Mark Messier was one of three recipients of the Order of Hockey in Canada for his contributions to the game.
Messier, who won six Stanley Cups during a Hall of Fame career with Edmonton, the New York Rangers and Vancouver, was honored along with Paul Henderson and coach Dave King.
During a two-hour ceremony held on Parliament Hill, Messier broke down as he spoke of the national pride he felt as a young boy watching Henderson score the goal that sealed Canada's hockey supremacy over the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series.
Others who have been awarded the Hockey Canada honor include Jean Beliveau, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Gord Renwick.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the ceremony and paid tribute to recipients.