TORONTO - The Hockey Hall of Fame is no longer just for male inductees.
Cammi Granato and Angela James changed that yesterday when they became the first women elected to be enshrined in Toronto. Along with former NHL All-Star Dino Ciccarelli, Granato and James will go in as part of the players category during an induction ceremony in November.
Longtime Red Wings executive Jimmy Devellano and the late Daryl (Doc) Seaman - a founding owner of the Calgary Flames - were elected as builders.
While women had always been eligible for induction, the Hall made it easier for them to be voted in when it established a women's subcategory this year.
Up to four male players are eligible for induction annually, but only Ciccarelli was voted in Tuesday. Eric Lindros and Joe Nieuwendyk were potential contenders among NHL players in their first year of eligibility that didn't receive enough support.
Women were given their own player category this year, and James and Granato filled the maximum of two female inductees per year.
"This is a day I never really thought would ever happen," James said. "I'm really honored to represent the female hockey players from all over the world."
Granato played on the U.S. women's hockey team for 15 years and led the club to a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano
Olympics. Her brother, Tony, played and coached in the NHL.
"I dreamed of being in the NHL my entire life, and this certainly makes up for those dreams," Granato said. "Being amongst the first women to play at college and later at the Olympics, it certainly was worthwhile being a hockey pioneer."
James was a four-time world champion with the Canadian women's team. She starred in the 1970s and early '80s in the Central Ontario Women's League.
"On behalf of everyone in women's hockey, I am truly honored," the Toronto native said. "As a kid I went to the Hall and was in awe of those who had been inducted. I am delighted to be able to join them."
Ciccarelli played 19 NHL seasons with five teams, recording 608 goals and 592 assists in 1,232 games. In nine seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, he led the team in scoring five times.
"This is a tremendous honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life," Ciccarelli said. "I really appreciate the support of my coaches, the fans and mostly importantly my family throughout my 19-year career."
The 18-member selection committee includes Scotty Bowman, Pat Quinn, Harry Sinden, Serge Savard and Peter Stastny.
Chairman Bill Hay said he wasn't worried about a perceived imbalance of male and female players entering the Hall this year when there are so many retired NHL players lined up for induction.
James, dubbed "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," was the top scorer for eight seasons and MVP for six in the Central Ontario Women's League. James was also MVP at eight Canadian championships.
She recorded 34 points for Canada in 20 games over the first four world championships in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997. James scored 11 goals in the inaugural tournament in 1990 when the Canadian women wore pink jerseys to market their game.
"Back in the days when we wore pink uniforms, we did what it took to get our game on the map," James said.
"We didn't care if we were wearing polka-dots, we just wanted to play."
James is now a mother of three and works as a sports coordinator at Seneca College in Toronto.
Granat lives in Vancouver and is married to former NHL player Ray Ferraro.
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