In this part of the hockey world, utter the name Derian Hatcher and you’ll peel open a slow-to-heal scar in the psyche of the locals. After all, this is the guy who helped break their hearts by captaining his Dallas Stars over their beloved Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Ironically, Buffalo has been good to Hatcher. HSBC Arena has played host to two of the NHL All-Star defenseman’s crowning achievements, the first being his hoisting of the Cup; the second coming on Thursday, when he joined brother Kevin and superstar winger Jeremy Roenick in being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
[DHatcher2010] “Over the last 10 years, every time you come back in here you always have that feeling of excitement,” the younger Hatcher said, recollecting that late night — technically early morning — in June 1999. “Every time I go in the locker room or walk in here, you always think of that right away. Obviously over the past few days I’ve thought about it a lot.”
But the 37-year-old veteran of 16 NHL seasons concedes representing the U.S. in the Olympics (1998, 2006) and helping the Americans capture the 1996 World Cup were as big of a thrill as securing Lord Stanley’s coveted prize.
Well, that and being a 13-year-old kid back in Sterling Heights, Mich., and watching his older brother, Kevin, play in the NHL.
“In the player profile stuff they’d always ask ‘Who was your favorite player growing up?’ ‘Who did you watch?’ and it was always Kevin,” Derian said. “My parents had one of those giant satellite dishes so we’d watch him play every night.”
Kevin, 44, said being inducted with his brother made Thursday night’s enshrinement that much more of an honor, what he termed “living the dream.”
“Hopefully I was able to teach him a little bit,” the older Hatcher said with a grin. “When he includes me in (among his influences), it means a lot to me.”
Kevin, a five-time NHL All-Star, got the Hatcher offensive genes, collecting 227 goals and 450 assists over 17 seasons and becoming just the seventh blueliner in league history to score 30 goals in a season, with 34 in 1992-93 with the Washington Capitals. Derian, on the other hand, inherited the family mean streak, blending a punishing style with remarkable hockey sense to become one of the league’s best and most feared rearguards.
Roenick hardly needs such a description. Almost immediately after joining the Chicago Blackhawks as a 19-year-old in 1989, the Boston native and product of Massachusetts’ Thayer Academy morphed into one of the greatest U.S.-born and trained players of all time. He was a major contributor to both junior and men’s U.S. international squads over three decades and one of hockey’s most colorful, prolific personalities.
[Roenick2010] Equal parts bombast and sheer skill, “JR” turned his intensity and passion for hockey into 513 goals (the second-most by an American), 703 assists, nine All-Star selections and numerous Olympic and international roster spots. He also got to know Derian Hatcher pretty well as an opponent, and some of their notorious on-ice escapades are still part of NHL playoff folklore.
Roenick, now 40 and working as a commentator with NBC’s NHL crew, says he wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything, though, no matter how many bruises, stitches and headaches he received from his former World Cup and Olympic teammate.
“Derian and I made each other better hockey players,” Roenick said. “We had to compete against each other. He was a fierce warrior and I was a fierce warrior and we played the game extremely hard, played the game the way it was supposed to be played.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.