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Friday, September 16, 2016

Today In NHL History - 2004 NHL Lockout Begins

On September 16th in 2004, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2004-2005 season would not proceed as scheduled owing to a deadlock in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. What would have been the NHL's 88th offering was officially canceled on February 16, 2005. The dispute was ultimately resolved on July 22, 2005.
At the heart of the 310 day 2004 NHL Lockout was an owner proposed mechanism to link league revenues to player salaries in an attempt to lower the alleged 76% of gross revenues attributed to player costs and $273 million in collective owner losses during the 2002-2003 season. NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow disputed these financial findings and refused to allow a cap to be applied against player salaries.

In the end, a cap was born and a season lost marking the first time since 1919 without a Stanley Cup champion. Though the 1992 NHLPA strike and 1994 NHL Lockout disrupted play, never before had a North American major sports league lost an entire season to such strife. Among the side effects of the stalled season was a temporary global redistribution of NHL talent and a unique lottery system for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to direct Sidney Crosby and others to deserving teams.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Today In NHL History - Richard Brodeur

On September 15th in 1952, Richard Brodeur was born in Longueuil, Quebec. Stopping pucks for 16 seasons in the WHA (Nordiques: 7) and NHL (Islanders: 1, Canucks: 7.5, Whalers: .5), the pint-sized netminder won the Avco World Trophy with Quebec (1977) and led Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Finals (1982).

Skating seven seasons in the WHA before returning to the team that took him 97th overall in the 1972 Entry Draft, Brodeur found himself on the Islanders bench behind Billy Smith and Chico Resch. The next year he was traded to the Canucks and his NHL legend was born.

Trimming his regular season 3.35 GAA to a stingy 2.70 in the 1982 playoffs, King Richard forged an unlikely path through the Flames, Kings, and Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks Cinderella story ended, however, when he met his former team in the third of their four year dynasty.

Winning club MVP honors for three years ('81, '82, '85) before being traded to Hartford for Steve Weeks in 1988 and subsequently retiring from the game, Brodeur remains a West Coast hockey hero .

Today Richard resides in Vancouver playing with the Canucks Alumni team, teaching toddlers and teens his trade at King Richard Brodeur's Hockey School, supporting local charities through the Richard Brodeur Celebrity Golf Classic, and painting local landscapes and childhood hockey scenes that may be found on display at Diskin Galleries.

Richard Brodeur. Once a Canuck. Always a King.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today In NHL History - Jared McCann Hugs Ref

On September 13th in 2015, Vancouver Canucks prospect Jared McCann scored his first goal for the pro club during an all-rookie match-up against the Winnipeg Jets during the 2015 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.

What made the marker memorable was McCann's election to celebrate with the referee, engaging him in a long embrace and a pat on the head before his teammates arrived to rejoice the milestone.
When asked afterwards why he hugged the referee after whistling a wrist shot past netminder goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, McCann remarked "he looked lonely over there, he looked like he needed a hug". The Canucks added three more goals to beat the Jets rookie quad 4-1.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Anson Carter Snubs Canucks

On September 13th in 2006, Anson Carter rejected a one year $1.7 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks to skate with future Art Ross winning twins Henrik (2010) and Daniel Sedin (2011) on the 'Brothers Line', electing instead to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets for one year at $2.5 million.

Having led the team in goals (33) and earned the club's Most Exciting Player award (2006), Carter was confident he had a home in Vancouver and allegedly demanded a three year contract worth $9 million. The signings of the Sedins, Roberto Luongo and Willie Mitchell, however, depleted the club's resources for Carter.

The top line vacancy was eventually awarded to Alex Burrows who thrived with the Sedins and succeeded Anson as the Canucks Most Exciting Player for three consecutive seasons (2008, 2009, 2010).

Carter's tenure with Columbus lasted 54 games (27 pts) before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2008 5th round pick (Tomas Kubalik). Carter collected just one point in his 10 games with Carolina, skating only 64 games in what would be his final NHL season. Despite earning an invite to the Edmonton Oilers training camp the following season, the right winger failed to crack the roster.

And like that, he's gone.

Anson Carter's ten season NHL career spanning eight different teams (Capitals, Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes) was over at the age of 32. One can only wonder what might have been if Carter had renewed with the Canucks and skated with the Sedins as they entered their prime playing days. I wonder if player agent Pat Brisson overplayed his hand advising Anson to chase market value when a hometown discount would have been far richer.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Today In NHL History - Heatley Trade (OTT-SJS)

On September 12th in 2009, the Ottawa Senators shipped a disgruntled Dany Heatley and a 5th round pick in the 2010 Draft (Isaac MacLeod) to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathon Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson).

The two-time 50 goal scorer (2006, 2007) and Calder winning (2002) winger publicly demanded a trade three months earlier, a mere two years into his six year $45m deal with the club, handcuffing GM Bryan Murray into settling for less than market value for his prized possession.

The washed-up Rocket Richard winner (2006) Cheechoo mustered a measly 14 points in 61 games for the Sens and was bought out of the final year of his contract which would have paid $3.5m in 2010-2011. Heatley, meanwhile, enjoyed a 10 point improvement over his prior season skating with 1997 first rounders Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The tide of the trade finally turned in 2012 when Michalek outpointed (60pts v 53pts) and outscored (35G v 24G) Heatley at almost half the cap hit ($4.3m v $7.5m) to lead the Senators in scoring. Heatley posted his 2012 numbers for the Minnesota Wild, his third team in four years, after the Sharks swapped the winger for Martin Havlat on July 3, 2011.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

History of NHL Contraction

Since the league's inception in 1917, NHL expansion has welcomed 36 clubs to its hockey family. Of those teams, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have folded owing to financial failure. 

The chart below shows NHL contraction by year and team name.

Year       Folded Team Name
1918 Montreal Wanderers
1935 St. Louis Eagles^
1936 Philadelphia Quakers^
1946 Brooklyn Americans^^*
1947 Montreal Maroons
1978 Cleveland Barons**^

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
^ Team was victim of NHL Relocation

The footnotes above show, chronologically, the renaming and/or relocation of contracted teams prior to their demise.  The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.


The first team to fold was the Montreal Wanderers.  Formed in 1903 prior to joining the NHL in 1917, the Wanderers skated in only four NHL games (winning only one) before their home rink Montreal Arena burned down on January 2, 1918 ending their existence.

17 years passed before another club contracted. Born as the Ottawa Senators in 1883 and joining the NHL in 1917, the cash-strapped Senators relocated to St. Louis in 1934 as the St. Louis Eagles, folding after one season owing to poor divisional alignment and travel costs.


The next year the Philadelphia Quakers collapsed. Relocating after five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Quakers set a record for the NHL's worst win percentage suspending operations after one season before contracting five years later in 1936.


Skating one season in 1919 as the Quebec Bulldogs, the club relocated as the Hamilton Tigers playing five years before becoming the New York Americans in 1925, which was renamed the Brooklyn Americans in their final season in 1942 before folding in 1946.

Erected in 1924 to satisfy Montreal's anglophone hockey fans after losing the Wanderers in 1918, the Montreal Maroons fell victim to the Great Depression, playing their final game in 1938 and ultimately contracted in 1947 after several unsuccessful attempts to move.

Starting out as the California Seals in 1967, the club was renamed the Oakland Seals then the California Golden Seals before relocating as the Cleveland Barons, the franchise skated for two seasons in Cleveland before merging into the Minnesota North Stars in 1978.

Today's NHL frowns upon contracting and relocating teams. Despite financial difficulties plaguing several franchises over the years, the league elects to keep clubs in their current location whenever possible.

The NHL's recent actions in Phoenix supports this narrative, resuscitating the Coyotes for four years amidst enormous losses before finding new ownership which was subsequently approved by the Glendale counsel, averting almost certain relocation to Seattle or Quebec.

Since the NHL expanded beyond its Original Six 1967, only nine teams have relocated and just one has contracted (Cleveland Barons). Time will tell if contraction strikes again or if the NHL's 30 team structure is sustainable and instead NHL expansion is on the horizon.

* See also History of NHL Expansion.