NEWS
11/07/2015 16:50 EST | Updated 11/07/2016 00:12 EST

Inductees trade barbs with each other at Hockey Hall of Fame fan forum

TORONTO — Chris Pronger loved to get into opponents' heads during his Hall of Fame playing career.

"You knew you were in someone's kitchen when they started talking back," Pronger said. "They were on the hook."

Pronger and his fellow members of the Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2015 haven't forgotten how to rib each other. On Saturday afternoon at the annual fan forum, inductees Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley and Angela Ruggiero traded plenty of barbs with each other and those in attendance.

Even when Housley credited Fedorov for landing a big hit on him, the Russian star turned the tables.

"I hit him, but we both can agree it was his fault," Fedorov said. "I said it was an accident because Phil was impossible to hit because he was so smooth. ... We both understood that it was his fault."

Fedorov and Housley can laugh about it now. They'll go into the Hall of Fame together on Monday night.

Pronger can also laugh about his battles against Lidstrom, Fedorov and the Detroit Red Wings. One fan told Lidstrom he made a lot of money betting on the Red Wings, so when Pronger referenced the Edmonton Oilers' playoff victory against Detroit in 2006, he looked right back at that fan.

"Sorry about your gambling losses there," Pronger said with a smile.

When host Gord Stellick asked Pronger about getting under other players' skin, the longtime intimidating defender-turned executive in the NHL's department of player safety quipped, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Ruggiero certainly did, recalling how much she liked to annoy Canadian forwards during many U.S.-Canada games over the years.

"I'm sure they'll remember me forever," she said.

Fedorov remembers playing against Pronger, too, but said he never talked back because often players were bigger, stronger and tougher than he was. Lidstrom loved playing with yappers Darren McCarty and Kris Draper but let them do the talking.

"They could play but they could also chirp," Lidstrom said. "I kept my mouth shut."

Ruggiero poked fun at Fedorov's old white Nike skates, and Fedorov took a question about why he left the Red Wings in 2003 and left it with, "I'm going to blame the agents."

Pronger, who's still technically active because he's on the Arizona Coyotes' roster despite not playing a game for three years, had no trouble getting a laugh out of his situation.

"I haven't gotten a jersey yet, so I don't know what number I'm going to be," Pronger said. "I'm taking suggestions."

On more serious topics, Pronger said he was doing pretty well considering the concussion problems that ended his playing days, and Housley told the kids in attendance to play as many sports as they can, not just hockey.

Fedorov told the story of how he defected after an exhibition game ahead of the 1990 Goodwill Games. After getting back to the team hotel, he told roommate Sergei Tchekmarev, the team masseur, to take all his money because he was leaving.

Tchekmarev didn't believe Fedorov and said, "What are you talking about? Let's go to dinner." Worried that the Pronger-sized Tchekmarev would carry him to the elevator and up to see the coach, Fedorov instead saw Jim Lites of the Red Wings and said the only English he knew: "Let's go, Jim."

Several hours later, Fedorov was in Detroit to start the next chapter of his career.

All five player inductees agreed that fighting would continue to decrease in hockey but never go away completely.

"Fans have the option," Ruggiero said. "Go to MMA if you want real fighting."

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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press