blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: January 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today In NHL History - First Black Player In NHL

On January 18th in 1958, Willie O'Ree dressed for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens becoming the first black person to play in the NHL. The Fredericton native skated in 45 NHL games, collecting four goals and ten assists, before leaving the league in 1961.


O'Ree went on to play for 13 years in the WHL, primarily with the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls, winning two league scoring titles (1964, 1968) in the process. Today, O'Ree serves as the NHL's Director of Youth Development and Ambassador for Diversity.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Flames Line Brawl Canucks

On January 18th in 2014, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley iced his fourth line brawlers to commence CBC's Hockey Day In Canada finale. Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella reluctantly responded in-kind igniting a line brawl yielding 152 penalty minutes and eight player ejections two seconds into the match. Sensing the imminent ambush, veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa swapped spots with rookie Kellan Lain to win his first ever NHL faceoff before being jumped by winger-turned-center Kevin Westgarth. Traveling 4,400 kilometers from Oakville, Ontario to witness their son's first NHL game, Kellan's parents instead saw him ejected after 2 seconds of ice-time resulting in a fight and 15 penalty minutes.

Fuming from the incident, Tortorella berated Hartley on the bench and then met him outside the Flames' dressing room between periods to finish personally delivering his thoughts on the affair; a shortsighted gesture likely to result in a suspension and fine. 
Questioned about his decision to match Hartley's fourth line bruisers to begin the game, Torts explained he had no choice.

"I see the starting lineup and I know the other guys across the bench and it's easy for people to say well put the Sedins out there and it's deflated.  I can't put our players at risk that way.  With the lineup he [Hartley] had I'm not going to put those types of players at risk.  And that's what ensues.  I'm not proud of it.  I've apologized to every one of the players involved in it.  I don't feel great about it at all.  Especially [Kellan] Lain.  That's my biggest mistake is putting Lane in that lineup.  And I'll kick myself forever not having someone else there but I'd do the same thing again if it came that way because I cannot put anyone else out there not knowing what's going to happen and knowing the other guy [Hartley] across from me."

While Torts was mum about the purpose and potential ramifications of his excursion to the visitor's dressing room between periods, Flames coach Hartley described the scene and refuted any suggestion his opening lineup presumed foul play remarking, "those guys are playing well for us, they got us a goal last game, we had absolutely zero intention there".

Instigator Kevin Westgarth, on the other hand, was a bit more candid in his assessment of the opening draw, noting the team's struggles of late and his role to "get the boys going anyway I can".

Short four skaters aside, the teams played 65 minutes with 204 penalty minutes, collecting 33 shots each and combining for 33 hits with top defensive pairs logging over 33 minutes (including a 38:05 minute effort from Dennis Wideman, the most minutes logged in a NHL regular season game in 11 years), and #33 leaving after 40 minutes owing to injury.

The Canucks took the shootout's 5th round to beat the Flames by a final score of 3-2, ending a wild night between the Pacific Division rivals.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Owen Nolan's Called Shot

On January 18th in 1997, San Jose Sharks forward Owen Nolan called his shot and scored on a breakaway against Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek with 2 minutes left in the 47th NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, completing the hat trick and sending hometown fans into a frenzy.
Hasek's Eastern Team defeated Nolan's Western Squad 11-7 with MVP honors going to Mark Recchi who hat tricked for the winning side.

That's today in NHL history

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bure Trade (VAN-FLA)

On January 17th in 1999, Vancouver Canucks superstar Pavel Bure was traded to the Florida Panthers along with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference, and a third round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (Robert Fried) in exchange for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and a first round pick in 2000 (Nathan Smith).

The seeds of the trade were sewn on July 5, 1998 when Bure demanded a trade for personal reasons, later revealed to include alienation by management coupled with several bitter contract negotiations, claiming he would never again play for the club. He didn't and Canucks GM Brian Burke eventually orchestrated a trade with Panthers GM Bryan Murray.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today In NHL History - Malkin Boards Mitchell

On January 16th in 2010, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoved defenseman Willie Mitchell head first into the boards with his team trailing by four goals with 7 minutes to play.

Mitchell sustained a concussion on the play forcing him to miss the remaining 105 days (46 games) of the Vancouver Canucks season and jeopardizing his off-season free agent value. Malkin, meanwhile, received a mere minor penalty and miraculously escaped NHL suspension.

Sixteen weeks later Willie spoke to the media for the first time since the incident, describing his recovery and calling out Colin Campbell for failing to control such on-ice incidents through supplemental discipline.

The Canucks beat the Penguins that night by a score of 6-2.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Malkin Fights Zetterberg.

Today In NHL History - Ott's Shootout No Goal

On January 16th in 2010, Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott was stopped on his first ever shootout attempt by Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Despite an emphatic no goal call by perfectly positioned referee Rob Martell, the ruling was reversed by the NHL on video review.

Appalled by the call, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock exclaimed "The video replay showed the puck didn't go in the net, I thought that's why we had video replay". Dallas beat Detroit that night by a score of 3-2 on the strength of the NHL's video review blunder in shootout's 6th round.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek

On January 15th in 1998, Gino Odjick hit Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek in response to a Jay McKee facewash on Vancouver Canucks superstar Pavel Bure during the third period of a lopsided game beyond the reach of a win.
Matthew Barnaby returned the favor moments later running Canucks goalie Sean Burke whilst Sabres enforcer Rob Ray paired off and exploited a mismatch with Vancouver captain Trevor Linden. Coach Mike Keenan punctuated the affair icing Donald Brashear who promptly mugged Sabres captain Mike Peca in response to Rob Ray's indiscretion, resulting in a line brawl featuring goalies Sean Burke and Steve Shields as the six-time Vezina winner watched from the bench.
Vancouver lost to Buffalo that night by a score of 6-2.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Today In NHL History - Patrick Kane's Own Goal

On January 12th in 2014, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane fired a pass past pinching defenseman Duncan Keith, which traveling the length of the ice and into his own empty net during a delayed penalty to Devan Dubnyk, giving the Edmonton Oilers a 2-2 tying goal midway through the second period. Patrick Kane's own goal was credited to Oilers forward Boyd Gordon.

Redemption came 29 seconds later when Kane setup Marian Hossa's go-ahead goal on the ensuing powerplay en route to a 5-3 win.That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Today In NHL History - Rory's All-Star Game Vote

On January 9th in 2007, the NHL revealed that Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick finished 3rd in fan voting behind Western Conference Norris winners Scott Niedermayer and Nicklas Lidstrom, eliminating him from contention for the All-Star Game.

Yearning for an underdog in the asinine exhibition affair, 22 year old Mike Schmid crafted a six-week Vote For Rory write-in campaign complete with spoof smear spots against ballot front-runners to support his cause.



Though on pace to cinch second place with a week remaining, Fitzpatrick finished with 550,117 votes (22,892 shy of a starting spot) ending significant media speculation and even some outrage surrounding the circus. The suspicious result raised eyebrows with Slate who reviewed the data and surmised in Rorygate that the NHL engaged in foul play dumping 100,000 votes in order to yield their desired defensemen.

In the end, the NHL frowned upon fans having the final say, electing to silence the everyday normal fan and bench the blue collar blueliner.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Today In NHL History - Lights Out In New Jersey

On January 8th in 2010, a circuit breaker malfunction caused a lighting failure during a Lightning date with the Devils resulting in a 102 minute delay before the NHL postponed play at the Prudential Center for another day.

The teams met again two days later once radiance had been restored at The Rock, picking up where they left off with the Bolts up 3-0 midway through the middle frame. Tampa Bay ultimately beat New Jersey 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Today In NHL History - FSN Hides Video Replay

On January 7th in 2010, FSN Pittsburgh producer Lowell MacDonald Jr. withheld a definitive replay from the NHL during a late second period Simon Gagne goal review. Absent the authoritative angle officials deemed the video evidence inconclusive and ruled no goal.

After play resumed, prohibiting a reversal of the incorrect call, the angle was aired making clear that the Philadelphia Flyers should be up 6-3 instead of 5-3.Upon viewing the conclusive video evidence FSN commentators joked "oh, we saved that one", which is precisely what happened.

FSN Pittsburgh accepted full responsibility for the incident, noting "there is nothing more important than the integrity of the game" and "FSN Pittsburgh's failure to provide video to the league officials in a timely fashion was wholly unacceptable."

MacDonald was slapped with an indefinite suspension by his employer, though was reinstated a mere nine months later in time for the 2010-2011 season. Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh that night by a score of 7-4.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Eager Punches Armstrong

On January 7th in 2010, notorious cheapshot Ben Eager of the Atlanta Thrashers sucker-punched Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong late in the second period of play with his team trailing by a score of 5-1.

After the game, Eager continued his assault on Armstrong accusing him of being "one of the biggest phonies in the league". Sporting a patch over his right eye, Armstrong offered a two word description of Eager - "meat-head" - joking "I can't believe he missed my nose".

Colby suffered a scratched cornea from the sucker-punch resulting in swelling and leaking from his right eye. Despite the injury, Armstrong continued to play for a month until his vision became blurred from the incident and he was sidelined for a week missing four games.

Eager was assessed a match penalty and subsequently suspended four games, forfeiting $20,752 in pay. The punishment was shocking to some as Milan Lucic escaped suspension two weeks earlier for bare-knuckle sucker-punching Thrasher Freddy Meyer, prompting Eager to opine "there's no real parity in these suspensions that are handed out".

Toronto scored four times on the ensuing man advantage, collecting five powerplay goals on Eager penalties that night, en route to a 9-3 win.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Today In NHL History - Downie Punches Blake

On January 5th in 2008, Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie sucker-punched the Maple Leafs' Jason Blake as the pair were being restrained by officials following early third period fisticuffs.
Already famous for a vicious preseason headshot on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, earning him a 20 game suspension and criticism from players league-wide (including Blake), the reckless rookie renewed his reputation as a cheapshot four games into his young NHL career.

Even hard-nosed hockey commentator and Coach's Corner co-host Don Cherry was disgusted by the display, dubbing Downie a backstabber.
Flyers VP Bobby Clarke instead applauded his player for the punch, claiming "the kid did what every hockey player should do. If a player like Blake who's been around as long as he has wants to criticize a player, then he has to go on the ice with him and suffer the consequences."
Downie was penalized four minutes on the play but escaped another suspension. Philadelphia beat Toronto that night by a score of 3-2.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Downie Slewfoots Crosby.
* See also Today In NHL History - Downie Hits McAmmond.

Today In NHL History - Stamkos' Penalty Shot Miss

On January 5th in 2011, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos lost an edge during a penalty shot attempt against Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins and failed to put the puck on net down 5-0 early in the second period.
The miscue comes only six days after the 2010 Rocket Richard co-winner was awarded his first NHL penalty shot which he converted with a nifty spin-o-rama move against Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price.
Pittsburgh went on to defeat Tampa Bay by a score of 8-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Stalberg's Penalty Shot Miss

On January 5th in 2011, Viktor Stalberg of the Chicago Blackhawks collected a hat trick of iron ringing the puck off both posts and the crossbar on a failed penalty shot attempt against Kari Lehtonen in the second period of a 2-2 match, extending his scoreless streak to 19 games.

In response to the miss the Swede remarked "it's hard to imagine that happening" whilst the Finn backstop conceded "I got real lucky there." Dallas would score twice in the third period to beat Chicago 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Today in NHL History - World Junior Brawl

On January 4th in 1987, a bench-clearing brawl erupted during the final game of the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Piestany, Czechoslovakia between arch rivals Canada and the USSR.

With Canada contending for a medal (bronze for a loss, silver for a win, gold for a win by five goals) and the USSR playing for pride, tempers flared at the match's midpoint with Canada leading 4-2.

The on-ice combatants were soon joined by both benches, save Canada's Jimmy Waite and Pierre Turgeon, when Soviet skater Evgeny Davydov jumped the boards to enter the fray. Unable to harness the havoc, referees left the ice and turned off the lights on the twenty minute melee to the chorus of disgusted fans in attendance shouting "we want hockey".


An emergency meeting of the IIHF resulted in the suspension of the game and expulsion of both teams. Officials then ordered team Canada to exit the arena, furnishing them with an armed escort out of the country.

Much controversy surrounded the affair with some accusing the USSR of instigating the fight to prevent Canada from winning a medal.

Of the forty roster members in the Punch Up In Piestany, twenty-six (Canada 19, USSR 7) went on to play in the NHL.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Stefan Misses Empty Net

On January 4th in 2007, Dallas Stars forward Patrick Stefan famously flubbed an empty net goal with ten seconds left in a 5-4 game against the Edmonton Oilers. Falling after his failing, Edmonton fed Ales Hemsky who scored on Marty Turco to tie the game with two seconds to play.
Afterwards, Stefan explained his unfortunate mishap: "It's not like I missed the net, I saw it was bad ice and I had so much time so I just tried to carry it all the way to the net. As soon as I put it on my back hand it jumped over my stick. Not much I can do about that."

Dallas secured a 6-5 win in the shootout completing their comeback, down 4-1 midway through the match, despite Stefan's debacle .

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Today In NHL History - Semin Fights Marc Staal

On January 3rd in 2009, Washington Capitals sniper Alexander Semin found himself in his first ever NHL fight with New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Mostly manhandled during the melee, Semin unleashed a late flurry of face-slaps as Staal lay on the ice, violating the Code but bringing great pleasure to both benches.
Each combatant received five minutes for fighting with Semin earning an ejection for failing to tie-down his jersey in violation of Rule 47.13. The Capitals beat the Rangers that night by a score of 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Today In NHL History - Chicago Stick Up

On January 1st in 2009, the Detroit Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL's outdoor Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. In a city famous for crime and corruption, I suppose it's not surprising that Chicago afternoon ended cloaked in controversy.

Fresh off a 6-4 victory in The Friendly Confines, Henrik Zetterberg handed his game stick to 14 year-old Wings fan Kalan Plew. Moments later, a man posing as a security guard confiscated the souvenir from Kalan explaining he could retrieve the prize from customer relations with his parents. As the imposter led Kalan from the stands, he bolted with the kid's stick.

Meanwhile in Wrigley's upper deck men’s washroom, 45 year-old dentist Robert Pappert was relieving himself when a man uniformed as a security guard walked in with a hockey stick. Upon learning that the stick belonged to his wife’s favorite player Henrik Zetterberg, Pappert offered the man $100 and took it home with him to North Carolina.

When Marc Plew met his son Kalan outside the stadium he knew something was wrong. Instead of celebrating the Red Wings' victory, he was crying. Upon learning of the atrocity, Plew reached out to the Chicago Tribune. The paper's Problem Solvers contacted the Red Wings who vowed to “make it right” by sending Kalan another Zetterberg stick and the story was published in their "What’s Your Problem?" column.

Back in Charlotte, Pappert learned that the Tribune published an article relating to his souvenir. Realizing the stick belonged to Kalan, he contacted the newspaper and returned the twig to its rightful owner. “If I had any idea that that was a bad dude, I would have beaten him with that stick before I left the bathroom ... I had a wonderful time with it for four or five days, but it has to go back to who really owns it.”

Kalan and Pappert were united for an interview on NPR's "All Things Considered". Touched by Pappert's honesty and generosity, the Blackhawks rewarded him with a Patrick Kane jersey and stick and Zetterberg flew Pappert and his wife to Detroit for a game.

No word as to the wherabouts of the crook who crushed a boy's New Year's Day dreams. But all's well that ends well in the Windy City. That's today in NHL history.