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Monday, November 5, 2018

Today In NHL History - Ruutu Punks Phaneuf

On November 5th in 2005, Vancouver Canucks resident pest Jarkko Ruutu punked Calgary Flames rookie defenseman Dion Phaneuf, flirting with fisticuffs then falling the 2003 first round draft pick with his stick. Adding injury to insult, Phaneuf was assessed a two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play. Calgary survived the ensuing 5-on-3 powerplay, four minutes into the final frame, and held on to beat Vancouver that night by a score of 1-0.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Béliveau's Hat Trick

On November 5th in 1955, Jean Béliveau scored three powerplay goals in 44 seconds against Boston Bruins netminder Terry Sawchuck collecting the fastest hat trick in Montreal Canadiens club history.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Montreal unit of Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Jean Béliveau, Maurice Richard, and Bert Olmstead dominated Boston with a two-man advantage as sin-binners Cal Gardner and Hal Laycoe looked on. The hat trick remains the second fastest in NHL history behind Bill Mosienko's 21 second effort in 1952. Le Gros Bill added an even strength score en route to a 4-2 win.

The performance resulted in a rule change, passed on a 5-1 vote prior to the 1956-57 season, allowing players serving minor penalties to return after a single power play goal. Naturally, Montreal opposed the proposal.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Today In NHL History - Plante's Goalie Mask

On November 1st in 1959, Jacques Plante took a wrist shot in the face from Hart winner Andy Bathgate. Seven stitches and 21 minutes later, Plante returned wearing a mask to the chagrin of Canadiens coach Toe Blake, forever changing the face of NHL goaltending.

Plante had been using the homemade mask during practices but no goalie ever wore one in a game.  Despite Blake's protest, Plante refused to return to the ice without additional protection and Blake had no backup.  The Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers by a score of 3–1.

Plante maintained the mask long after his injury healed launching an 18 game unbeaten streak in the process.  Ironically, the streak snapped when Blake requested the seven-time Vezina winner and six-time Stanley Cup champion to remove the mask, resulting in a 3-0 loss to Detroit.

Interestingly, prior to his "Let's Make A Deal" television fame, Monty Hall was a radio analyst for the New York Rangers during the 1959-1960 season and covered the game at issue.  In a recent interview with Marc Maron for the WTF podcast, Monty recalls the injury, ensuing delay and the moment a masked-Plante returned to the resounding disapproval of MSG fans who showered the backstop with boos.

A comprehensive history of this landmark NHL moment has been scribed by Stu Hackel of The New York Times and may be found here.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Today In NHL History - Helm's Halloween Costume

On October 31st in 2010, Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm dressed up as his locker room stallmate and sometimes linemate Todd Bertuzzi, complete with matching fake tattoos courtesy of Jeff Shea at Wholeshot Tattoo and favorite pieces from the veteran's wardrobe.

Triple-taken by the sight of Helm when arriving at the team's Halloween party, Bertuzzi described the costume and ensuing impersonation as "awesome", noting "he's a good kid and he did a really good job".

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Today In NHL History - Gretzky's Jersey Typo

On October 30th in 1997, New York Rangers forward Wayne Gretzky skated in a game against cross-river rival New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum with his name mispelled "Gretkzy" on the back of his jersey.

Far from an isolated incident in the world of sport with typos and misspellings abound, rarely does it involve the sports greatest player of all time skating for one of the league's highest profile teams. Even rapper Kanye West agrees this is the greatest jersey foul of all-time.


The Islanders beat the Rangers that night by a score of 5-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Today In NHL History - Richards Shatters Glass

On October 28th in 2010, Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards fired a blistering center ice slapshot over Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and through the glass with three minutes remaining in the final frame.

The Kings topped the Stars that night 5-2 before the then-smallest crowd in Dallas Stars history, announced as 11,306 but closer to 5,000, owing in part to fans staying home to watch their Major League Baseball city sibling Texas Rangers play in Game 2 of the World Series.

That's today in NHL history.