Rod Langway had the shortest wait for this day, Bernie Federko didn't even know this was the day, and Clark Gillies and Roger Neilson had it circled on their calendars for other reasons.
Each was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Langway was a defensive defenseman who twice won the Norris Trophy as the league's top blue-liner. He played 15 seasons, tallying only 51 goals, the last 11 with the Washington Capitals after starting his career with the Montreal Canadiens.
He won one Stanley Cup in Montreal, playing with another Hall of Fame defenseman, Larry Robinson.
"It's a great honor, I can't believe it," said Langway, a native of Randolph, Mass. "Everyone says the same thing, but it is something special and it's just the icing on the cake for my career."
Langway, 45, was eligible last year but in a heavy year of candidates didn't make the cut, which can't exceed four inductees. This year's class will be inducted Nov. 4.
"Just being on the ballot is great," he said. "I don't think I worried about being passed over, but I can't believe I'm in."
Federko, 46, played 13 seasons with the St. Louis Blues, then his last with the Detroit Red Wings. He had four 100-point seasons and reached 1,000 career points in 1988 - two seasons before he retired.
He hoped to become a Hall of Famer, but many years past since he became eligible and he stopped paying attention to the selection process.
"I think that I was always patient and hoping that it was going to happen some day," he said. "I was really caught off-guard. I didn't even know that it was happening today or that the selection committee was meeting.
"In fact, I thought this was done in September, so it shows how much I know."
Gillies, 48, was a member of the New York Islanders' four Stanley Cup championship teams from 1980-83, playing on an overpowering line that included Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound left wing had six 30-goal seasons and retired in 1988 - following two seasons with Buffalo - with 319 goals and 697 points.
Gillies was not available for Wednesday's conference call because he was en route to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.
Langway missed Gillies on the call, but not when the two battled in the physical Patrick Division.
"I was pretty glad that Clark played on the left side, not the right," he said. "You had a tough time going into the corners with him."
Neilson was the only non-player honored Wednesday, starting a day that was already going to be memorable for the longtime vagabond coach. Neilson, elected as a builder of hockey, was preparing for a charity roast in his honor later that evening in Toronto.
Proceeds will benefit Hockey Fights Cancer and the newly established charitable Roger Neilson Hockey Fund. Neilson has been battling a form of bone cancer for nearly three years.
"To all of a sudden get this, it's just kind of an extra thing on top," said Neilson, who turned 68 Sunday. "It seems like it's amazing. I don't think I relate it to the off-ice battles at all. All I know is I'm really happy and proud about it today."
Known for his vast collection of extravagantly designed ties, Neilson said he would just pick one out of the pile to wear to his dinner.
If he was asked to select a hat to wear on his plaque, like baseball Hall of Famers do, Neilson, also labeled "Captain Video" for introducing the benefits of videotape as a teaching tool, said he wasn't sure what it would be.
He had so many to pick from.
Neilson was a head coach in the NHL with Toronto, Buffalo, Vancouver, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers, Florida and Philadelphia. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma while coaching Philadelphia in 1999, and took a leave from the team only to be replaced at season's end.
He just completed his second season as an assistant with the Ottawa Senators, but served two games late in the season in place of Jacques Martin in order to reach 1,000 games as a head coach.
This year's 18-member selection committee, made up of hockey executives, former players, sports writers and broadcasters, was chaired by NHL senior vice president Jim Gregory.
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