blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Today In NHL History - Thornton Trade (BOS-SJS)

On November 30th in 2005, Boston Bruins GM Mike O'Connell traded the jewel of the 1997 Draft to Doug Wilson's San Jose Sharks for first rounders Wayne Primeau (17th in 1994), Marco Sturm (21st in 1996), and Brad Stuart (3rd in 1998), stunning pundits from coast to coast.

Blindsided by the deal, Joe Thornton went on to win the Art Ross and Hart trophies in his west coast debut, cinching the Rocket Richard for linemate Jonathan Cheechoo en route.

The Bruins fired O'Connell four months later launching a successful rebuilding campaign that yielded the 2011 Stanley Cup, though none of the players from this trade were on that winning roster.  The Sharks skated in their first Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and have twice qualified for the Western Conference Final (2010, 2011) since the trade.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Ballard Slashes Vokoun

On November 30th in 2009, Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard bloodied teammate Tomas Vokoun with a vicious slash to the head after Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk scored halfway through the first period.

Vokoun exited on a stretcher after a 10 minute delay and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The Czech netminder escaped serious injury, needing only 10 stitches to repair his ear. An apologetic Ballard was neither penalized nor suspended for the act. Atlanta beat Florida that night by a score of 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Today In NHL History - Billy Smith's Goal

On November 28, 1979, New York Islanders netminder Billy Smith became the first goaltender to be credited with a goal in a NHL game.

Blindly playing the puck to the blueline, Colorado Rockies defenceman Rob Ramage watched his pass slide the length of the ice into his now empty thanks to an astute move by his goalie on a delayed penalty. Smith, being the last offensive player to touch, was credited with the marker.

It would be another eight years before a goalie scored a goal in the NHL by shooting the puck into an empty net. Ron Hextall holds that honor.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today In NHL History - NHL Is Born

On November 26th in 1917, the NHL was born out of discussions commencing four days prior amongst disgruntled NHA owners at Montreal's Windsor Hotel.

Struggling to survive amidst WWI enlistment and intense ownership disputes, four of the five NHA franchises (Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs) elected to leave behind troublesome Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone and the NHA. Their new league was named the NHL.

Surviving years of expansion, contraction, franchise relocation and renaming in its infancy, the NHL eventually settled into a six team structure in 1942 before ultimately filling out into its current 30 team, four division and two conference structure in 2013.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Malik's Shootout Goal

On November 26th in 2005, New York Rangers defenceman Marek Malik scored on Olaf Kölzig of the Washington Capitals ending the then-longest overtime shootout in NHL history.

The memorable marker, Malik's first in 21 months, came in the 15th round of the encore, giving New York a 3-2 win over Washington.

In 2014, the Capitals found themselves in the now-longest shootout in NHL history, losing to the Florida Panthers in the 20th round.  Sadly, Nick Bujstad did not mimic Malik's move to end the 18 minute affair.
That's today in NHL history.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Today In NHL History - First Female Commentator

On November 25th in 2009, Sherry Ross became the first female play-by-play announcer to call an entire NHL game in English. The milestone occurred at the Prudential Center in a match featuring the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils, which the home team won 3-1. The historical event may be heard here.

With Devils radio regular Matt Loughlin absent due to the death of his father-in-law, Ross shifted from her regular role as the two-season color commentator for the team to assume play-by-play responsibilities for the evening with former Devils forward Rob Skrlac coloring her call.

Ross once performed play-by-play duties for 20 minutes 16 years earlier when Devil's announcer Gary Thorne arrived late owing to a delayed flight, but no woman had ever before called an entire game in English. Women have, however, broadcasted games in French for RDS.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Today In NHL History - Ryan O'Byrne's Own Goal

On November 24th in 2008, Montreal Canadiens blueliner Ryan O'Byrne played the puck into his own net during a delayed penalty, tying up the game for the New York Islanders with five minutes remaining in the third period.

O'Byrne's own goal was credited to Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who subsequently sealed the 4-3 win with his third round shootout score as the Habs faithful taunted a dejected O'Byrne at the Bell Center.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Today In NHL History - Jiri Fischer's Heart Attack

On November 21st in 2005, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the players bench after suffering a heart attack 12 minutes into a match against the Nashville Predators causing play to be whistled as medical staff sprang into action to save the Czech's life. Unconscious for six minutes, team doctors eventually resuscitated Fischer employing a combination of CPR and the use of an automatic defibrillator before transporting the 1998 first round draft pick to a Detroit area hospital. He was released two days later.

A week after the collapse, Fischer endured an abnormal cardiac rhythm while resting at home, forcing the 2002 Stanley Cup champ to swap his roster spot for a position as Detroit's Director of Player Development.

The incident marks the first time the NHL postponed a game due to injury. A full makeup game was played on January 23, 2006, spotting Nashville their 1-0 lead from the original outing. Nashville maintained that one goal margin to beat Detroit by a score of 3-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Corey Perry's Own Goal

On November 21st in 2010, Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry scored an own goal when his offensive zone centering pass traveled the length of the ice into Jonas Hiller's empty net with 16 seconds to play.

Perry's own goal, credited to Tom Gilbert of the Edmonton Oilers, was met with laughs from the last place visitors and some taunting from rookie Taylor Hall. Perry made up for the miscue by clinching the goal scoring title that year with 50 markers, more than twice Hall's 22, and hoisting the Hart Trophy. Edmonton won the game by a score of 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Today In NHL History - Brad May's Disallowed Goal

On November 18th in 2009, Detroit Red Wings bruiser Brad May scored what would have been the lone goal of his final NHL season and last of his career. Unfortunately, it was wrongfully disallowed by referees Dennis LaRue and Stephane Augier.

Relying on Rule 31.2, LaRue exacerbated his oversight claiming he intended to blow the whistle prior to the puck entering the net, thus removing the play from the purview of Mike Murphy's video replay review. The absurdity of an official contemplating killing play during a shot on net highlights the ongoing failure of NHL officiating to effectively utilize its on and off ice resources to make the correct call.

May's marker would have tied the game with 14 minutes to play. Instead, the Dallas Stars kept their 2-1 lead and added another to win 3-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Clark Shoots Through Net

On November 18th in 2010, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Brett Clark fired a slapshot past Philadelphia Flyers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky and through the back of net, narrowing the Flyers lead to 5-4 in a wild first period of play.

Better known for blocking shots than scoring goals, the blast marked Brett's first time scoring in consecutive regular season starts. Tampa Bay came back to beat Philadelphia that night by a score of 8-7.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Today In NHL History - Jaroslav Halak's Own Goal

On November 17th in 2010, St. Louis Blues backstop Jaroslav Halak botched a routine paddle play spotting his Central Division rival Detroit Red Wings an early 1-0 lead on the own goal eight minutes into the opening frame.

The Slovak sensation's Steve Smith was credited to Detroit's Drew Miller, his first score of the season. The Winged Wheel added four unanswered markers in the final eight minutes of the match to beat the Blues 7-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Today In NHL History - Patrick Roy Dekes Gretzky

On November 16th in 1997, trailing by three goals with 3:30 remaining in the third period of a matinee at MSGColorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy elected to skate the puck up the ice stickhandling past Wayne Gretzky before crossing center ice where #33 was whistled by referee Paul Devorski.The unorthodox adventure greatly amused MSG color commentator and former netminder John Davidson, however, Rule 27.7 prohibits such sojourns and Roy was assessed a minor penalty for participating "in the play in any manner (intentionally plays the puck or checks an opponent) when he is beyond the center red line" .

The New York Rangers beat the Avalanche that afternoon 4-1.  Both Saint Patrick and the Great One were held pointless in the affair.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - First European Referee

On November 16th in 2010, Marcus Vinnerborg became the first European born referee to officiate a NHL game. The milestone was made in the Lone Star State during a midweek Pacific Division matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars. Find full video highlights here.

Director of Officiating Terry Gregson elected to add the overseas outsider to the NHL's zeal of zebra six months earlier owing to his puck-umpiring prowess in Sweden's Elitserien and other top-tier tournaments.

In his inaugural NHL outing, the 37 year old Swede whistled 13 minor and 4 major penalties skating alongside veteran Paul Devorski. He even employed video replay, awarding Brad Richards a third period goal to the rousing approval of the American Airlines Center congregation.

Dallas beat the Anaheim Ducks that night by a score of 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Today In NHL History - Hextall Fights Felix Potvin

On November 10th in 1996, Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers skated the length of the ice to engage netminder Felix Potvin when a melee broke out at the end of a match against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hextall was met with a willing and able opponent who quickly bloodied the Flyer backstop with a serious of blows to the left eye. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia feed (below) hailed Hextall's win while Toronto commentators (further below) praised Potvin's performance.


The highlights clearly show the damage inflicted by Potvin on the NHL's single-season penalty minute record holder for goalies, a fact Toronto enforcer Tie Domi was happy to share with Hextall from the bench.

Philadelphia beat Toronto that night by a score of 3-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Lindbergh's Car Crash

On November 10th in 1985, Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh crashed his Porsche into a wall at 5:37am returning from an evening of team celebration with a blood alcohol level of .24%. The 26 year-old Vezina winner never regained consciousness and was removed from life support the next day upon his father's arrival from Sweden. Despite his death, the popular Swede topped fan voting for the 1986 NHL All-Star Game marking the first time a deceased player was selected for a North American team sport All-Star roster. Though Philadelphia never officially retired Lindbergh's 31, no Flyer has worn the number since.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Kovalchuk's Shootout Miss

On November 10th in 2010, New Jersey Devils star forward Ilya Kovalchuk fabulously flubbed a fourth round shootout attempt against Jhonas Enroth giving the Buffalo Sabres a 5-4 victory in Lindy Ruff's 1,000th game behind the Buffalo bench. The $100 million dollar man's miscue sealed his squad's fate as the league's worst through the first fifth of the NHL's 93rd offering, with only 4 wins and 10 points in 16 games. Since joining the Devils, the premier pick from the 2001 NHL Draft has been a healthy scratch and managed a modest 3 goals, 5 assists, and minus 7 rating in 15 games.

Two nights later, however, Koval-choke redeemed himself, drawing a Dustin Penner tripping penalty in overtime and scoring the winner on the ensuing powerplay, leading the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers and their first home win in eight attempts this season.

From zero to hero in 48 hours. What a difference a game makes.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Linden Trade (WAS-VAN)

On November 10th in 2001, the Vancouver Canucks acquired former captain Trevor Linden and a second round draft pick (Denis Grot) in exchange for a first round pick in 2002 (Boyd Gordon) and a third rounder in 2003.

Linden would skate for six more seasons with the team that took him second overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft surpassing several franchise milestones before announcing his retirement on June 11, 2008, exactly two decades from the day Canucks GM Pat Quinn first called his name.

On April 9, 2014, exactly six years one day after his final NHL game, Linden was named President of Hockey Operations for the Vancouver Canucks, the day after Mike Gillis was relieved of the role.


That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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.