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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today In NHL History - First Black Player In NHL

On January 18th in 1958, Willie O'Ree dressed for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens becoming the first black person to play in the NHL. The Fredericton native skated in 45 NHL games, collecting four goals and ten assists, before leaving the league in 1961.


O'Ree went on to play for 13 years in the WHL, primarily with the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls, winning two league scoring titles (1964, 1968) in the process. Today, O'Ree serves as the NHL's Director of Youth Development and Ambassador for Diversity.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Flames Line Brawl Canucks

On January 18th in 2014, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley iced his fourth line brawlers to commence CBC's Hockey Day In Canada finale. Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella reluctantly responded in-kind igniting a line brawl yielding 152 penalty minutes and eight player ejections two seconds into the match. Sensing the imminent ambush, veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa swapped spots with rookie Kellan Lain to win his first ever NHL faceoff before being jumped by winger-turned-center Kevin Westgarth. Traveling 4,400 kilometers from Oakville, Ontario to witness their son's first NHL game, Kellan's parents instead saw him ejected after 2 seconds of ice-time resulting in a fight and 15 penalty minutes.

Fuming from the incident, Tortorella berated Hartley on the bench and then met him outside the Flames' dressing room between periods to finish personally delivering his thoughts on the affair; a shortsighted gesture likely to result in a suspension and fine. 
Questioned about his decision to match Hartley's fourth line bruisers to begin the game, Torts explained he had no choice.

"I see the starting lineup and I know the other guys across the bench and it's easy for people to say well put the Sedins out there and it's deflated.  I can't put our players at risk that way.  With the lineup he [Hartley] had I'm not going to put those types of players at risk.  And that's what ensues.  I'm not proud of it.  I've apologized to every one of the players involved in it.  I don't feel great about it at all.  Especially [Kellan] Lain.  That's my biggest mistake is putting Lane in that lineup.  And I'll kick myself forever not having someone else there but I'd do the same thing again if it came that way because I cannot put anyone else out there not knowing what's going to happen and knowing the other guy [Hartley] across from me."

While Torts was mum about the purpose and potential ramifications of his excursion to the visitor's dressing room between periods, Flames coach Hartley described the scene and refuted any suggestion his opening lineup presumed foul play remarking, "those guys are playing well for us, they got us a goal last game, we had absolutely zero intention there".

Instigator Kevin Westgarth, on the other hand, was a bit more candid in his assessment of the opening draw, noting the team's struggles of late and his role to "get the boys going anyway I can".

Short four skaters aside, the teams played 65 minutes with 204 penalty minutes, collecting 33 shots each and combining for 33 hits with top defensive pairs logging over 33 minutes (including a 38:05 minute effort from Dennis Wideman, the most minutes logged in a NHL regular season game in 11 years), and #33 leaving after 40 minutes owing to injury.

The Canucks took the shootout's 5th round to beat the Flames by a final score of 3-2, ending a wild night between the Pacific Division rivals.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Owen Nolan's Called Shot

On January 18th in 1997, San Jose Sharks forward Owen Nolan called his shot and scored on a breakaway against Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek with 2 minutes left in the 47th NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, completing the hat trick and sending hometown fans into a frenzy.
Hasek's Eastern Team defeated Nolan's Western Squad 11-7 with MVP honors going to Mark Recchi who hat tricked for the winning side.

That's today in NHL history

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bure Trade (VAN-FLA)

On January 17th in 1999, Vancouver Canucks superstar Pavel Bure was traded to the Florida Panthers along with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference, and a third round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (Robert Fried) in exchange for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and a first round pick in 2000 (Nathan Smith).

The seeds of the trade were sewn on July 5, 1998 when Bure demanded a trade for personal reasons, later revealed to include alienation by management coupled with several bitter contract negotiations, claiming he would never again play for the club. He didn't and Canucks GM Brian Burke eventually orchestrated a trade with Panthers GM Bryan Murray.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today In NHL History - Malkin Boards Mitchell

On January 16th in 2010, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoved defenseman Willie Mitchell head first into the boards with his team trailing by four goals with 7 minutes to play.

Mitchell sustained a concussion on the play forcing him to miss the remaining 105 days (46 games) of the Vancouver Canucks season and jeopardizing his off-season free agent value. Malkin, meanwhile, received a mere minor penalty and miraculously escaped NHL suspension.

Sixteen weeks later Willie spoke to the media for the first time since the incident, describing his recovery and calling out Colin Campbell for failing to control such on-ice incidents through supplemental discipline.

The Canucks beat the Penguins that night by a score of 6-2.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Malkin Fights Zetterberg.

Today In NHL History - Ott's Shootout No Goal

On January 16th in 2010, Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott was stopped on his first ever shootout attempt by Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Despite an emphatic no goal call by perfectly positioned referee Rob Martell, the ruling was reversed by the NHL on video review.

Appalled by the call, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock exclaimed "The video replay showed the puck didn't go in the net, I thought that's why we had video replay". Dallas beat Detroit that night by a score of 3-2 on the strength of the NHL's video review blunder in shootout's 6th round.

That's today in NHL history.