Ric Nattress has always been a little uncomfortable with accolades — in fact, when the Stanley Cup-winning defenceman found out he was among this year's crop of Hamilton Huskies Hall of Fame inductees, he was actually puzzled.
Wasn't there anyone better?
"I was more of a team player all my life," he told The Spectator. "In that sense, these types of awards — the recognition part — I don't think I've ever wanted. I didn't play the game for it, so when it comes, it's humbling."
On Wednesday, the Huskies announced plans for the organization's second annual alumni day celebration, including its newest batch of inductees. They'll be honoured at a banquet dinner June 26.
In addition to Nattress, one individual and two teams enter the Hall — Ken "Doc" Evans, the Hamilton Reps Major Bantam AAAs and the Calder Cup-winning Hamilton Bulldogs.
They've all had a hand in building hockey in Hamilton, said Huskies' general manager Mike Spadafora, whether it was through their on-ice play or off-ice contributions.
"When you look back at what they did for us — the community stuff — those are the things that really hit home for us," he added.
Take Nattress. On top of a successful NHL career and a stint in radio broadcasting, the Hamilton native and Huskies alumnus spearheaded the Skate the Dream program, which helps break down the barriers that prevent local kids from learning to skate and play hockey. That's among the many reasons for his induction in the athlete category.
"The influences that I had coming through the Huskies organization year after year were very positive and led me to the path I'm still on," the 52-year-old said. "It was a big part of my life."
Evans, a co-founder of the Hamilton Huskies Minor Hockey Association and the organization's inaugural president, likewise strove to make the sport more accessible. He enters the hall as a builder.
"The major reason we started this organization in the first place was because we were concerned that the kids in Hamilton didn't have enough programs to get them to higher levels of hockey," he said.
"Now, every time I hear about someone from the Huskies organization that goes on — whether it's junior hockey or professional hockey — it gets me in here," Evans added, tapping his chest.
The Major Bantams, which boasted Hobey Baker finalist Dave Brown and former Bulldog Kyle Hagel, earned a nod in the team category for their achievements in the 2000-01 campaign. That season, the squad captured the Alliance League Championship and a silver medal at the OHL Cup.
Finally, the 2007 Bulldogs enter the Hall as recipients of the Hamilton Hockey Award, which honours a significant moment in the city's hockey history. Backstopped by a teenaged Carey Price, the AHL club defeated the Hershey Bears in five games to earn its first and only Calder Cup.
In addition to the Hall of Fame dinner, the Huskies are also hosting a golf tournament at King's Forest as part of its alumni day celebration. For more information, visit hamiltonhuskies.ca.