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History

Gordie Howe, 'Mr. Hockey,' turns 85 years old

Sunday, 03.31.2013 / 9:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

To millions of fans worldwide, Gordie Howe will always be "Mr. Hockey." To those of us who were fortunate enough to see him play, it's almost incomprehensible that Howe turns 85 on Sunday.

Howe, a kid from Floral, Saskatchewan, born on March 31, 1928, started skating when he was 4 years old, was playing in an organized league before he was 10 and had a tryout with the New York Rangers at 15. He didn't impress the Blueshirts, but a year later, a scout for the Detroit Red Wings discovered him and sent him to the team's training camp. Two years later, he was in the NHL -- he scored a goal in his first game with the Red Wings, on Oct. 16, 1946.

He went on to score 800 more regular-season goals, the last coming on April 6, 1980, in his 1,767th game. By that time, he was playing with sons Mark and Marty with the Hartford Whalers -- and taking a regular shift at age 52. Not even a litany of injuries that included more than 300 stitches, damaged knee cartilage, broken ribs, a broken wrist, broken toes, a dislocated shoulder, numerous scalp wounds, an ankle injury and a near-brush with death from a fractured skull in the spring of 1950 could stop him.

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Bruins legend Bobby Orr turns 65

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 12:14 PM / History

NHL.com

The greatest defensemen to ever put on a pair of skates celebrated his 65th birthday Wednesday.

Bobby Orr, the kid from Perry Sound, Ontario, who helped rescue the Boston Bruins from the darkest period in franchise history and delivered a golden age of hockey to The Hub, was born March 20, 1948. The grandson of an Irish soccer player and son of a World War II veteran with the Royal Canadian Navy, Orr would grow up to change the sport he loved on many levels.

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Sittler's single-game points record still untouched

Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 10:46 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Records are made to be broken. But the mark Darryl Sittler set on Feb. 7, 1976, continues to stand the test of time.

On that early February night, Sittler shattered one of the most famous marks in hockey -- Maurice Richard's record of eight points in a game, a record set by "The Rocket" in December 1944 and matched only once in the next 32 years -- by Bert Olmstead in 1954. Richard had five goals and three assists; Sittler had one more of each, scoring six times and setting up four more goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs routed the Boston Bruins 11-4.

Sittler's 10-point night came out of nowhere. The Maple Leafs entered the game in a 1-4-2 funk that had led owner Harold Ballard to call him out for a lack of production. They were barely over .500 at 21-20-11. The Bruins, on the other hand, came to Toronto 20 points ahead of the Leafs in the Adams Division standings, having won seven in a row and riding a 15-1-1 surge. Boston had gotten a boost from the goaltending of rookie Dave Reece, who posted a 7-4-2 record while backing up Gilles Gilbert before the Bruins announced that longtime goaltender Gerry Cheevers was returning from the World Hockey Association.

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Volcan, Howatt made NHL history 30 years ago

Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 2:06 PM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Leading up to the game between the New Jersey Devils and Hartford Whalers on Jan. 15, 1983, there was no indication that history might be made. But once the game started in Hartford, Conn., Mickey Volcan and Garry Howatt became the central figures in an unusual and historic moment that likely never will be repeated. Thirty years later, they still occasionally talk about being the only players in NHL history to serve as emergency on-ice officials in an NHL game.

On their way to the game from Boston, referee Ron Fournier and linesman Ron Asselstine got stuck in a snowstorm. So by the time both teams were ready to drop the puck, there was only one linesman available to officiate the game. Just 15 minutes before game time, linesman Ron Foyt assumed refereeing duties and approached each team about finding replacement linesmen.

"All of a sudden, [Whalers coach] Larry Kish said, 'We're going to have a player from each team and you're going to represent our team,'" Volcan, who was unable to play that night due to a hand injury sustained in Hartford's morning skate, said. "So we put on some sweats and black practice jerseys and they called us in to the room prior to the game. We sat down and he [Foyt] went through it with us."

"He [Foyt] told us to stay out of the way," Howatt, the Devils' enforcer who was recovering from a knee injury at the time, said. "I was hoping for a fight to break out so I could get in there. It was interesting."

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Remembering those NHL family members lost in 2012

Monday, 12.31.2012 / 8:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The end of the year offers the chance to reflect on the previous 12 months.

For all of the tremendous accomplishments that took place this past year, 2012 was also defined by those we lost -- including a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

Here's a look at some of those in the hockey world who left us during the past year:

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Arbour hits 80 with historical coaching legacy

Thursday, 11.01.2012 / 4:08 PM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

He's in Florida now. With the exception of a one-game cameo in 2007 that gave him an even 1,500 games as coach of the New York Islanders, he hasn't been behind the bench since the spring of 1994.

Legendary Islanders coach Al Arbour celebrated his 80th birthday Thursday. (Photo: Getty Images)

But as he turns 80 on Thursday, Al Arbour's place as one of the great coaches in NHL history is more than secure.

Arbour did his coaching apprenticeship in St. Louis, where he went from a glasses-wearing thirty-something defenseman to a rookie coach with a team that had been swept in three straight Stanley Cup Finals. After 107 games over parts of three seasons, the Blues let him go -- but he wasn't out of work long.

The 1972-73 New York Islanders set NHL records for futility in their first season, with first-time coaches Earl Ingarfield and Phil Goyette behind the bench. That summer, GM Bill Torrey turned to Arbour to get the Islanders on the right track.

"I had known Al for a long time," Torrey said during a 2011 interview with MSG Network. "There are some people -- you just have a sense or a feel that they fit the situation. I think the most important thing we were looking at immediately was to rebuild our defense.

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First to 500, 'Rocket' Richard set scoring standard

Friday, 10.19.2012 / 9:00 AM / History

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

On Oct. 19, 1957, Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals. The Rocket set the standard for excellence in finishing. Since breaking the 500-goal barrier, 41 other NHL greats have followed in his footsteps. To commemorate Richard's seminal achievement from 55 years ago, NHL.com talked with several legends who followed him about Richard starting one of the sport's most exclusive clubs.

"[Richard] was better than Babe Ruth. I remember [Habs' GM Frank] Selke always made a statement. Whenever the game was tied, he'd say 'Rocket's going to score the winning goal."
-- Dickie Moore on Maurice Richard

There are many ways to define a great NHL goal-scorer. He must possess the skill to finish and the persistence to do it over and over again; the vision to see openings that defensemen don't and the physical gifts to capitalize on them; the strength to shake off defenders and the patience to ignore instigators; and, most of all, the relentless effort that makes continuous scoring feats look effortless.

A great goal-scorer can practice his craft from anywhere. He can poke home a loose puck from on top of the goaltender, blast one in from the blue line, cut in from the boards or one-time a puck from the slot, all with the same intoxicating precision. He must score in the biggest moments, he must score to win games and reach the playoffs, and he must score to raise the Stanley Cup.

He scores and scores again until we, as an audience, are forced to stand up and call him, simply, great.

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'Golden Jet' used famed slap shot to reach 500 goals

Friday, 10.19.2012 / 9:00 AM / History

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

On Oct. 19, 1957, Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals. The Rocket set the standard for excellence in finishing. Since breaking the 500-goal barrier, 41 other NHL greats have followed in his footsteps. To commemorate Richard's seminal achievement from 55 years ago, NHL.com talked with several legends who followed him about being part of one of the sport's most exclusive clubs.

Bryan Bickell
Left Wing - CHI
G: 610 | A: 560 | PTS: 1170
Bobby Hull was playing in his fifth NHL game when Maurice "Rocket" Richard scored his 500th goal.

Though he might not have envisioned it at the time, Hull would eventually join Richard and Gordie Howe as the third player ever to score 500 goals.

On Oct. 19, 1957, Hull's Chicago Blackhawks paid a visit to the Montreal Forum, where Richard and the Canadiens were waiting. Five minutes into the contest and with the Habs on the power play, Jean Beliveau fed Richard for the decisive wrist shot.

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Robitaille relished achievement of reaching 500 goals

Friday, 10.19.2012 / 9:00 AM / History

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

On Oct. 19, 1957, Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals. The Rocket set the standard for excellence in finishing. Since breaking the 500-goal barrier, 41 other NHL greats have followed in his footsteps. To commemorate Richard's seminal achievement from 55 years ago, NHL.com talked with several legends who followed him about being part of one of the sport's most exclusive clubs.

Left Wing - LAK
G: 668 | A: 726 | PTS: 1394
Luc Robitaille scored his 500th goal on Jan. 7, 1999, but it wasn't until a couple of days later, when he received a fax from Phil Esposito, that he realized the gravity of the accomplishment.

"Keep in mind, when I was a kid growing up -- when I was 6 years old he played in the [Summit] Series -- you always heard about Phil Esposito," Robitaille told NHL.com. "The fax said, 'Congratulations on 500 goals, welcome to the club!'

"I remember thinking, 'Whoa, that's pretty cool!' I'm part of the 500 club, you know? I didn't know there was any club, but I knew what he meant. That's a very special thing."

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Bossy followed Richard into pair of exclusive clubs

Friday, 10.19.2012 / 9:00 AM / History

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I don't want to sound brash, but I knew I was going to get there. You know when you're averaging 50 goals a year, the only thing that could've stopped me at the time, I believed, was injuries. I was quite lucky not to have any serious injuries leading up to the 500th." -- Mike Bossy

On Oct. 19, 1957, Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals. The Rocket set the standard for excellence in finishing. Since breaking the 500-goal barrier, 41 other NHL greats have followed in his footsteps. To commemorate Richard's seminal achievement from 55 years ago, NHL.com talked with several legends who followed him about being part of one of the sport's most exclusive clubs.

In 1980-81, Mike Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games, becoming the second player to accomplish the feat.

The first? Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis