blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: March 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

Today In NHL History - Jason Spezza's Illegal Stick

On March 9th in 2009, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson called for a measurement of Jason Spezza's stick, down one goal with two minutes to play. Suspecting something was afoot, the Senator snapped his stick and headed for the bench. Referee Stephane Auger followed the forward and confiscated the contraband.

Making no secret of shaving his blades, as described in this interview one year earlier, Spezza was assessed a two minute penalty for the infraction.

Aware of the illegal blade all season, Wilson described the stick as dangerous and explained that he wanted to reward his players for their efforts in a hard fought edition of the Battle of Ontario. Ottawa held off Toronto on the ensuing powerplay to win by a score of 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - McSorley's Illegal Stick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Willie Mitchell's Long Stick.

Today In NHL History - Backstrom's Own Goal

On March 9th in 2008, Washington Capitals rookie center Nicklas Backstrom had the misfortune of scoring an extremely untimely own goal against goaltender Cristobal Huet, breaking a deadlocked game to give their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 lead with 28 seconds to play.

Adding insult to injury, the blunder was credited to Ovechkin's nemesis-in-chief, notorious Washington Capitals killer Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh added an empty net goal 15 seconds later to clinch the victory by a score of 4-2, continuing their dominance of the Southeast studs.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Today In NHL History - Simon Sticks Hollweg

On March 8th in 2007, Chris Simon of the New York Islanders viciously struck New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick midway through the third period in retaliation to a concussion-inducing check.

Hollweg escaped with only two stitches from the blow. An apologetic Simon was assessed a NHL record 25 game suspension for the egregious act, a marker he would surpass nine months later when he stomped his skate on Jarkko Ruutu's leg earning a 30 game suspension.

The Rangers scored on the ensuing powerplay to beat the Islanders 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bertuzzi Punches Moore

On March 8th in 2004, the lives of Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore became inextricably linked in a now famous gruesome act of retribution gone wrong.

The seeds of the incident were sewn three weeks earlier, when Moore swept the puck away from Markus Naslund and proceeded to deliver an open ice headshot to the then league leading scorer. The Canucks captain would miss the next three games and never regain his Art Ross form.
With the score 8-2 midway through the final frame of Colorado's next visit to Vancouver, sophomore coach Tony Granato made the rookie mistake of parading Moore in front of the blood thirsty Canucks. Bertuzzi shadowed Moore for the entire shift attempting to engage him, but Moore refused. Bertuzzi then dropped his stick, sucker punched Moore from behind, slipped on his own stick, and drove Moore's head into the ice.

Moore's NHL career ended that moment and Bertuzzi's would never be the same. Bertuzzi was suspended from hockey for 17 months though only missed 20 NHL games owing to the NHL lockout. Despite Bertuzzi's repeated apologies, Moore has never forgiven him.

The incident remained news 10 years after the incident owing to a $60 million lawsuit Moore filed against Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment in an Ontario Court. The suit was settled on September 4, 2014, four days before the trial was scheduled to begin.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Today In NHL History - Mario Lemieux Hat Trick

On March 2nd in 1993, Mario Lemieux coined a hat trick when he started his day in Pittsburgh receiving radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and finished it with a goal and assist in Phildelphia, earning a rare ovation for an opponent in the rival rink during his first game back after a two month absence owing to the deadly disease.

Despite losing 5-4 that night to the Flyers, Mario led his Penguins to a NHL record 17 straight wins en route to their first Presidents’ Trophy with a franchise record 119 points, amassing 51 points (27G, 24A) in 16 games and finishing with 160 points (69G, 91A) in 60 games, taking home the Hart, Art Ross, Pearson, Plus/Minus, and Masterton.

Unlike the Gordie Howe hat trick (fight, goal, assist), of which Howe has two and Brendan Shanahan has 17, nobody has ever duplicated the Mario Lemieux hat trick. And nobody likely ever will.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Selanne's Goal Celebration

On March 2nd of 1993, Winnipeg Jets forward Teemu Selanne shattered Mike Bossy's rookie record of 53 goals collecting the 54th score of his freshman campaign against goaltender Stephane Fiset of the Quebec Nordiques in just the 64th game of the season, giving the Jets a 4-3 lead.

Selanne's glove toss machine gun goal celebration remains a fan favorite and highlight fixture, despite Teemu feelinga little embarrassed that I did that, but I was so pumped, and it was so special for me."

Interestingly, the play was almost whistled before the milestone was met as Tie Domi was challenged to a fight by Tony Twist after he chipped the puck ahead to Teemu. Tie did not oblige and history was made.

The Finnish Flash completed his rookie campaign with 76 goals and 132 points, winning the Calder Trophy and setting NHL rookie records that remain to this day. Quebec came back to beat Winnipeg that night 7-4.

That's today in NHL history.