(photo: Wikipedia)

The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced on Monday and it includes some of the most amazing men to play the game of hockey with three of the four players being inducted in their first year of eligibility.

Goaltender Dominik Hasek, of the Czech Republic, Swedish center Peter Forsberg, American center Mike Modano and defenseman Rob Blake were joined by coach Pat Burns and referee Bill McCreary as the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

When you look at this list of players you see four Stanley Cup winners, two Olympic Gold Medal winners (as players), along with countless other awards. These men represent the epitome of hockey and have served as role models to countless young boys who dreamed of joining the NHL.

Chosen by the 18-person induction committee, the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place November 17. And though previously announced, USA Today hockey reporter Kevin Allen, winner of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism and Chicago Blackhawks play-by-play announcer Pat Foley, receiver of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting will also be honored at the ceremony.

During his 16-year NHL career, Hasek won the Vezina Trophy six times, tying him with Bill Durnan for second-most all time behind Jacques Plante. In addition to winning the Stanley Cup twice, later in his career, with the Detroit Red Wings, he helped the Czech Republic win a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, which was the first time the NHL players participated. Hasek almost gave up his dream of the NHL in 1992, considered returning to Europe. Instead he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and was given a chance to show what he could do.

Forsberg becomes the third Swedish player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Borje Salming and Mats Sundin. Like Hasek, Forsberg helped his country reach Olympic gold when Sweden won at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics off his shootout goal. And he was with the Colorado Avalanche when they won the Stanley Cup in 1996 with Joe Sakic (who was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2012) and Patrick Roy (who is now head coach of the Avalanche) and then again in 2001.

Modano is the highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history. The Livonia, Michigan native has 561 goals and 1,374 points. All but 40 of his 1,499 games were played with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise and are the most of any U.S. born forward. He helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999.

Blake played in 1,270 games with the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado and the San Jose Sharks. While with the Avalanche—along with Forsberg—he won the Stanley Cup in 2001 and as an executive would win a second Cup with the Kings and also won gold with Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Burns was elected in the builder category. He spent parts of 14 season as a coach in the NHL. As a coach he won the Jack Adams Award with three teams and was with the New Jersey Devils when they won the Stanley Cup in 2003. He died November 19, 2010. His widow, Lynn, was certain that Burns would have been very happy, grateful and proud of the honor.

Among the teams that Burns coached, he stood behind the bench of the Boston Bruins from 1997-2000. Upon today’s announcement of Burns election, Bruins president Cam Neeley issued a statement, through the team.

“On behalf of the Boston Bruins I would like to congratulate the family of Pat Burns on his election into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Pat had an outstanding career in hockey, and we are very happy to see him rewarded with this great honor.”

McCreary is being induced in the referee/linesman category, having officiated 1,737 regular-season games and an NHL-record 292 playoff games from 1984 to 2011, which included 44 Stanley Cup Final games. He officiated in three Olympics (Nagano-1998, Salt Lake City-2002 and Vancouver-2010), including the gold-medal game at each.

While some years the inductions have brought some debate as to the worthiness of those announced, the Class of 2014 represents some of the highest level of individuals in all categories.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.

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