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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today In NHL History - Randy Moller

On August 23rd in 1963, Randall Moller was born in Red Deer, Alberta. Raised by Lethbridge's Broncos, Randy's teenage scoring touch and fisticuffs earned him the 11th overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Relegated to an enforcement role from the outset, Moller collected 1692 penalty minutes and 45 goals in 14 NHL seasons.

Today Moller makes his living calling the action as a play-by-play announcer for the Florida Panthers on Sports Talk 790. His claim to fame is incorporating fan requested pop culture references into his goal calls. What he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in enthusiasm.




That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Today In NHL History - Buble and Shorthouse Sing

On August 20th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks superfan Michael Bublé and play-by-play personality John Shorthouse joined the ranks of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra tweaking Bob Hope's rendition of the 1938 Academy Award winning classic "Thanks for the Memory", this time in a touching tribute to the club's retiring colorman Tom Larscheid during a hometown sold-out stop on Bublé's Crazy Love tour.

Thanks for the memories
The dinners on the plane, all that weight I gained
Wondering when this hockey team would win another game
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Pavel Bure's blazing speed, Henrik's perfect feeds
Bingo Bango Bongo, when Luongo left his feet
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Your leaving is the pits, we'll all miss you to bits
My favorite call of all, was when you called bullshit
Thanks for the memories

The seeds of the performance were sewn when Bublé shared the broadcast booth with Shorthouse coloring a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kerrisdale kid accepted the Burnaby crooner's invitation to one day join him onstage. Eighteen months later Shorty made good on his postgame promise producing this dazzling duet.
Clearly more comfortable calling puck than singing standards, Shorthouse sweated through the serenade like a pro. The memorable performance was followed by a succinct video salutation to the 33 year veteran voice, climaxing with an appearance by the living legend himself.

In the end, it was Bublé who found the perfect words to memorialize the man: "you're a beauty Tom, you're a beauty." A fitting farewell to a beloved member of the Canucks family. How lovely it was, indeed.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Today in NHL History - Gretzky Trade (EDM-LA)

On August 9th in 1988, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sold the greatest player in the history of the game to the Kings for two players, three picks, and millions in cash.

Considered the most storied transaction in NHL history, the move sent Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski south for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round draft picks (1989, 1991, 1993), and $15 million. The Oilers traded the 1989 pick (Jason Miller) to New Jersey for Corey Foster and used their remaining selections to take Martin Rucinsky (1991) and Nick Stajduhar (1993).

Backlash in Canada to the barter was swift and fierce as fans showered Pocklington with death threats, labeling Gretzky a traitor and his wife Janet Jones a witch. NDP House Leader Nelson Riis went so far as to demand that the Canadian government block the trade.

Days later Jones broke Gretzky's silence clearing the record as to how the trade transpired, laying blame squarely on Pocklington's frame.

Both teams survived and even thrived with the Oilers winning without Wayne in 1990 and The Great One leading his Kings to the Finals in 1993.

The main beneficiary of the move, however, was the league. When Gretzky relocated to Los Angeles the NHL had 15 U.S. franchises, none south of Washington D.C. and only one west of St. Louis. Today that number sits at 23 with several franchises situated in the ice-melting heat of the Sun Belt. Absent Wayne's eight season stay in the Golden State it's hard to imagine such growth would have occurred. That's today in NHL history.

Monday, July 27, 2015

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.

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

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.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

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.