (2.88), earning his fourth career berth on the second all-star team.
Perreault, whose four Calder Cups are tied for the most ever by a goaltender, ranks sixth with 229 victories and third with 37 shutouts in his AHL career. Perreault died in 1980 at the age of 49.