In hockey, like in everything else, there's a first time for everything and players remember some of those like it was yesterday.
While they'll all remember scoring their first goal, everyone's experience is different. Four players remember their first NHL goal.
Defenceman, 34 NHL goals
TEAM: Nashville Predators
FIRST GOAL: October 16, 2003 vs. St. Louis Blues
GOALIE: Chris Osgood
Before signing with Vancouver this summer, Dan Hamhuis spent his whole NHL career in Nashville with the Predators, where he was the first round pick in the 2001 draft.
But he’s no stranger to the West coast, having grown up in Smithers, BC and playing four years of junior hockey in Prince George.
Returning to BC is special but nothing will beat the first six years he had in the League, which includes his very first goal – that is between just him, the Predators, and someone else, who gets to share that first.
“I think it was on the powerplay, either 4-on-3 or 5-on-3 situation and I got a pass from Jordin Tootoo in the slot across the top, slap shot against Chris Osgood into the glove side. It was actually not a bad goal – I don’t score a lot of pretty ones but that was one of the nicer ones I’ve ever scored.”
“It was his first NHL point too so we both shared something in the goal.”
For the record, it was 4-on-3 and Marek Zidlichy got the first assist. The goal was the eventual game winner but Hamhuis wasn’t done for the night.
He added an assist on the next goal, shorthanded, and earned the game’s third star honour as the Preds won 4-1 over the Blues on home ice. Not bad.
“I was kind of surprised that it happened that quick because it was maybe the third or fourth game of the season so I wasn’t really expecting that but it was kind of nice to get that out of the way.”
Hamhuis finished out his rookie year with seven goals and 19 assists, including a five-point game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His 26 points was fourth best among rookie defensemen in the 2003-04 season.
Where it is now: “I never did get it. I got my first goal as a Canuck though - I got that one. But I never did end up getting that first one. They lost it or something.”
Right wing, 120 NHL goals
TEAM: New York Rangers
FIRST GOAL: November 20, 2001 vs. Colorado Avalanche
GOALIE: Patrick Roy
New York City. Madison Square Garden. And Patrick Roy on a three-game shutout streak (the record at the time was a four-game streak set by Bill Durnan). The scene was set for something big to happen.
Luckily for Mikael Samuelsson, it was set up for him.
“I remember the whole play. I got the puck at their blueline and Patrick Roy came out to get it so we both skated towards the puck so I chipped the puck over him – it sounds weird but I did it – and another defenceman came and had an open net so I faked it. Roy slid over and then I had a really open net and I put it in from pretty far away so I nearly missed the empty net but I got it in so it was good.”
Samuelsson broke Roy’s 192:39 shutout streak, which looked like it was on its way to beating Durnan’s record at 309:21.
Samuelsson started his career in San Jose in the 2000-01 season, where he appeared in four games before being traded to the Rangers the next year. He started 2001 in the AHL but after eight games with the Hartford Wolfpack, he got a recall to play on the big stage.
It took him eight games to get his first goal but didn’t have to wait for his next one as he scored the gamer winner later that game. The Rangers won 5-3 and Samuelsson finished the year in New York.
If you’ve never played in the NHL, then you won’t know what it feels like to score the first of an NHL career but Samuelsson sums it up simply.
“Awesome. I was really pumped up like after every time I score.”
Where it is now: I’m not sure. Maybe I have it packed somewhere in Sweden.
Left Wing, 105 NHL goals
TEAM: Edmonton Oilers
FIRST GOAL: October 9, 2003 vs. San Jose Sharks
GOALIE: Evgeni Nabokov
As the fifth overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft of the New York Islanders, Raffi Torres had lots of expectations from his critics, as most first round picks do. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers at the deadline of his second year with the Isles, where he finished the 2002-03 season in Hamilton in the AHL.
After 31 NHL games, Torres had just six assists but a move to Edmonton proved to help the Toronto-native find his role in the NHL.
“I was with Edmonton in the first game of the season in my third year in the League. It was the game-winning goal, I believe. It was just a rebound and got it past Nabokov.”
“It took me 34 games or something like that so it was long overdue but it was a pretty big weight off my shoulder. I think I had a couple more goals later that week so it was okay.”
He finished the year with 20 goals in his first full NHL season and tied second with Ethan Moreau for goals on the team. Torres was Edmonton’s fifth leading scorer with 34 points (20-14-34).
He bested that number the following season when he scored 27 goals and 41 points (27-14-41) in his second year with the Oilers.
In 432 games before this season, Torres wasn’t a fan favourite in Vancouver, having scored two times more than against any other team. He had 14 goals in 32 meetings with the Canucks, his highest total against any opponent. He had seven goals against Chicago and Dallas, which is the next highest.
Where it is now: In Edmonton, they frame it so my mom has it back in her house.
Defenceman, 33 NHL goals
TEAM: Phoenix Coyotes
FIRST GOAL: October 5, 2005 at Vancouver Canucks
GOALIE: Dan Cloutier
Watch it again
Keith Ballard played three years of collegiate hockey with the University of Minnesota before going pro during the lockout year in 2004-05.
Originally drafted by Buffalo in 2002 in the first round, 11th overall, Ballard was traded twice before stepping foot on NHL ice. He eventually stuck in Phoenix for three years before being dealt to Florida in 2008 at the NHL Entry Draft.
He got his first shot at the NHL in the following season, where he played a full 82-game season with the Coyotes.
Ballard made his NHL debut in Vancouver, where he also notched his first goal and no doubt the emotions were high that day for the, then, 22 year-old.
“I was excited about that whole game. I was so nervous and so excited at the same time just to be playing and to have your first game that I don’t even remember how I felt. I know I was excited the whole day leading up to it.”
“I got a pass out of the corner Mike Johnson, I believe – current TSN analyst. I shot a little left on Dan Cloutier, who’s now my landlord.”
He finished the season with eight goals and 39 points (8-31-39), which was third amongst rookie d-men that year and 16 overall in a freshman class that included Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. His 31 assists was second best behind Ryan Whitney’s 32 for rookie defencemen in the 2005-06 season.
He was voted the Coyotes Hardest working player for two consecutive years (05-06 and 06-07) and was co-winner for Coyotes Man of the year in 2005-06 with Fredrik Sjostrom.
Where it is now: Good question. It’s probably in a box. I’ve got a bunch of pucks somewhere in a box so it’s probably with those.