blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: August 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Today In NHL History - Randy Moller

On August 23rd in 1963, Randall Moller was born in Red Deer, Alberta. Raised by Lethbridge's Broncos, Randy's teenage scoring touch and fisticuffs earned him the 11th overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Relegated to an enforcement role from the outset, Moller collected 1692 penalty minutes and 45 goals in 14 NHL seasons.

Today Moller makes his living calling the action as a play-by-play announcer for the Florida Panthers on Sports Talk 790. His claim to fame is incorporating fan requested pop culture references into his goal calls. What he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in enthusiasm.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Today In NHL History - Buble and Shorthouse Sing

On August 20th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks superfan Michael Bublé and play-by-play personality John Shorthouse joined the ranks of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra tweaking Bob Hope's rendition of the 1938 Academy Award winning classic "Thanks for the Memory", this time in a touching tribute to the club's retiring colorman Tom Larscheid during a hometown sold-out stop on Bublé's Crazy Love tour.

Thanks for the memories
The dinners on the plane, all that weight I gained
Wondering when this hockey team would win another game
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Pavel Bure's blazing speed, Henrik's perfect feeds
Bingo Bango Bongo, when Luongo left his feet
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Your leaving is the pits, we'll all miss you to bits
My favorite call of all, was when you called bullshit
Thanks for the memories

The seeds of the performance were sewn when Bublé shared the broadcast booth with Shorthouse coloring a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kerrisdale kid accepted the Burnaby crooner's invitation to one day join him onstage. Eighteen months later Shorty made good on his postgame promise producing this dazzling duet.
Clearly more comfortable calling puck than singing standards, Shorthouse sweated through the serenade like a pro. The memorable performance was followed by a succinct video salutation to the 33 year veteran voice, climaxing with an appearance by the living legend himself.

In the end, it was Bublé who found the perfect words to memorialize the man: "you're a beauty Tom, you're a beauty." A fitting farewell to a beloved member of the Canucks family. How lovely it was, indeed.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

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.