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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Today In NHL History - Pronger Shanahan Trade

On July 27th in 1995, Hartford Whalers GM Jim Rutherford and St. Louis Blues GM Mike Keenan swapped second overall draft picks in Chris Pronger (1993) and Brendan Shanahan (1987), marking a rare exchange of matched talent.

Pronger's slower than expected development coupled with his rookie season bar room brawling and drunken driving led Hartford to move their baby-faced bruiser for some scoring punch in Shanahan.

Pronger remained in St. Louis for nine seasons, captaining the club for seven. Shanahan, however, left Hartford after one season in a trade sending him and Brian Glynn to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Keith Primeau, defenceman Paul Coffey, and a 1997 first-round draft pick (Nikos Tselios).

After five years working for the NHL as Vice-President of Hockey and Business Development and Chief Disciplinarian, Shanahan was named President of the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11, 2014.  Shanny was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 11, 2013.

Several blows to the head sidelined Pronger in December 2011. He has not skated since, nor does it appear he will ever return to the game, despite being under contract with the Philadelphia Flyers through 2017. On June 27, 2015, the Flyers traded his contract to the Arizona Coyotes for salary cap purposes. Three days later, Pronger was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Despite still technically an active player, Pronger was eligible for the honor owing to his three season absence at the time of induction.
Pronger currently works for the Florida Panthers in hockey operations.

The pair played a combined 39 NHL seasons resulting in over 2,600 games, 2,000 points, 4,000 penalty minutes, and four Stanley Cup wins. Internationally, they won three Olympic Gold Medals and three World Championships for Canada.  Both are Triple Gold Club members.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Today In NHL History - Claude Lemieux

On July 16th in 1965, Claude Percy Lemieux was born in Buckingham, Quebec. Best known for his postseason success and dirty play Lemieux suited up for six teams (MTL, NJD, COL, PHO, DAL, SJS) terrorizing NHL opponents for 21 seasons.

Taken 26th in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft the feisty winger fetched four Stanley Cup wins (1986, 1995, 1996, 2000) and a Conn Smythe (1995) becoming 1 of 9 to hoist with three different teams and 1 of 11 to win in consecutive seasons with distinct clubs (NJD 1995, COL 1996). Resting 9th overall with 80 playoff goals, Lemieux thrice lit the lamp more times in the postseason than the regular season (1986, 1995, 1997).

Boasting a resume of biting (Jim Peplinski), boarding (Kris Draper), and pregame fighting (PHI v. MTL), Lemieux's vicious acts have earned him 2nd place in ESPN's Most Hated NHL Players of All Time.

In 1997, the dirty deeds of playoffs past caught up with the cheapshot francophone in a now famous brawl between the Red Wings and Avalanche featuring Darren McCarty pummeling his turtled mass.
Lemieux retired on July 8, 2009 after a one-season stint with the Sharks.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Today In NHL History - Clarence Campbell

On July 9th in 1905, Clarence Sutherland Campbell was born in Fleming, Saskatchewan. The Rhodes Scholar lawyer turned NHL referee went on to hold the league's highest post for 31 years (1946-1977) after a sojourn as a lieutenant colonel in WWII and Queen's Counsel prosecuting Nazi crimes against humanity.

Moonlighting as an official in the CAHA while lawyering at an Edmonton firm, Campbell whistled his way to the NHL. He lasted three years, witnessing Howie Morenz's career-ending broken leg and even taking a punch from Bruins' bruiser Dit Clapper, before NHL President Frank Calder stole his stripes on the urging of Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe for an allegedly under-penalized incident that bloodied Red Horner.

Calder kept Campbell in the game, however, hiring him to work in the league office though he left shortly thereafter enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces. With Calder's passing in 1943 a reluctant Red Dutton presided until Campbell's return upon which the presidency was passed.

Major events that occurred during his tenure as NHL President include:

Campbell's accomplishments earned him a position in the Hockey Hall of Fame along with a conference (Campbell Conference) and trophy (Clarence Campbell Bowl) bearing his namesake. He died in 1984.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 106th season of operation (105th season of actual play), it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 105 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2017
82
30
1967-1968
74
12
2017-2020
82
31
1968-1970
76
12
2020-2021
56
31
1970-1972
78
14
2021-2023
82
32
1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 32 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 32 teams playing a 82 times a piece for a total of 1,312 games. Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013), a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), and COVID-19 suspending the 2019-2020 season and abbreviating the 2020-2021 season, most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation, embracing NHL expansion in Las Vegas (2017-2018) and Seattle (2021-2022) to achieve a 32 team league with division and conference balance.  

On the heels of 2013's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.

* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

Monday, July 4, 2022

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History

When two teams split the first six games of a best-of-seven playoff series, a 'winner take all' Game 7 is staged. Heroes are born and victors crowned in this high-stakes affair. Not surprisingly, Game 7s have produced some of the most memorable moments in NHL postseason history.
Once reserved solely for the Semifinal and Final rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the best-of-seven format was expanded to include the Quarterfinals in 1968 and Preliminary round in 1987. Of the 741 best-of-seven NHL playoff series played through 2022, 187 (25%) have resulted in a Game 7 with the home team holding a healthy 109-78 (58%) edge. The team that scores first has a 141-46 (75%) edge, including a 5-1 record in the 2022 postseason. 46 of the 187 (24%) Game 7s have gone to overtime, with the home and road teams each winning 24 times (53%).

Of the 187 Game 7s, 34 times a team trailing their series 3-1 won Game 7 and 4 times a team down 3-0 in their series won Game 7.  The most Game 7s in single playoff season is seven (1994, 2011, 2014). Only three times has a postseason gone without (1970, 1973, 1977).

Over the past 35 postseasons since the 1987 expansion of all series to best-of-seven, a Game 7 has been played in 143 of the 525 series. Put another way, 27% or approximately every 1 in 3.6 playoff series have gone to seven games. The chart below describes Game 7s by year, noting the number and round in which a seventh game(s) occurred.

Year: Game 7s (Round)                   Year: Game 7s (Round) 
1987: 5 (1P, 3Q, F) 2010: 4 (2P, 2Q)
1988: 3 (1P, 1Q, 1S) 2011: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F)
1989: 3 (2P, 1Q) 2012: 4 (3P, 1Q)
1990: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2013: 5 (3P, 2Q)
1991: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2014: 7 (3P, 3Q, 1S)
1992: 6 (6P) 2015: 5 (2P, 1Q, 2S)
1993: 4 (1P, 2Q, 1S) 2016: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
1994: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F) 2017: 3 (2Q, 1S)
1995: 4 (4P) 2018: 3 (1P, 1Q, 1S)
1996: 2 (1Q, 1S) 2019: 6 (3P, 2Q, F)
1997: 3 (3P) 2020: 3 (3Q)
1998: 1 (1Q) 2021: 3 (2P, 1S)
1999: 3 (2P, 1S) 2022: 6 (5P, 1Q)
2000: 3 (1P, 2S)
2001: 4 (3Q, F)
2002: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
2003: 6 (3P, 1Q, 1S, F)
2004: 5 (3P, 1S, F)
2006: 3 (1P, 1S, F)
2007: 1 (1P)
2008: 3 (3P)
2009: 6 (2P, 3Q, F)

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

Breaking it down by round, the most Game 7s over the past 35 seasons on a percentage basis have occurred in the Quarterfinal (41/140 = 29%), Preliminary (77/280 = 27%), Semifinal (19/70 = 27%), followed by the Stanley Cup Final (9/35 = 26%) round. Interestingly, 7 of the past 21 Finals and 7 of the past 17 Semifinals have been decided by a seventh game. In sum, the likelihood of a Game 7 in a NHL playoff series since 1987 is 1 in 3.4 for the Quarterfinal with a slight decrease to roughly 1 in 3.7 for the Preliminary round and Semifinal, and 1 in 3.9 for the Final.

The charts below show the total number of Game 7s played by each NHL team along with their win/loss records, with all-time statistics on the lefthand side and data since 1987 on the righthand side.

NHL Game 7s All-Time                   NHL Game 7s Since 1987
Team: Series (Record)       Team: Series (Record)
Boston: 29 (15-14) Boston: 18 (10-8)
Toronto: 26 (12-14) Pittsburgh: 17 (10-7)
Detroit: 25 (14-11) Washington: 16 (4-12)
Montreal: 24 (15-9) New Jersey: 15 (7-8)
Pittsburgh: 18 (10-8) Toronto: 15 (6-9)
St. Louis: 18 (10-8) Detroit: 14 (7-7)
New York*: 17 (11-6) New York*: 13 (11-2)
Philadelphia: 17 (9-8) San Jose: 12 (8-4)
Washington: 16 (4-12) Philadelphia: 12 (6-6)
New Jersey: 15 (7-8) St. Louis: 12 (6-6)
Chicago: 14 (7-7) Colorado: 12 (4-8)
Calgary: 13 (6-7) Montreal: 11 (8-3)
San Jose: 12 (8-4) Vancouver: 11 (6-5)
Los Angeles: 12 (7-5) Tampa Bay: 10 (7-3)
Colorado: 12 (4-8) Edmonton: 9 (6-3)
Edmonton: 11 (7-4) Los Angeles: 9 (6-3)
Vancouver: 11 (6-5) Anaheim: 9 (3-6)
Tampa Bay: 10 (7-3) Calgary: 9 (3-6)
New York**: 9 (4-5) Chicago: 8 (5-3)
Anaheim: 9 (3-6) Dallas: 8 (3-5)
Dallas: 8 (3-5) Carolina: 7 (6-1)
Carolina: 7 (6-1) New York**: 7 (3-4)
Minnesota^: 7 (3-4) Buffalo: 6 (1-5)
Buffalo: 7 (1-6) Ottawa: 6 (0-6)
Ottawa: 6 (0-6) Minnesota^^: 4 (3-1)
Minnesota^^: 4 (3-1) Vegas: 3 (2-1)
Vegas: 3 (2-1) Nashville: 3 (1-2)
Quebec: 3 (2-1) Arizona: 3 (0-3)
Nashville: 3 (1-2) Florida: 2 (1-1)
Arizona: 3 (0-3) Hartford: 2 (0-2)
Hartford: 3 (0-3) Minnesota^: 2 (0-2)
Florida: 2 (1-1) Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2)
Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2) Winnipeg+: 1 (1-0)
Winnipeg+: 1 (1-0) Quebec: 1 (0-1)
Oakland: 1 (0-1)

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders
^   Minnesota North Stars
^^ Minnesota Wild
~  Winnipeg Jets (1979-1996)
+  Winnipeg Jets (2011-Present)

Boston has skated in the most Game 7s (29) in NHL history with Boston and Montreal winning the most (15). Over the past 35 seasons, Boston has played more Game 7s (18) than anyone else but the New York Rangers have won the most (11). The Winnipeg Jets (2011-Present) have never lost a Game 7; Ottawa, Arizona, Hartford, Winnipeg (1979-1996) and Oakland have never won a Game 7; and Columbus and Seattle have never skated in one.

In terms of winning more than one Game 7 in a single postseason, 25 teams have done it twice with only two teams winning three best-of-seven series in a Game 7 in a single playoff (Boston 2011, Los Angeles 2014). The chart below lists all NHL teams that have ever won two or more Game 7s in a single postseason, indicating year and rounds in which they turned the trick.

NHL Game 7s Won Same Year
Year: Team (Round)
1950: Detroit (S, F)*
1964: Toronto (S, F)*
1968: St. Louis (Q, S)
1990: Chicago (P, Q)
1993: Toronto (P, Q)
1994: New York^ (S, F)*
2001: Colorado (Q, F)*
2002: Colorado (P, Q), Toronto (P, Q)
2003: Minnesota (P, Q), New Jersey (S, F)*
2004: Tampa Bay (S, F)*
2006: Carolina (S, F)*
2009: Carolina (P, Q), PIT (Q, F)*
2010: Montreal (P, Q)
2011: Boston (P, S, F)*
2012: New York^ (P, Q)
2014: Los Angeles (P, Q, S)*
2015: Tampa Bay (P, S)
2016: St. Louis (P, Q)
2017: Pittsburgh (Q, S)*
2019: San Jose (P, Q), St. Louis (Q, F)*
2022: Carolina (P, Q), New York^ (P, Q)


* Stanley Cup Champion
^ New York Rangers

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

The 2022 postseason featured six Game 7s, with the team that scores first going 5-1, home teams holding a 4-2 record, and one recovering from a 3-1 series deficit.
Game 7 ... kill or be killed.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0.
* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1

Four teams took a 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven series in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Three teams advanced (Edmonton, Colorado [2]) and one went home (Pittsburgh). While a 3-1 lead is always a good thing, it's never a sure thing.

Through 2022, teams have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series 325 times.  Only 31 times has the trailing team comeback to win the series. Put another way, the team with a 3-1 series lead wins 90% of the time with the down-and-nearly-out team recovering only 10% of the time.

The chart below describes all 31 comebacks by year, team and round.

Year       Matchup Round
1942   Toronto over Detroit   Final 
1975 New York* over Pittsburgh   Preliminary
1987 New York* over Washington Preliminary

Detroit over Toronto Quarterfinal
1988 Washington over Philadelphia Quarterfinal
1989 Los Angeles over Edmonton Preliminary
1990 Edmonton over Winnipeg Preliminary
1991 St. Louis over Detroit Preliminary
1992 Detroit over Minnesota^ Preliminary

Vancouver over Winnipeg Preliminary

Pittsburgh over Washington Preliminary
1994 Vancouver over Calgary Preliminary
1995 Pittsburgh over Washington Preliminary
1998 Edmonton over Colorado Preliminary
1999 St. Louis over Phoenix Preliminary
2000 New Jersey over Philadelphia Semifinal
2003 Minnesota^^ over Colorado  Preliminary

Vancouver over St. Louis Preliminary

Minnesota^^ over Vancouver  Quarterfinal
2004 Montreal over Boston    Preliminary
2009 Washington over New York**      Preliminary
2010 Montreal over Washington Preliminary

Philadelphia over Boston Quarterfinal
2011 Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh Preliminary
2013 Chicago over Detroit Quarterfinal
2014 Los Angeles over San Jose Preliminary

New York** over Pittsburgh Quarterfinal
2015 New York** over Washington Quarterfinal
2019 San Jose over Vegas Preliminary
2021 Montreal over Toronto Preliminary
2022 New York** over Pittsburgh Preliminary

*   New York Islanders
** New York Rangers
^   Minnesota North Stars
^^ Minnesota Wild

In the 35 seasons since all playoff rounds were expanded to best-of-seven series in 1987, 29 teams have comeback from a 3-1 deficit to win their series. In the 17 postseasons since the 2004 NHL Lockout, however, only 11 teams (Washington 2009, Montreal 2010, Philadelphia 2010, Tampa Bay 2011, Chicago 2013, Los Angeles 2014New York 2014, New York 2015, San Jose 2019, Montreal 2021, New York 2022) have turned the trick. Breaking it down by round, such comebacks have happened only once in the Stanley Cup Final (Toronto 1942) and Semifinal (New Jersey 2000), and 7 times in the Quarterfinal (Detroit 1987, Washington 1988, Minnesota 2003, Philadelphia 2010, Chicago 2013, New York 2014, New York 2015), with the remaining 22 comebacks occurring during the Preliminary round.

Of the 31 teams that completed the comeback, six won the Stanley Cup (Toronto 1942, Edmonton 1990, Pittsburgh 1992New Jersey 2000, Chicago 2013, Los Angeles 2014) and four more made it to the Final but failed to hoist the hardware (Vancouver 1994, Philadelphia 2010, New York 2014, Montreal 2021).


Only one team has ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit twice in the same playoff (Minnesota 2003). Similarly, only one team has ever comeback down 3-1 and blown a 3-1 lead in the same postseason (Vancouver 2003).

The chart below lists all teams involved in such 3-1 series comebacks, showing the total number of series involving such circumstances and their overall win/loss record.

Team       Series      Record
Washington     
7     
2-5
Pittsburgh
6     
2-4
Detroit
5     
2-3
New York**
4     
3-1
Vancouver
4     
3-1
Montreal
3     
3-0
Edmonton
3     
2-1
St. Louis
3     
2-1
Philadelphia     
3     
1-2
Toronto     
3     
1-2
Los Angeles
2     
2-0
Minnesota^^
2     
2-0
New York*
2     
2-0
San Jose
2     
1-1
Boston
2     
0-2
Colorado
2     
0-2
Winnipeg
2     
0-2
Chicago
1     
1-0
New Jersey
1     
1-0
Tampa Bay
1     
1-0
Arizona
1     
0-1
Calgary
1     
0-1
Minnesota^
1     
0-1
Vegas
1     
0-1

*   New York Islanders
** New York Rangers

^   Minnesota North Stars
^^ Minnesota Wild

Only AnaheimBuffalo, Carolina, Columbus, DallasFlorida, Nashville, Ottawa, Seattle and Winnipeg (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) have never comeback from a 3-1 series deficit or blown a 3-1 series lead.  Montreal, Vancouver and the New York Rangers lead all teams in comebacks trailing a series 3-1 with three series wins.  Conversely, Washington has blown more 3-1 series leads than any other team, squandering five such series.

It's worth noting that in the 17 postseasons since the 2004 NHL Lockout, 16 teams have squandered a 3-1 series lead only to stave off elimination by winning Game 7.  They are Carolina (2006, 2009), Vancouver (2007, 2011), Montreal (2008), Philadelphia (2008), San Jose (2011), Boston (2013, 2018), Los Angeles (2014), St. Louis (2016), Pittsburgh (2017), Dallas (2020), New York Islanders (2020) and Vegas (2020, 2021).  Eight of these games were decided by one goal and six in overtime.
In sum, with a 10% chance of recovery for teams trailing their series 3-1, it's statistically likely their season will soon end.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets.