The Making of the Hall of Fame Speech

Tuesday, May 5. 2009

I wanted to let you all know about the making of the Hockey Hall Of Fame Speech and how the process of fitting my life's work into a mere 4 minutes took place.

After getting the glorious news about being picked to join the members of the Hall of Fame on June 17th, 2008, I was on cloud "9". I didn't have any pressuresGlenn Blazer or stress, I was just elated. That lasted for about a week. It seemed that everyone that congratulated me was also concerned about my speech. "How is it coming along? Are you writing it and videotaping yourself practicing? What are YOU going to say?".. and on and on and on..

Actually, I hadn't given it much thought until all these questions came up. It's not like you practice a speech to get into the Hall of Fame some day. I was a player who practiced my craft to be the best I could be under pressure, but I would quickly find out this was a completely different kind of pressure. I wasn't in my realm, there was no comfortable sheet of ice under my feet. I had to think, reflect, and put my feelings and life on paper and say them in just minutes to the world! I was actually more nervous about this speech than going in to play in a playoff game.

So, I turned to my wife Susan and said, "You have to help me with this!" She's really good at deciphering my thoughts and feelings and scribbling which looked like a prescription.

I wanted my speech to be unique and memorable and wanted to add my soon to be six year old daughter, Autumn, into the mix. For months I wrote down everything that popped into my head, wherever I was and on whatever I could find, which included backs of receipts, paper bags, old envelopes, and so on. Have you ever tried writing on a leaf? I was in Central Park with Autumn when a thought hit me and I didn't have any paper to write on. We picked up a maple leaf, how apropos, but my pen tore through it when I tried to write.

When I showed Susan my collection of well thought out quips, the look on her face was shock and she gave me that 'you've got to be kidding me' look. Now I'm much more organized and carry a small notebook around, but for months I was in a bit of a panic about what I would actually be able to condense. My rewrites of it were continual and right up until minutes before the live broadcast of the induction!!

My answer over the summer and early fall about the speech was: "My daughter is very busy writing it for me, and yes, she is five"! That kind of stopped people in their tracks and they didn't know what to think when I said it so convincingly. Those people who know me pretty much thought it might be true. Autumn is quite smart for her years and she did have a lot of input. She had it memorized as you can see her mouthing the words at the induction ceremony.

While writing the speech all the reflecting and memories that flooded into me made me lose a lot of sleep. It was a humbling adventure to say the least and it broke my heart to leave so many people out of it that had somehow assisted me in getting to that podium. Hopefully, and in time, I will get to thank each and every one of them in person.

As the induction date drew closer the pressure mounted and the Hall of Fame gave me a very tight schedule to adhere to. It was hard to soak it all in as it became a blur of autograph sessions, photo shoots, ceremonies and conferences.

The actual day of the induction was really memorable. My family and I had to leave the hotel several hours before the ceremony. In retrospect I remember how we were picked up by this stretch limo and taken to another photo shoot where we were all included in the pictures, together and then separately with me. Then back in the limo and to a special room in the Hall of Fame building where we had some delicious food and drinks and were told to relax. Hah! While the Hall was filling up with spectators and the cameramen were making sure they knew where certain people were sitting we had to wait to be seated. Except for Autumn, the people around me were bundles of nerves and looked like frazzled golf balls that Tiger Woods had hit.

The family members were seated and inductees had a quiet moment to themselves FINALLY. The Hall made this special and unique and really showed their class. Then I looked forward to climbing those few steps and knowing Autumn was coming up on stage to be with me and help me with my speech.

Quote from Autumn - she just said 'there's no crying in hockey'.

 

*note: glenn will have several items from his HHoF induction offered at his first online memoribilia auction, coming soon.