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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Today In NHL History - Thornton Trade (BOS-SJS)

On November 30th in 2005, Boston Bruins GM Mike O'Connell traded the jewel of the 1997 Draft to Doug Wilson's San Jose Sharks for first rounders Wayne Primeau (17th in 1994), Marco Sturm (21st in 1996), and Brad Stuart (3rd in 1998), stunning pundits from coast to coast.

Blindsided by the deal, Joe Thornton went on to win the Art Ross and Hart trophies in his west coast debut, cinching the Rocket Richard for linemate Jonathan Cheechoo en route.

The Bruins fired O'Connell four months later launching a successful rebuilding campaign that yielded the 2011 Stanley Cup, though none of the players from this trade were on that winning roster.  The Sharks have yet to skate in a Stanley Cup Final, though they've twice qualified for the Western Conference Final (2010, 2011) since the trade.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Ballard Slashes Vokoun

On November 30th in 2009, Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard bloodied teammate Tomas Vokoun with a vicious slash to the head after Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk scored halfway through the first period.

Vokoun exited on a stretcher after a 10 minute delay and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The Czech netminder escaped serious injury, needing only 10 stitches to repair his ear. An apologetic Ballard was neither penalized nor suspended for the act. Atlanta beat Florida that night by a score of 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Today In NHL History - Billy Smith's Goal

On November 28, 1979, New York Islanders netminder Billy Smith became the first goaltender to be credited with a goal in a NHL game.

Blindly playing the puck to the blueline, Colorado Rockies defenceman Rob Ramage watched his pass slide the length of the ice into his now empty thanks to an astute move by his goalie on a delayed penalty. Smith, being the last offensive player to touch, was credited with the marker.

It would be another eight years before a goalie scored a goal in the NHL by shooting the puck into an empty net. Ron Hextall holds that honor.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today In NHL History - NHL Is Born

On November 26th in 1917, the NHL was born out of discussions commencing four days prior amongst disgruntled NHA owners at Montreal's Windsor Hotel.

Struggling to survive amidst WWI enlistment and intense ownership disputes, four of the five NHA franchises (Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs) elected to leave behind troublesome Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone and the NHA. Their new league was named the NHL.

Surviving years of expansion, contraction, franchise relocation and renaming in its infancy, the NHL eventually settled into a six team structure in 1942 before ultimately filling out into its current 30 team, four division and two conference structure in 2013.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Malik's Shootout Goal

On November 26th in 2005, New York Rangers defenceman Marek Malik scored on Olaf Kölzig of the Washington Capitals ending the then-longest overtime shootout in NHL history.

The memorable marker, Malik's first in 21 months, came in the 15th round of the encore, giving New York a 3-2 win over Washington.

In 2014, the Capitals found themselves in the now-longest shootout in NHL history, losing to the Florida Panthers in the 20th round.  Sadly, Nick Bujstad did not mimic Malik's move to end the 18 minute affair.
That's today in NHL history.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Today In NHL History - First Female Commentator

On November 25th in 2009, Sherry Ross became the first female play-by-play announcer to call an entire NHL game in English. The milestone occurred at the Prudential Center in a match featuring the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils, which the home team won 3-1. The historical event may be heard here.

With Devils radio regular Matt Loughlin absent due to the death of his father-in-law, Ross shifted from her regular role as the two-season color commentator for the team to assume play-by-play responsibilities for the evening with former Devils forward Rob Skrlac coloring her call.

Ross once performed play-by-play duties for 20 minutes 16 years earlier when Devil's announcer Gary Thorne arrived late owing to a delayed flight, but no woman had ever before called an entire game in English. Women have, however, broadcasted games in French for RDS.

That's today in NHL history.