blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: April 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Today In NHL History - Kirk McLean's Game 7 Save

On April 30th in 1994, Vancouver Canucks goalie Kirk McLean denied Calgary Flames forward Robert Reichel of an overtime open net opportunity in Game 7 of the 1994 playoffs' opening round, in what is now known in Canucks circles simply as 'The Save'.
The spectacular save set the stage for Pavel Bure's double overtime series winner, considered by many as the Greatest Moment in Canucks History, capping the Canucks improbable 3-1 series deficit comeback with three consecutive overtime wins against the Flames and igniting their Cinderella run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Highlights from this historic Canucks Game 7 can be viewed below.
That's today in NHL history.

* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.

Today In NHL History - Steve Smith's Own Goal

On April 30th in 1986, rookie defenseman Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers accidentally played the puck off of goalie Grant Fuhr and scored on his own goal, putting the Calgary Flames ahead 3-2 in the third period of Game 7 of the Battle of Alberta Smyth Division Finals.
Smith's 23rd birthday blooper held up as the winner and Calgary took the series 4-3. The Flames would eventually advance to the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Tonight Bill Daly presented the NHL Draft lottery results live on CBC, with the top overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, to be held on June 23-24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois, being awarded to the New Jersey Devils. The actual lottery was conducted 30 minutes earlier in Sportnet's Hockey Central Studio in Toronto. This video below describes the process.
Designed to guard against teams purposely losing regular season games to improve their draft position, the weighted lottery system implemented prior to the 1995 NHL Entry Draft provides weaker teams with a greater chance of a higher pick without any guarantees for poor performance.

Until 2013, only the league's five worst regular season teams were eligible for the top overall pick, allowing teams to advance up to four spots and fall only one spot in the lottery. That changed in 2013 with all non-playoff teams eligible for the top overall pick albeit with their statistical likelihood directly tied to their final regular season standing. Though, a team could still only fall one spot in lottery position.

In 2014, additional changes were implemented for the lottery to reflect the competitive balance of the league, with more balanced odds being introduced in 2015 and separate draws starting in 2016 for the top three positions (as opposed to just for the top overall pick), allowing the league's worst regular season performer to slip as low as fourth overall (as opposed to just second overall under the prior regime).

The added wrinkle to this year's offering is the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights. This expansion team is participating in its first draft and has been accorded the same starting probabilities as the 28th place finisher (i.e., Arizona Coyotes). If neither Las Vegas or Arizona win any of the three lotteries (i.e., 1st pick, 2nd pick, 3rd pick), then Vegas shall pick immediately before Arizona.

This year lottery defied the odds, delivering top picks to underdogs New Jersey (1st, 8.5%), Philadelphia (2nd, 2.4%) and Dallas (3rd, 6.4%), moving up four, eleven and five spots, respectively. Colorado, Vancouver and Vegas were the biggest losers of this lottery, each dropping a historic three spots to select 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively. The previous largest drop in NHL draft lottery history was two spots, displacing Edmonton from 2nd to 4th and Vancouver from 3rd to 5th in 2016

The chart below shows final draft position by team with accompanying odds of selecting first, second or third overall, along with their most likely seeding in the lottery.

Draft Position 1st Pick    2nd Pick    3rd Pick    Likely Pick
1. New Jersey  
   6th (33.0%)
2. Philadelphia
   13th (84.4%)
3. Dallas
   9th (38.0%)
4. Colorado
   4th (51.9%)
5. Vancouver
   4th (34.1%)
6. Vegas
   5th (39.3%)
7. Arizona
   6th (34.6%)
8. Buffalo
   8th (39.7%)
9. Detroit
   9th (51.8%)
10. Florida
  10th (32.8%)
11. Los Angeles       
   10th (56.4%)
12. Carolina
   11th (67.7%)
13. Winnipeg
   12th (75.6%)
14. Tampa Bay
   14th (91.2%)
15. New York Islanders
   15th (97.0%)

Per HockeyViz math wiz Micah Blake McCurdy, the lowest seven finishers (i.e., 24th to 30th overall) are more likely to fall one spot in the draft than to move up under the current draft lottery mechanism.

Remaining NHL Entry Draft positions are set after the playoffs with the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up picking 30th and 29th, respectively. Conference finalists (28th, 27th) as well as division winners and wildcard teams (26th through 15th) are then ordered among their respective subgroup based on regular season standings, positioning teams with better regular season records to pick later than their peers.

* See also 2016 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2015 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2014 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2013 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2012 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2011 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2010 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2009 NHL Draft Lottery Results.

Today In NHL History - Roger Neilson Surrenders

On April 29th in 1982, Vancouver Canucks head coach Roger Neilson surrendered to referee Bob Myers during Game 2 of the Campbell Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in protest of poor officiating.

Stymied by seemingly unjustified penalties, Tiger Williams suggested throwing all of the sticks on the ice. Coach Neilson replied, "No, I've done that before, let's surrender". And with that, a white towel was raised on the end of a stick for all to see and Towel Power was born.

Neilson was tossed and the Canucks lost the game 4-1. They went on to win the series against the Blackhawks by the same margin, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

Some 29 years later the Vancouver Canucks unveiled an 800 pound bronze sculpture by Norm Williams outside of the coincidentally named Rogers Arena, memorializing Neilson's historic stand that inspired a team and a tradition.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Battle of Alberta & NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

For the past four decades, the province of Alberta has hosted two NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers (emigrating from the WHL in 1979) and the Calgary Flames (relocating from Atlanta in 1980). Separated by a mere 175 miles, these two franchises have forged one of the most intense rivalries in the game, playing hundreds of regular season games and five playoff series against each other, in what's known throughout the league as the "Battle of Alberta". The Oilers have qualified for the postseason 21 times, skating in the Cup Final seven times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 2006) and winning the Stanley Cup five times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). The Flames have skated in the playoffs 22 times, cracking the Cup Final three times (1986, 1989, 2004) and hoisting once (1989).

To put the early years of these fierce provincial foes in perspective, both teams made the playoffs each year from their inauguration through 1991, with one of them skating in the Stanley Cup Final for eight consecutive years (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990) and winning it six times during that span, spilling oceans of blood en route.

There were dark times too. Edmonton missed the postseason 16 times (1993-1996, 2002, 2004, 2007-2016), including a NHL record 10 consecutive postseason absences (2007-2016). Calgary failed to qualify for the playoffs 14 times (1992, 1997-2003, 2010-2014, 2016). 

Both missed the same postseason seven times (2002, 2010-2014, 2016), including six of the past eight playoffs. On the other hand, both qualified for the same postseason 13 times (1981-1991, 2006, 2017), though it's only happened twice in the past 25 seasons (2006, 2017).

In terms of head-to-head playoff matchups, the Alberta teams have locked horns five times (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991). Edmonton has won all but one such series (1986), owing to a spectacular Steve Smith own goal, with the winner reaching the Stanley Cup Final four times (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988) and hoisting twice (1984, 1988) after such affairs.

Regarding other NHL teams facing both Alberta squads in the same postseason, only the Winnipeg Jets (1985, 1987), Los Angeles Kings (1989, 1990) and Anaheim Ducks (2006, 2017) have done it. To date, none have swept Alberta in the same postseason, though Anaheim is trying to become the first to do just that this postseason

Interestingly, when both Alberta sides have played the same opponent in a postseason, the victor has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final every time (1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 2006), hoisting the Cup all but once (2006).

With Edmonton and Calgary returning to the postseason this year, there's early signs the rivalry may reach its former heights in years to come.

For the sake of NHL fans everywhere, let's hope that happens.

Today In NHL History - Dale Hunter Hits Turgeon

On April 28th in 1993, Washington Capitals forward Dale Hunter delivered a late shoulder-separating hit on New York Islanders center Pierre Turgeon after the Lady Byng recipient converted Hunter's defensive-end turnover for the Isles 5th goal in Game 6 of the Patrick Division Semifinal.
Witnessing the foul firsthand at Nassau Coliseum, the newly appointed Commissioner Gary Bettman assessed a 21 game suspension costing Hunter $150,000, one-quarter of his $600,000 annual salary. New York beat Washington that night by a score of 5-3 to win the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today In NHL History - Carcillo Fights Talbot

On April 25th in 2009, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Maxime Talbot challenged Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Daniel Carcillo to a scrap down 3-0 in the second period of Game 6 of the Conference Quarterfinals.

Carcillo won the fight but Pittsburgh stole the momentum responding with five unanswered goals to win the game 5-3, clinch the series 4-2 and eventually hoist the Stanley Cup seven weeks later. Though some discredit the fight as a turning point, Talbot's silencing was golden.

On July 1, 2011, the Flyers parted ways with Carcillo and signed Talbot. Carcillo took a one year $750,000 deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Talbot earned a five year $8.75m deal with the Flyers.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Today In NHL History - Alan Eagleson

On April 24th in 1933, Robert Alan Eagleson was born in St. Catherines, Ontario. Once considered the most powerful man in hockey, Eagleson's reputation was destroyed and person imprisoned when his fraudulent ways towards his colleagues and clients were revealed.

Starting out as a player agent before pioneering the NHLPA and international tournaments among professionals (1972 Summit Series, 1976 Canada Cup), the NHL icon was enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame and appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1989 only to have both honors stripped nine years later upon cross border convictions.

The unraveling originated with articles penned by player agents Ritch Winter and Ron Salcer, and Eagle-Tribune sports editor Russ Conway. Allegations of embezzlement, colluding to repress player salaries, misrepresenting player negotiations, and skimming disability funds resulted in disbarment as a lawyer, U.S. courts taking his money ($700,000) and Canada's his freedom (18 month sentence of which he served six), as described in Conway's 'Game Misconduct'.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Today In NHL History - Ference Fingers Montreal

On April 21st in 2011, Boston Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference celebrated his first playoff goal in a decade, tying the game 2-2 in the opening period, with a one finger salute for the Montreal Canadiens fans at the Bell Center.

Afterwards, a straight-faced Ference assured anyone who would listen that the unpenalized gesture was inadvertent, noting that his glove "got caught up" as he was pumping his fist in the air.
The NHL didn't buy it either, electing to fine Ference $2,500, the maximum allowable amount under Rule 75.5(ii) for unsportsmanlike conduct, representing 1/900th of his $2.25m annual salary.

Fourteen months later Ference came clean admitting he intentionally flipped-off Habs fans and cowardly lied to cover his tracks:

"Accountability is lacking in our world. Just look at nuisance lawsuits, or the finger-pointing of politicians around the globe. I am guilty myself of trying to blame a middle-fingered celebration after a goal in Montreal on a glove malfunction. In round one of the playoffs between two of the fiercest rivals in our sport, I scored a tying goal in the enemys building, only to have my fist pump turn into a sign language that crosses all borders. Facing the media and a possible suspension after the fact proved to be too much for my self-accountability. Self-preservation is a powerful thing it is easier to place blame elsewhere and overlook your own responsibilities."

Boston went on to beat Montreal that night in overtime by a score of 5-4, knotting their first round best-of-seven series at 2-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Lidstrom Beats Cloutier

On April 21st in 2002, Norris winner Nicklas Lidstrom scored on Vancouver Canucks netminder Dan Cloutier from center ice in the final minute of the second period breaking a 1-1 tie in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals.

The goal marked a playoff turning point as the Detroit Red Wings won the game 3-1 and overcame a 2-0 series deficit to steal the series 4-2. 52 days later Detroit hoisted the Stanley Cup with Lidstrom taking the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Today In NHL History - Good Friday Brawl

On April 20th in 1984, divisional rivals Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques engaged in a now famous fight known simply by its calendar namesake emanating from the perfect storm of NHL playoffs, politics and provincial pride.

The Good Friday Brawl fisticuffs ensued at the end of the second period of Game 6 of the Adams Division Finals and lasted for ten minutes before teams retreated to their respective dressing rooms. Upon surveying the damage to teammate Jean Hamel from a Louis Sleigher sucker punch, the Canadiens returned to settle the score in the final frame.

Montreal beat Quebec that night to seal the series by a margin of 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Today In NHL History - Sedin's Disallowed Goal

On April 19th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin deflected a puck off his skate and past Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick in Game 3 of the opening round of the 2010 playoffs, pulling his team within a goal three minutes into the third period.

Ruled a good goal by on-ice referee Steve Kozari, NHL SVP Mike Murphy and the off-ice video review crew overturned the ruling after a lengthy six minute review, causing CBC's Hockey Night In Canada broadcaster Jim Hughson to remark "Wow, that is a most interesting call".

NHL Rule 78.5(ii) states a goal shall be disallowed "when the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion." A "distinct kicking motion" is defined by Rule 38.4(iv) as "one which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his skate into the net." Rule 49.2 clarifies, however, that "a puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal".

Absent evidence of a "distinct kicking motion", Murphy was invited to speak with Ron Maclean on HNIC and share the reasoning behind his decision to overturn the on-ice ruling and disallow Sedin's goal.

The interview appeared to further confuse an already perplexed panel.

Maclean: Tell us exactly how you came to your conclusion.

Murphy: ... It [the puck] had to be propelled some way. We felt it was the skate and not a distinct kicking motion but with a kicking motion that made it move back the other way. It wasn't a deflection. It wasn't a redirect. It was a kick. So that's the decision we came up with.

Maclean: If he's just making a stop ... and it [the puck] hits his skate and changes direction, is that a kicking motion?

Murphy: No ... We'll let that stand as a goal. We felt that wasn't the case here. He knew what he was doing.
When questioned the next day as to how Murphy could have known that Sedin "knew what he was doing", Commissioner Bettman deflected the question and controversy, electing instead to defend his staff:
"Mike Murphy was trying to explain at one o'clock in the morning as best he could exactly what was going on. And if he wasn't as articulate as perhaps those looking to parse his words would like, so be it. But as I said, I have complete confidence in Mike Murphy, Colie Campbell, and the entire hockey operations department. I think this whole tact of innuendo and insinuation is both insulting and pure fantasy. And I suggest everyone move on and focus on the fact we are having a dynamic playoffs."
Interestingly, a near identical goal was scored by the same player three months earlier. After video review, that goal was allowed to stand.

Clouding the waters of incompetence with conspiracy, allegations of partiality surfaced as an interview from earlier that season between and the club's former player (10yrs), captain (7yrs), and coach (4yrs) turned NHL SVP revealed Murphy's bias towards the team. You were with the Kings from early on in the team’s existence – how have you seen the team change in the time since then?

Murphy: Well I have seen some obvious changes with the colors of the uniforms and the logo and the different arena where they play. What has not changed is the great group of solid hockey fans in Southern California that support and love the Kings, even with the changes. I think it would be so neat to see the Kings succeed and win a Stanley Cup because it would do just a tremendous amount for the Southern California market and the Kings franchise. They have been hard working and very close in a number of years, so that would be nice to see.
The disallowed goal preserved the Kings 4-2 lead en route to a 5-3 win, taking a 2-1 series lead over the Canucks. The win, however, would be the last for Los Angeles as Vancouver ultimately cinched the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Today In NHL History - Maple Leafs 3-0 Comeback

On April 18th in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 3-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final becoming the first NHL team to ever recover from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series and win the round, or in this case the Stanley Cup.
In fact, only 3 of the 172 times a NHL team has trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series have they comeback to win. The other two times happened in the Quarterfinal round, first in 1975 when the New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins and then again in 2010 when the Philadelphia Flyers caught up to the Boston Bruins.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0.
* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.

Today In NHL History - Dan Boyle's Own Goal

On April 18th in 2010, defenseman Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks backhanded a shortside winner into his own goal with 51 seconds played in sudden death overtime of Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals to the surprise and chagrin of netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

The gaff, Boyle's first goal of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, gave the 8th seeded Colorado Avalanche a 1-0 win and 2-1 series lead against the top seeded Sharks. Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson finished the game with a 51 save shutout, adding another chapter to his storybook season.

The Sharks won the next three games to take the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Today In NHL History - Brodeur's Playoff Goal

On April 17th on 1997, netminder Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils scored an unassisted empty net goal against the Montreal Canadiens joining Ron Hextall as the second goalie to ever score in a NHL playoff game.

The Devils went on to beat the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal 5-2, eventually taking the series 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Today In NHL History - Andrew Peters Golf Swing

On April 16th in 2006, Buffalo Sabres slugger Andrew Peters challenged Toronto Maple Leafs bruiser Wade Belak to a fight with 5 minutes to play in the penultimate game of the regular season. Belak's decline was met with a golf swing gesture by Peters referencing the fatal blow dealt to Toronto's playoff hopes that night.

Peters was assessed a 10 minute misconduct and ejected from the game for the unsportsmanlike swing, described by Belak as "disrepectful". Peters later apologized to his teammates and Sabres owner Tom Golisano noting "It was just stupid, I got caught up in the moment."

Buffalo beat Toronto that night by a score of 6-0 and were eventually eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals by the Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes. Ironically, Peters never skated in a playoff game during that postseason or any other in his NHL career.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today In NHL History - Kopitar Highsticks Sedin

On April 15th in 2010, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings inadvertently high-sticked Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals lodging his stick into the Art Ross winner's helmet.

Despite direct evidence of a high-sticking infraction, the play went unpenalized presumably owing to the absence of an injury. When questioned as to the non-call, the referee Kelly Sutherland responded that the high-stick was "very gentle" and didn't warrant a whistle. Interesting.

The Canucks won the game 3-2 no thanks to the officiating.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck

On April 15th in 2010, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo lodged his goalie stick into the back of his pads after making a spectacular overtime save against the Kings' Jack Johnson in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals.

After a 15 second struggle, Luongo untangled the lumber in time to stop a shot from Brad Richardson as play returned to his end. Vancouver went on to beat Los Angeles 3-2 that night taking a 1-0 series lead.

That's today in NHL history.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Today In NHL History - Rob Ray Fights Fan

On April 14th in 1992, Rob Ray of the Buffalo Sabres pummeled a 21 year old fan who, apparently acting on a bet, elected to jump into the visitors bench at Le Colisée in the dying seconds of a game against the Quebec Nordiques.
Amazingly, the fan survived some 17 or 18 direct blows from the NHL's 6th all-time regular season penalty minutes leader (3,207) before police broke up the melee. Rayzor escaped criminal charges and league suspension that night though his team couldn't avoid a 7-3 loss.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts

At the outset of every season, each team aspires to win the Stanley Cup. Six months later, the playoff seeding is set and only 16 teams continue to chase that dream. The remaining 14 clubs must wait until next season to renew their quest for the Cup. For them, the playoff drought begins.

The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each of the current 14 teams has gone without making the Stanley Cup playoffs, showing the last year they qualified for the postseason.

Team                          Years         Last Playoff
Carolina Hurricanes
Buffalo Sabres    
Arizona Coyotes
New Jersey Devils
Colorado Avalanche
Vancouver Canucks
Winnipeg Jets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders       
Philadelphia Flyers
Tampa Bay Lightning       

This playoffs marks the return of five Canadian teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto) after all seven franchises missed last year for the first time in 46 years. Also, Edmonton makes its playoff debut after missing 10 consecutive postseasons, matching Florida's all-time record of 10 straight playoff misses ending in 2012, leaving Carolina with sole possession of the longest active playoff qualification drought.

This year's postseason saw seven teams who qualified for last year's offering falling short (Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay), making room for five Canadian teams as well as Boston and Columbus. For 10 of the past 12 seasons, year-to-year playoff turnover of at least five clubs has been typical, proving parity in the NHL's modern salary cap era.

Further, the turnover of seven squads matches the largest year-to-year change in NHL history which first occurred in 2015 when seven teams ended their playoff drought to compete in the postseason. Only five times in NHL history have the defending Stanley Cup champions failed to qualify for the postseason (Toronto 1968, Montreal 1970, New Jersey 1996, Carolina 2007, Los Angeles 2015), a list the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are happy to avoid.

In terms of team salary cap, 4 of the top 10 spending teams (Arizona 1st, Detroit 2nd, Buffalo 6th, Philadelphia 10th) and 6 of the bottom 10 spenders (New York Islanders 21st, Dallas 24th, Winnipeg 25th, Florida 27th, New Jersey 29th, Carolina 30th) missed the playoffs, proving that neither well-financed nor under-capitalized teams are immune from failure. That said, 10 of the top 16 teams in terms of salary cap qualified for the postseason, so being a top spending squad can't hurt.

For the 14 teams on this list, the playoff rains can't come soon enough.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Today In NHL History - Ron MacLean

On April 12th in 1960, celebrated sports broadcaster Ronald Joseph Corbett MacLean was born in Zweibrücken, West Germany. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things hockey and a quick wit, MacLean became the host of CBC's coveted Saturday night franchise Hockey Night In Canada. Raised in Red Deer, Alberta, MacLean spent eight years with CKRD before landing the HNIC Western anchor gig in 1986. Later that season he assumed the Toronto anchor role replacing Dave Hodge who was fired for flipping his pencil in protest of the network's decision to leave an overtime hockey game for the news. MacLean has been a fixture since.

In addition to his regular broadcasting duties MacLean hosts the Hotstove, co-anchors Coach's Corner with Don Cherry, and has participated in CBC's Olympic coverage since 1988, earning him eight Gemini awards, including Best Sports Broadcaster (1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001) and Best Sports Host/Interviewer (2004, 2006).

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Today In NHL History - Hextall's Playoff Goal

On April 11th in 1989, netminder Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers scored an unassisted empty net goal against the Washington Capitals becoming the first goaltender to score in a NHL playoff game.

It was the second time a goalie scored in a NHL game, the first being when Hextall fired the puck into the opposing net on December 8th in 1987. Though New York Islanders backstop Billy Smith was the first to be credited with a goal, Hextall was the first goalie to actually score one.

The Flyers beat the Capitals 8-5 in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Semifinal that night, eventually winning the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Trevor Linden

On April 11th in 1970, Trevor Linden was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Fresh off consecutive Memorial Cup wins, the Canucks selected him second overall in the 1988 NHL Draft. Linden would play 16 of his 19 NHL seasons with the club earning the nickname Captain Canuck for his on-ice efforts and community contributions.

In his first season, Linden scored 30 regular season goals and added seven playoff points in a first round series against the heavily favored Flames. Predicted by local media to be the first seven game series to be settled in three games, Linden et al took the eventual Cup winners to overtime in Game 7. The rookie performance landed Linden runner-up honors in the Calder Trophy race and cemented his reputation among the Canuck faithful. Two years later he would be crowned captain.

Linden ended up posting six 30+ goal seasons during a 482 consecutive game ironman streak in Vancouver. The highlight of his career came when he captained his banged up seventh seeded Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, leading them out of a 3-1 game deficit against the Presidents' Trophy winning New York Rangers to force an infamous Game 7 at MSG. Linden scored both Canuck goals in the 3-2 loss.
A 1998 run-in with notorious new coach Mike Keenan launched a three year eastern conference tour with stops in Long Island, Montreal, and Washington. That year Linden would also be elected President of the NHLPA, a position he held for eight years.

In 2001 Linden returned to Vancouver, ending his career in an April 5, 2008 home game against division rival Calgary Flames. Despite an embarrassing 7-1 loss, the Canucks' favorite son was applauded throughout the third period and named the game's first star. At the end of the game, Flames captain Jarome Iginla ordered his team out of the dressing and back on the ice to congratulate the Albertan in person.
Linden's number 16 jersey was retired by the Vancouver Canucks on December 17, 2009, only the second jersey to be retired by the franchise.

On April 9, 2014, Linden was named President of Hockey Operations for the Vancouver Canucks, one day after Mike Gillis was relieved of the role.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Winnipeg Jets White Out

On April 11th in 1987, the Winnipeg Jets introduced the "White Out" in response to the Calgary Flames "C of Red" employed by fans during the first two games of the first round playoff series at the Saddledome.

Winnipeg went on to beat Calgary in six games only to be swept by the Edmonton Oilers in the next round. The playoff attire tradition continued as the club encouraged everyone to "wear white tonight" in a parody of Wang Chung's tune "Everybody Have Fun Tonight".

Amazingly, Winnipeg never won another playoff series after their inaugural White Out against Calgary, a streak that lasted 25 years counting their present incarnation as the Phoenix Coyotes, leading some to dub the custom the "White Curse".

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Today In NHL History - Miracle On Manchester

On April 10th in 1982, the Los Angeles Kings completed the largest single game comeback in Stanley Cup playoff history in Game 3 of the Smythe Division Semifinal beating the heavily favored Edmonton Oilers 6-5.

Down 5-0, the Kings first goal came 2:16 into the third period from Jay Wells skating 4-on-4. Doug Smith added a powerplay goal less than three minutes later. The next three markers came in the final 5:22 with Charlie Simmer and Mark Hardy converting 4-on-4, and Steve Bozek tying it with five seconds remaining in regulation on the powerplay with the goalie pulled. Daryl Evans scored the winner 2:35 into overtime.

The comeback has been dubbed the Miracle on Manchester owing to the address of The Forum where the game was played. The Kings lost Game 4 in Los Angeles but won Game 5 in Edmonton to steal the series 3-2 only to fall to the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 in the next round.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Kane Fights Matt Cooke

On April 10th in 2010, Atlanta Thrashers rookie Evander Kane answered Pittsburgh Penguins pest Matt Cooke's challenge for fisticuffs with a one punch knockout of one of the NHL's most hated players.
Kane KO was applauded by Boston Bruins bruiser Milan Lucic who's linemate Marc Savard suffered a severe concussion from Cooke's dirty play. Atlanta went on to beat Pittsburgh that night by a score of 1-0.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bergeron Saves Own Goal

On April 10th in 2010, Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron prevented a third period own goal stopping Blake Wheeler's pass from entering their empty net during a delayed Jerome Samson penalty up 3-2 in a must-win game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Boston added an empty net goal to their three shorthanded markers to beat Carolina that afternoon by a score of 4-2 and clinch a playoff spot.

That's today in NHL history.