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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today In NHL History - USA Vandalizes Nagano

On February 19th in 1998, the US men's hockey team disgraced their country, the NHL, and themselves by vandalising the Olympic village in Nagano after losing 4-1 to the Czechs and being eliminated from the Games.

Their childish frat boy antics resulted in extensive damage to the residences including broken chairs and emptied fire extinguishers that were then tossed from their 5th floor perch. Making matters worse, the cowardly culprits left Japan without an apology reinforcing the 'Ugly American' stereotype abroad in the first Olympics with NHL players.

Chris Chelios, captain of the 6th placed team, later issued an apology and sent a $3000 check to cover the damages. No names were uncovered in Bettman's investigation though with a roster featuring Roenick, Tkachuk, and Hull it's not hard to imagine who might be responsible.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Today In NHL History - Samuelsson's Olympic Exit

On February 17th in 1998, Ulf Samuelsson was dismissed from Sweden's hockey team and sent home from the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano when officials deemed he was no longer legally a citizen of Sweden on account of his receipt of a U.S. passport.

What started as an off-hand post-practice comment from Sports Illustrated hockey writer Michael Farber to Swedish journalist Janne Bengtsson ("Why would we give a dirty player like that U.S. citizenship?") sparked an investigation into the legalities of dual citizenship, or lack thereof, revealing that under Swedish law the acquisition of a foreign passport annulled local citizenship.

The next day Bengtsson confronted Sweden Ice Hockey Association President and IIHF council member Rickard Fagerlund with his findings during the first intermission of Sweden's match with Belarus. During the second period team manager Bo Tovland confirmed Samuelsson's possession of a U.S. passport and thus his ineligibility to play for Sweden.

Despite being allowed to keep the points collected with an ineligible player, Sweden lost 2-1 to Finland in the quarterfinals finishing fifth in the tournament. Bengtsson returned home to death threats and a devastated Samuelsson never suited up for his homeland again.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Willie Mitchell's Long Stick

On February 17th in 2009, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell skated through a pre-game warmup against the Calgary Flames with an 80 inch stick in response to coach Mike Keenan's accusation of illegal lumber.
Mitchell, who plays with a league maximum 63 inch stick, invited Iron Mike to borrow his tape measure and take a shot at Rule 10.5. Keenan declined the offer, refusing to test the twig. Vancouver beat Calgary that night 4-3 with big Willie picking up an assist on the evening.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Jason Spezza's Illegal Stick.
* See also Today In NHL History - McSorley's Illegal Stick.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Today In NHL History - Richard Zednik's Throat Slit

On February 10, 2008, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik had his throat inadvertently slit by the skate blade of falling teammate Olli Jokinen midway through the third period of a match against the Buffalo Sabres.

Despite spilling five pints of blood, doctors performed emergency surgery and managed to save Zednik's life. He was released from the hospital six days later and met the press four days after that to share his story.

Zednik missed the remainder of the season, returning the following year to earn a Masterton nomination. The incident marked the second such skate blade throat slashing Buffalonians had witnessed, the first being Sabres netminder Clint Malarchuk's accident 19 years earlier.

After a 15 minute delay to remove the blood and upon learning that Zednik was in stable condition, NHL VP Colin Campbell elected to complete the game. Buffalo beat Florida that night by a score of 5-3.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Malarchuk's Throat Slit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Today In NHL History - Sittler's Ten Point Game

On February 7th in 1976, Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs collected 10 points (6G, 4A) on 10 shots in a single NHL game against goalie David Reece, including hat tricks in the both second and third periods, en route to an 11-4 win over Adams division rival Boston Bruins.

The performance broke the previous single game point record of eight originally set by Maurice Richard in 1944. Sittler's record survived the Gretzky and Lemieux era and stands to this day. "Wrong Place at the Wrong Time" Reece never played another game in the NHL.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Buble Colors Canucks

On February 7th in 2009, Burnaby-born crooner and Vancouver Canucks fan Michael Buble took part in his most famous duet to date taking a turn in Tom Larscheid's shoes to color John Shorthouse's call.

Buble delivered a healthy dose of hometown bias to the play-by-play broadcast including a cover of Paul Leka's anthem midway through the match en route to the Canucks 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Humbled by the experience, the part owner of the Vancouver Giants praised Larschied acknowledging the difficulty of the job, and invited Shorthouse onstage to sing "Feeling Good" when he next plays in town.

Eighteen months later the pair reunited in song for a tweaked rendition of "Thanks for the Memory" to honor the recently retired Tom Larscheid in front of a sold-out hometown audience at Rogers Arena.

That's today in NHL history.