TORONTO – Two things Canada is most known for, whether it likes it or not, are hockey and ex-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
So it is perhaps only fitting that Canada's national pastime and one of its most internationally recognizable people would team up. Ford, who became a global sensation in 2013 after admitting he'd smoked crack cocaine, has been appointed to the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum's board of directors, the hall announced Saturday.
Ford was diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma last year, a rare type of soft tissue cancer, forcing him to quit his bid for re-election for mayor. He ran for his old seat in city council instead and won.
Ford said he got good news this week from his doctors and will undergo surgery May 11 to remove a cancerous tumor in his abdomen. He said he was told chemotherapy and radiation have shrunk the tumor to a size where the doctors can operate.
The Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame elected Ford and two other city councilors to its board at a member's meeting on March 25, spokesman Kelly Masse said Saturday. Ford won't be involved in selecting the hall's inductees.
Ford, better known as a serious football fan, said he played hockey as a youth and that he would do as much as he could to support the game as he recovers from surgery.
"I've got season tickets to the Leafs and I'm obsessed with hockey and obviously football, but hockey's my number one sport and I'm going to try to just keep pushing it," he said, referring to Toronto's storied hockey team.
Ford acknowledged in 2013 after months of denials he had smoked crack cocaine in one of his "drunken stupors," but he refused to resign. He behaved erratically and became the target of jokes for U.S. comedians. The City Council stripped Ford of most of his powers but lacked the authority to force him out of office because he wasn't convicted of a crime.
Ford abruptly dropped his bid for re-election as mayor in September. Days later his doctor announced he had a rare and difficult cancer that would require aggressive chemotherapy.
Doctors have expressed optimism that next month's surgery will be successful, Ford said.
"It feels like I've got a thousand pounds off my back, I can obviously think a lot clearer now because when you don't know whether you're going to live or die it's not a very good feeling and I was thinking that every night," he said.