Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

History Of NHL Team Renaming

Typically reserved for NHL expansion and NHL relocation, seven cities (Toronto, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Chicago, Anaheim, Phoenix) have assigned eleven new names for their NHL team absent a move, since the league's inaugural season in 1917.

The chart below shows each instance of a renaming absent expansion or relocation, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1918 Toronto Blueshirts Toronto Arenas
1919 Toronto Arenas Toronto St. Patricks
1927 Toronto St. Patricks Toronto Maple Leafs
1930 Detroit Cougars Detroit Falcons
1932 Detroit Falcons Detroit Red Wings
1941 New York Americans Brooklyn Americans
1967 California Seals Oakland Seals
1970 Oakland Seals California Golden Seals
1986 Chicago Black Hawks Chicago Blackhawks
2006 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim       Anaheim Ducks
2014 Phoenix Coyotes Arizona Coyotes

The most recent team renaming came last night as part of a last ditch effort to avoid relocation and keep the Coyotes in Phoenix under new ownership after years of financial distress and league ownership.  

Of the eleven newly named teams, five have won the Stanley Cup under their new namesake (Toronto St. Patricks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks) including one in the inaugural year of their name change (Anaheim Ducks 2007), one relocated (California Golden Seals to Cleveland Barons), and two fell prey to NHL contraction (Brooklyn Americans, Cleveland Barons).

Here's hoping the desert dogs enjoy more success on and off the ice with their new name. They're due some good fortune in the Sonoran.

Today In NHL History - Lindros Trade (QUE-PHI)

On June 30th in 1992, Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut and GM Pierre Page traded 1991 draft day holdout Eric Lindros to Philadelphia.



Amidst confusion among two competing bids, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi selected Flyers GM Russ Farwell's proposal over New York Rangers GM Neil Smith's package of Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first round draft picks, and $12 million.

The trade ultimately saw Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, two first-round picks (Jocelyn Thibault, Nolan Baumgartner), and $15 million going to Quebec in exchange for the inaugural Next One. The deal remains one of the most significant and lopsided trades in NHL history.

The club would later exchange Hextall for Adam Deadmarsh and package Thibault for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, claiming two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche. The Flyers remain winless since 1975.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, June 27, 2014

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 97th season of play, it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 98 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2015
82
30
1967-1968
74
12



1968-1970
76
12



1970-1972
78
14



1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 30 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 30 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,230 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation and NHL expansion despite several hockey hungry markets, most notably Quebec City and Seattle.  

On the heels of last year's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.  In short, fans' preference for fewer regular season games appears unlikely to be realized anytime soon. 

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games

The 2014 NHL playoffs began on April 16 and ended on June 13, boasting 93 games in 59 days. During this time, the Los Angeles Kings skated in a record-matching 26 playoff games en route to earning the requisite 16 wins to be crowned 2014 Stanley Cup Champions

This historic playoff run begs the question, how long does a typical NHL postseason last? The chart below describes each postseason since 1987 (when the NHL expanded each playoff round to seven games) by start date, end date and length (i.e., total days and games).

Year       Start Date / End Date    Days       Games      
1987       
April 8 - May 31     
54      
87     
1988       
April 6 - May 26     
51      
83     
1989       
April 5 - May 25     
51      
82     
1990       
April 5 - May 24     
50      
85     
1991       
April 3 - May 25     
53      
92     
1992       
April 18 - June 1     
45      
86     
1993       
April 18 - June 9     
53      
85     
1994       
April 16 - June 14     
60      
91     
1995
May 6 - June 24     
50      
80     
1996
April 16 - June 10     
56      
86     
1997
April 16 - June 7     
53      
82     
1998
April 22 - June 16     
56      
82     
1999
April 21 - June 19     
60      
86     
2000
April 12 - June 10     
60      
83     
2001     
April 11 - June 9     
60      
86     
2002
April 17 - June 13     
58      
90     
2003
April 9 - June 9     
62      
89     
2004
April 7 - June 7     
62      
90     
2006
April 21 - June 19     
60      
84     
2007
April 11 - June 6     
57      
81     
2008
April 9 - June 4     
57      
85     
2009
April 15 - June 12     
59      
87     
2010
April 14 - June 9     
57      
89     
2011
April 13 - June 15     
64      
89     
2012
April 11 - June 11     
62      
86     
2013
April 30 - June 24     
56      
86     
2014
April 16 - June 13     
59      
93     
Average
     
56.5      
86.1     

Since the NHL expanded all four rounds of the playoffs to a seven game series, the maximum number of playoff games that could possibly be played if all series went to a game 7 is 105. Alternatively, the least possible number of playoff games if all 15 series resulted in a sweep is 60 games.

In terms of total games played in a postseason since 1987, the fewest is 80 games (1995).  Only three times has a playoff lasted more than 90 games (1991, 1994, 2014), the longest postseason being 93 games in 2014. The average playoff length during this span is 86 games.

Only once in the past 27 postseasons has a playoff lasted fewer than 50 days (45 days in 1992) and just four times has it exceeded 60 days (2003, 2004, 2011, 2012), the longest lasting 64 days (2011). The average playoff length during this span sits at 56.5 days.

With each team playing 82 regular season games for a total of 1,230 games, this year's winner skated in 108 games (82 + 26) during 256 days dating back to the opener on October 1, 2013, representing over 70% of the days in a calendar year and leaving only 116 days off between the Stanley Cup winning game and opening night of the next regular season.

Players on the 14 teams that did not skate in this year's postseason will enjoy 177 days off between regular season games, 61 more days off than their Stanley Cup winning counterpart. For those suffering such a playoff drought, here's hoping that rest translates into success.

* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The IIHF Triple Gold Club

Of the over 15,000 World Championship participants seeking gold since 1930, 9,000 that have skated for the Stanley Cup since 1893, and 4,000 that have competed for Olympic Gold since 1920, only 25 players and one coach have won all three titles. These accomplished 26 are recognized with membership in hockey's most exclusive association, the IIHF's Triple Gold Club.

The club includes individuals from Sweden (9), Canada (9), Russia (6), and the Czech Republic (2), of which the majority are forwards (19) with remainder rounded out by defensemen (6) and a coach. No goalies have earned the honor. All members are listed below by date of admission.

PLAYERS
Tomas Jonsson (SWE): 2.27.94
Mats Näslund (SWE): 2.27.94
Håkan Loob (SWE): 2.27.94
Valeri Kamensky (RUS): 6.10.96
Alexei Gusarov (RUS): 6.10.96
Peter Forsberg (SWE): 6.10.96
Viacheslav Fetisov (RUS): 6.7.97
Igor Larionov (RUS): 6.7.97
Alexander Mogilny (RUS): 6.10.00
Vladimir Malakhov (RUS): 6.10.00
Rob Blake (CAN): 2.24.02
Joe Sakic (CAN): 2.24.02
Brendan Shanahan (CAN): 2.24.02
Scott Niedermayer (CAN): 5.9.04
Jaromír Jágr (CZE): 5.15.05
Jiří Šlégr (CZE): 5.15.05
Nicklas Lidström (SWE): 2.26.06
Fredrik Modin (SWE): 2.26.06
Chris Pronger (CAN): 6.6.07
Niklas Kronwall (SWE): 6.4.08
Henrik Zetterberg (SWE): 6.4.08
Mikael Samuelsson (SWE): 6.4.08
Eric Staal (CAN): 2.28.10
Jonathan Toews (CAN): 6.9.10
Patrice Bergeron (CAN): 6.15.11

COACHES
Mike Babcock (CAN): 2.28.10

During a Triple Gold Club induction ceremony held at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Zetterberg described the challenges of the different championships and the camaraderie of his co-members.

Of the 26 Triple Gold Club cardholders, only Viacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg have completed a Triple Gold Club Double winning each of the requisite three championships twice.

The next logical step in IIHF recognition is the creation of a Quadruple Gold Club adding World Junior Championship gold to the mix. To date, only 10 players (5 Russian, 5 Canadian) have achieved such status (Kamensky, Gusarov, Fetisov, Larianov, Mogilny, Sakic, Neidermayer, Pronger, Toews, Bergeron) with Fetisov and Larionov being the sole pair to turn a Quadruple Gold Club Double, taking each title twice.

No new members were welcomed into the Triple Gold Club this year based on the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks or the 2013 World Hockey Championship gold medal winning team Sweden. Aspiring athletes will have to wait another year before the window opens again on this elite offering.


* See also Olympic Gold And Stanley Cup In Same Year.