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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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 24 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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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.
Pronger currently works for the Florida Panthers in hockey operations.

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.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (NYI-FLA)

On June 24th in 2000, New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. The 2000 NHL Entry Draft day play saw the Isles select goalie Rick DiPietro 1st overall ahead of future all-stars Dany Heatley (2nd), Marian Gaborik (3rd) and Henrik Lundqvist (205th), to name a few.

In response to the move Milbury surmised, "In the end, we thought the quality that DiPietro will bring is just a notch above Luongo. If we're wrong, we may have made an unbelievable mistake. It'll be bonehead city. It's my job. If we're not a better team immediately, off with my head. I've been here five years, and I'm tired of losing."

Safe to say the Isles would have been better off with future Vezina/Hart/Pearson finalist Luongo, Calder winner and two-time 50 goal scorer Heatley, and Finnish national teamer Jokinen than the trio of DiPietro, Parrish, and Kvasha. Alas, the Milbury legacy lives on and on.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Playoff Poop.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (FLA-VAN).
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2011 NHL Awards.
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2009 NHL Awards.