blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: 2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021

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.

Friday, April 16, 2021

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.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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.

Monday, April 12, 2021

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.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

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.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

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.

Today In NHL History - Bruins Shorthanded Record

On April 10th in 2010, the Boston Bruins set a NHL record scoring three shorthanded goals in 64 seconds against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward during a Matt Hunwick minor penalty for hooking Jerome Samson.

The three second period penalty kill tallies from Paille, Wheeler and Begin doubled Boston's shorthanded output for the season and set up a 4-2 win over Carolina, clinching a playoff berth for the Bruins in the process.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Today In NHL History - Kovalchuk Fights McCabe

On April 9th in 2009, Thrashers superstar Ilya Kovalchuk challenged, fought and finished Panthers bruiser Bryan McCabe. 8 years his junior and 10 pounds his senior, the prize of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft KO'valuchuk'd the once-feared blueliner at the midpoint of their match.

Kudos to the captain for handling himself in front of the hometown few. Florida went on to beat Atlanta that night by a score of 3-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Today In NHL History - Vermette's Own Goal

On April 8th in 2013, Phoenix Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette fired a pass from the Vancouver Canucks goal line, past its intended recipient Keith Yandle, the entire length of the ice into Phoenix's empty net with one minute remaining in the third period trailing 1-0. The own goal, credited to Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis, came during a two man-advantage thanks to a penalty drawn by Vermette 22 seconds earlier and goalie Mike Smith sitting for a sixth attacker.

Vancouver beat Phoenix by a score of 2-0, keeping the Coyotes three points from the final playoff spot in the West with nine games to play.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Today In NHL History - Keith Ballard's Own Goal

On April 6th in 2010, Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard swatted an airborn puck past goaltender Tomas Vokoun and into his own net giving the visiting Ottawa Senators a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.Ballard's own goal was credited to the Senators forward Chris Neil. Ottawa beat Florida that night by a score of 5-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Today In NHL History - Turco Bets Canadiens Fan

On April 5th in 2011, Chicago Blackhawks benched backup goaltender Marty Turco allegedly wagered with a Montreal Canadiens season ticket holder named Robert during a match at the Bell Center after a second period goal by forward Michael Cammalleri put Montreal ahead 1-0.

According to Robert's retelling on the sports radio station Team 990, the bet began with a friendly $5 wager that Chicago wouldn't score. When Patrick Kane tied the game three minutes later, Robert slid a $5 bill between the glass to Turco with the note "Habs Rule" written on its face.

Double or nothing escalated into triple or nothing and eventually 5 to 1 odds that the Canadiens would win in overtime, which they did when defenseman P.K. Subban scored a powerplay goal 79 seconds into the extra frame giving Montreal a 2-1 victory over Chicago, and prompting Turco to pass a wad of $5 bills to the fan, including the original $5 bill which had been revised from "Habs Rule" to "Turco Rules!".

Despite Exhibit 14.2 of NHL CBA explicitly stating "Gambling on any NHL Game is prohibited", Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed there would be "no investigation and no action", to which Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville added, "it's something that happened, we're handling it internally". For the record, Turco owned up to passing the $5 bill back and forth with the fan, but did not admit to accepting any wagers.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Iginla Salutes Linden

On April 5th in 2008, the Calgary Flames displayed the sportsmanship that makes NHL hockey special, putting aside their bitter divisional rivalry to salute Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden in his final NHL game.

With fans applauding the Alberta-born center prior to the final period of his career, Calgary players retreated from the faceoff circle allowing players and fans alike to acknowledge the club's games played leader.

At the end of the match, Flames captain Jarome Iginla (who scored his 50th goal that night) recalled his entire roster from the visitor's dressing room and press box to the ice insisting all shake hands and congratulate Linden, a gesture that will forever be remembered in Vancouver.

Afterwards, Iginla shared his thoughts on Linden and their exchange.

Despite Calgary badly beating Vancouver that night by a score of 7-1, Captain Canuck was named the game's first star.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Today In NHL History - Sean Avery Hits Thomas

On April 4th in 2009, New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery slapped Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in the back of the head with his stick during a television timeout in an attempt to unhinge the 2009 Jennings, Crozier and Vezina winner with 5 minutes to play.Both Avery and Thomas received minor roughing penalties on the play. Boston beat the Rangers that afternoon by a score of 1-0 with Thomas collecting the shutout and the game's first star.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Today In NHL History - 1992 NHLPA Strike Begins

On April 1st in 1992, NHLPA freshman boss Bob Goodenow announced the first player strike in NHL history. The labor strife was resolved after only 10 days largely owing to the assistance of US Federal Mediator John Martin.

The settlement provided a one year labor truce between owners and players in the form of a two year deal retroactive to the beginning of the season, resulting in several changes to the game, including the:

  • addition of two neutral site games per team each season;
  • increase in the number of regular season games (80 to 84);
  • increase in player playoff bonuses ($3.2m to $7.5m);
  • increase in player control over licensing of likeness; and
  • tweaking of the free agency system.
Though no regular season or playoff games were lost due to the stoppage, the strike represented a major moment in owner/player relations and set the stage for the 1994 NHL Lockout. In response to the strike and in anticipation of future disputes, the owners removed NHL President John Ziegler replacing him with Gil Stein and ultimately Gary Bettman.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today In NHL History - Pavel Bure

On March 31st in 1971, Pavel Vladimirovich Bure was born in Moscow, Russia. Sneakily selected 113th in the 1989 NHL Draft, a year before age eligibility owing to international games played, the Red Army right winger electrified NHL audiences for 12 seasons (VAN 7, FLA 3.5, NYR 1.5) with his speed and scoring prowess.

After collecting the Calder (1991), the Russian Rocket posted five 50 goal seasons (1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001) and two 60 goal stints (1993, 1994), thrice leading the league in goals (1994, 2000, 2001). He currently sits 5th overall in goals per game ahead of Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull.
Pavel was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 alongside Joe Sakic, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin.  On November 2, 2013, 22 years after his 1st NHL game, the Vancouver Canucks retired Bure's #10 joining Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund in the Rogers Arena rafters, in a controversial gesture to their most exciting player. 
Off the ice, Pavel counts enforcer Gino Odjick and mobster Anzor Kikalishvili among his closest friends, Bob Saget's TV daughter DJ as his sister-in-law, and Anna Kournikova as his one-time fiance.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Jakub Kindl's Own Goal

On March 31st in 2013, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl directed the puck from his skate to stick before errantly backhanding it over Jimmy Howard's left pad, thanks to a timely slash by Chicago Blackhawks forward Jimmy Hayes, giving Chicago it's third goal in 99 seconds and a 3-0 lead less than five minutes to play. Kindl's own goal, credited to Dave Bolland, came on an Easter afternoon game celebrating Gordie Howe's 85th birthday in which the Red Wings wore Mr. Hockey's retired number 9 jersey during warmup.
Chicago added four more markers to beat Detroit during the 724th meeting between these 87 year rivals by a score of 7-1 in Hockeytown.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Omark's Shootout Goal

On March 31st in 2009, the 97th pick in the 2007 NHL Draft scored a spectacular shootout goal for Sweden in a friendly with Switzerland.

Eight months later, Linus Omark was tapped for a shootout attempt in his NHL debut and beat Tampa Bay Lightning backstop Dan Ellis with a spin-o-rama move, cinching a 4-3 win for the Edmonton Oilers.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Today In NHL History - Getzlaf Gloves Flames Goal

On March 30th in 2011, Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf tricked referee Gord Dwyer and the off-ice video review crew when he grabbed a puck that had clearly crossed the goal line and was resting on netminder Ray Emery's arm, and inconspicuously placed it in the crease after the whistle preventing Calgary's tying goal.

For his encore, Getzlaf denied allegations relating to his suspect role in the incident during a second period intermission television interview.

Needless to say, the Flames were none too pleased with the officials' oversight and didn't hesitate to share their thoughts after the game.

The controversial call crushed Calgary's playoff hopes as Anaheim scored shortly thereafter and eventually won by a score of 4-2, preventing the Flames from pulling within a point of the final playoff spot with four games to play. Calgary ultimately missed the playoffs by three points.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bouwmeester's Own Goal

On March 30th in 2012, Calgary Flames blueliner Jay Bouwmeester intercepted a pass from Colorado Avalanche forward Mark Olver and accidentally tucked it past the outstretched right pad of Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff for an own goal to open the scoring in a must-win game.
Bouwmeester explained, "It was rolling and I tried to play it across my body and put it in the corner. Obviously, it didn't go in the corner. It's not a very good feeling, that's for sure".

Colorado added three goals to Bouwmeester's own goal, credited to Olver, to beat Calgary by a score of 4-1 extinguishing their playoff hopes.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Today In NHL History - Steven Stamkos' Own Goal

On March 29th in 2014, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos fired a pass past defenseman Michael Kostka which deflected off the boards and ended up in his own empty net during a delayed penalty, putting the Buffalo Sabres up 3-2 midway through the third period. Stamkos' own goal was credited to Cory Conacher, the Sabres skater whistled for hooking prompting Ben Bishop to abandon his post.

Stamkos would save the day setting up the tying goal on the ensuing powerplay and scoring the overtime winner for a 4-3 win, finishing the evening with two goals and an assist (in addition to his own goal) and completing what he described as an "uncharacteristic hat trick".

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Tie Domi Fights Fan

On March 29th in 2001, Tie Domi of the Toronto Maple Leafs pummeled Philadelphia Flyers fan Chris Falcone who, upon being sprayed with water by the bruiser, banged his way through the plexiglass into the penalty box.

Falcone required stitches in his forehead and Domi received a $1000 fine from the league. Toronto beat Philadelphia that night 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Domi Elbows Niedermayer.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Today In NHL History - Patrick Eaves Shootout Miss

On March 27th in 2010, former first round draft pick Patrick Eaves of the Detroit Red Wings tripped and fell during a 9th round shootout attempt against netminder Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
Even Eaves enjoyed a laugh about the gaffe afterward the game.
The Red Wings eventually sealed a 1-0 shootout win over the Predators that night on the strength of Niklas Kronwall's 11th round score.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Today In NHL History - Naslund Trade (PIT-VAN)

On March 26th in 1996, the Vancouver Canucks acquired Markus Naslund from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Alex Stojanov resulting in each team trading their first round selection from the 1991 NHL Entry Draft (16th for 7th, respectively).

Stojanov skated in 45 games for Pittsburgh over the next two seasons amassing six points (2G, 4A) in the process. He spent the remainder of his career in the minors. Naslund, on the other hand, played in 894 games over 12 seasons with Vancouver, serving as team captain for seven and setting club records for goals (346) and points (756). It remains the best trade ever made by the Vancouver Canucks.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Today In NHL History - Shorthouse's First Game

On March 24th in 1998, John Shorthouse called his first NHL game as a paid play-by-play announcer for the Vancouver Canucks filling in for Hall of Famer Jim Robson and working alongside Tom Larscheid. Eighteen months later he inherited the full-time role and his mug has remained behind the microphone ever since.

Shorthouse's debut saw the return of recently traded fan favorites Trevor Linden and Gino Odjick as New York Islanders, facing the team that drafted them for the first time. Highlights included Odjick's first period pounding of trade counterpart Jason Strudwick.

Mike Keenan's Canucks beat Rick Bowness' Islanders 4-3 that night with goals from Alex Mogilny (2), Pavel Bure and Donald Brashear.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Today In NHL History - Fastest Hat Trick

On March 23rd in 1952, Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks scored three third period goals in 21 seconds against New York Rangers netminder Lorne Anderson laying claim to the fastest hat trick ever had in the NHL.

Assisting on each score, linemate Gus Bodnar owns the league's quickest three assists to date. The hat trick came with Chicago trailing 6-2 in the final frame. The Blackhawks ultimately beat the Rangers 7–6.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Richard's Three Stars

On March 23rd in 1944, Maurice "Rocket" Richard was awarded each of the game's Three Stars after his five goal Stanley Cup Semifinal performance, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Upon being announced the game's Third Star, fans booed believing none had outperformed Richard that night. When the Rocket was called for the Second Star and then First Star, the Forum faithful applauded the historic moment. Only Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin has replicated this feat earning all Three Stars at the ACC on October 11, 2007.

Montreal won the series against Toronto 4-1 and beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final claiming their first Cup in 13 years.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Today In NHL History - Malarchuk's Throat Slit

On March 22nd in 1989, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk had his throat inadvertently slit by the skate blade of Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues when he became tangled with Uwe Krupp in a chase for the puck.
Losing copious amounts of blood with every heartbeat, Malarchuk's life was saved by the quick actions of the team trainer Jim Pizzutelli and the good fortune of being in the goal closest to dressing rooms.

Fearing the worst, Clint requested a priest and had the team call his mother as doctors sewed over 300 stitches into the wound. Miraculously Malarchuk spent only one night in the hospital and made a full recovery, returning to practice in four days and playing in a game a week after that.

The incident remains among the most horrific and life-threatening injuries ever sustained by a player during a NHL game.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Richard Zednik's Throat Slit.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Today In NHL History - Shane O'Brien's Own Goal

On March 21st in 2009, Vancouver Canucks boozehound blueliner Shane O'Brien inadvertently scored an own goal into his empty net during a delayed penalty, putting the Phoenix Coyotes up 4-0 midway through the match.

Ironically, the goal was credited to Viktor Tikhonov the same Phoenix player who was penalized moments earlier for hooking Vancouver's Sami Salo. The Coyotes beat the Canucks that night by a score of 5-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Today In NHL History - Bobby Orr

On March 20th in 1948, Robert Gordon "Bobby" Orr was born in Parry Sound, Ontario. Widely considered the greatest defenceman to ever play the game, Number 4 revolutionized the blueline position with his fluid skating style and unprecedented offensive approach.

Orr entered the NHL at the age of 18 as the league's highest paid player (earning $25,000/year) and soon after became its best. During his abbreviated and injury-riddled career, Orr won the Calder (1967), Norris (1968-1975), Art Ross (1970, 1975), Hart (1970-1972), Conn Smythe (1970, 1972), and Stanley Cup (1970, 1972). He even scored the championship goal in both Cup wins. When it was all over, Orr had amassed 270 goals and 645 assists in 657 games, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy in points per game.

To this day, Orr remains the only player to win all four major awards (Hart, Conn Smythe, Art Ross, Norris) in the same year (1970) and the only defenseman to lead the league in scoring (1970, 1975). He also still holds single season NHL records for plus/minus rating (+124), points by a defenseman (139), and assists by a defenseman (102), as well as leading the league in plus/minus six times (1969-1972, 1974-1975) and being named the top defenseman eight years in a row (1968-1975).

On June 9, 1976, Orr signed with Chicago on the misrepresentations of his agent Alan Eagleson despite being offered an 18.6% ownership share in the Bruins to remain with Boston. Orr's injuries limited him to 26 games over the next three seasons, ultimately retiring in 1979 after over a dozen knee surgeries. Famously, he never cashed a Blackhawks pay check, stating that he wouldn't accept a salary if didn't play.

The NHL waived the mandatory three year waiting period for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making him the youngest player (age 31) to be enshrined. On January 9, 1979, the Bruins retired his number 4 jersey. Much of the ceremony had to be scrapped due to the unstoppable applauding of the Boston Garden faithful.

In addition to his NHL awards and records, Orr was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, the greatest athlete in Boston history by the Boston Globe (beating out Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Carl Yastrzemski, and Bob Cousy), and the second greatest hockey player of all time by The Hockey News (behind only Wayne Gretzky).

Bobby Orr, a legend ahead of his time.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Harry Neale Fights Fan

On March 20th in 1982, Vancouver Canucks head coach Harry Neale traded punches with Nordiques fan Pierre Fournel in response to an attack against Tiger Williams, resulting in several players entering the stands at Le Colisée before police restored order.

Punished with a 10 game suspension for the fisticuffs, assistant coach Roger Neilson guided the team to an undefeated record (9-0-1) during Neale's absence and remained behind the bench for the duration of the club's unprecedented playoff run, leading the Cinderella Canucks all the way to their franchise first Stanley Cup Final.

Vancouver was ultimately swept by the New York Islanders in the Final.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Today In NHL History - Rocket Richard Riot

On March 17th in 1955, Montreal fans rioted when NHL President Clarence Campbell visited the Forum after suspending Maurice Richard for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs for actions four days earlier.

Sparked by an eight stitch highstick from Hal Laycoe of the Boston Bruins, the league leading scorer shattered his stick on Laycoe's face then grabbed another from a teammate and continued to beat him. Making matters worse, Richard punched out linesman Cliff Thompson during the melee, the Rocket's second assault on an official in two months.

Fuming from the suspension, Canadiens fans threw eggs, bottles, and eventually a punch at the league boss before a tear gas bomb set off not far from his seat. The chaos inside spilled to the streets with 10,000 fans and 200 police engaged in a riot resulting in 100 arrests, scores of injuries, and $100,000 in damages.
Trailing Detroit 4-1 at the end of the first period, the game was declared a forfeit. Montreal would go on to lose to the same Red Wings club in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Richard returned the following season racking up a record five straight Stanley Cup wins for Montreal.

That's today in NHL history.