Skip to main content

Honoring Founder's Day with 94 signature moments

by John Kreiser
The seeds of what has grown into the best hockey league in the world were sewn 94 years ago today.

After a month of meetings, a group of men from Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City signed an agreement that resulted in the formation of the National Hockey League. Frank Calder was chosen as the fledgling league's first president; his salary was $800.

Today, the NHL is 94 years old and boasts 30 teams in Canada and the United States -- as well as a worldwide talent base and a global audience.

With a tip of the helmet to Ryan Smyth (the only player to wear No. 94 for the majority of a lengthy career), here's is a look at 94 NHL highlights to commemorate the 94th anniversary of Founders Day.


Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina (left) and Joe Malone (right). (Getty Images)
Dec. 19, 1917 -- The NHL opened play with two games. Dave Ritchie got the honor of scoring the first goal in NHL history, then scored again in the third period as the Montreal Wanderers downed Toronto in a 10-9 goal fest. In the other game, the Montreal Canadiens defeated Ottawa 7-4 on the strength of five goals by Joe Malone, the NHL's first bona-fide star.

Feb. 18, 1918 -- Canadiens goaltender Georges Vezina had the honor of recording the first shutout in NHL history when he blanked Toronto 9-0.


Jan. 31, 1920 -- Quebec's Joe Malone scored seven goals in a 10-6 victory against the Toronto St. Pats. He is still the only player to score seven times in an NHL game.

April 4, 1921 -- The Ottawa Senators became the first NHL team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups when they beat the Vancouver Millionaires 2-1 in the fifth and deciding game. Jack Darragh scored both goals for the Senators, who won four Cups in eight years.

Feb. 14, 1923 -- The NHL took to the air with the first radio broadcast of a League game, as CFCA in Toronto aired the third period of Toronto's 6-4 win against Ottawa.

March 31, 1923 -- King Clancy did it all as Ottawa beat Edmonton 2-1 in Game 2 to win the Stanley Cup Final. Clancy played all three forward positions, skated as both a left and right defenseman -- and took a two-minute turn in goal when Clint Benedict sat out a penalty.

Nov. 29, 1924 -- The Montreal Forum opened, with the Canadiens routing the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-1. The Canadiens played there for more than seven decades, winning 22 Stanley Cups, before moving to the arena now known as the Bell Centre in 1995.

Dec. 1, 1924 -- The NHL arrived in the United States when the Boston Bruins played their first game, edging the Montreal Maroons 2-1 at the Boston Arena (now Matthews Arena, the home of Northeastern University). The Bruins finished last in their first season, but were in the Stanley Cup Final in 1927 and moved to the Boston Garden a year after that.

Nov. 18, 1926 -- The NHL's other new U.S.-based franchise, the Detroit Cougars, made their debut at the Border Cities Arena in Windsor, Ont., with a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. The franchise moved into the Olympia in Detroit the following year and was renamed the Red Wings in 1932 after the team was purchased by James Norris.

April 13, 1927 -- The Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 to wrap up a four-game victory in the Final and win the Stanley Cup. The Senators were the first team to be awarded the Cup for winning the NHL championship; prior to that, the Cup was given to the winner of a series between the champions of the East and West.

Nov. 16, 1927 -- After seeing how New York fans reacted to the arrival of the Americans in 1926, Madison Square Garden brought its own team, the Rangers, to the NHL. The Blueshirts made their debut before a packed house at the Garden by beating the Montreal Maroons 1-0; they wound up winning the American Division in their inaugural season. One night later, another newcomer, the Chicago Black Hawks (the team's name before changing to Blackhawks in 1986), won their first game by beating Toronto 4-1.

April 7, 1928 -- At age 44, New York Rangers coach/GM Lester Patrick turned goaltender in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Maroons. When Lorne Chabot had to leave the game with an injury, Patrick put on the gear and sparked the Rangers to a series-tying 2-1 overtime win. With Patrick back behind the bench, the Rangers went on to win the best-of-five series for their first championship in just their second NHL season. They were the first U.S.-based NHL team to win the Cup.

Dec. 15, 1929 -- The Black Hawks opened Chicago Stadium with a 3-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 14,212 fans. The Hawks played in the "Madhouse on Madison" through the 1993-94 season, winning the Stanley Cup three times.


Sept. 27, 1930 -- Hockey took a major step toward becoming the game we know today when the offsides rule was approved by the NHL Board of Governors. According to the new rule: "The puck must be propelled into the attacking zone before any player of the attacking side can enter that zone."

Nov. 12, 1931 -- One of the temples of hockey, Maple Leafs Gardens in Toronto, hosted its first game when the Chicago Black Hawks beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in front of an opening-night crowd of 13,542. The Leafs won 11 Stanley Cups before leaving the Gardens for the Air Canada Centre in 1999.

Jan. 1, 1933 -- For the first time, NHL hockey could be heard all across Canada as broadcasts of Toronto Maple Leafs games began to be aired on 20 stations across the nation. Foster Hewitt, who had been doing hockey on the radio since 1923, did the play-by-play from "the gondola," a broadcast booth 56 feet above the ice at the Gardens. The broadcasts -- a precursor to CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" -- soon attracted more than 1 million listeners.

Feb. 14, 1934 -- Maple Leaf Gardens hosted the Ace Bailey All-Star Benefit Game to raise money for Bailey's recovery after his career was ended due to a hit by Boston's Eddie Shore. The game raised more than $20,000 and saw one of the most dramatic moments in hockey history when Bailey extended his hand toward Shore as the Boston defenseman came out to get his All-Star jersey. Two more benefit games were played before the NHL officially established the All-Star Game in 1947.

March 24, 1936 -- The Montreal Maroons and Detroit Red Wings played the longest game in NHL history. Mud Bruneteau's goal at 16:30 of the sixth overtime gave the Wings a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals. The Wings went on to sweep the best-of-five series and beat Toronto for their first Stanley Cup.

Jan. 24, 1937 -- The career of Montreal Canadiens star Howie Morenz was ended suddenly when he suffered a broken leg and ankle during a game with Chicago. Though he appeared to be recovering, he died suddenly on March 8 due to an undetected blood clot. Nearly 50,000 fans filed past his casket at the Forum to pay their respects to the "Babe Ruth of Hockey." Eight years later, he was among the initial class of inductees at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

April 2, 1939 -- Boston's Mel Hill finished earning his nickname, "Sudden Death," by scoring his third overtime goal in Game 7 of the Bruins' Stanley Cup semifinal series against the New York Rangers. The Bruins went on to win the Cup by beating Toronto in five games in the first best-of-seven Final. More than seven decades later, Hill is still the only player to score three OT winners in one series.


Feb. 25, 1940 -- The New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 at Madison Square Garden in the first hockey game televised in the United States. The game aired on station W2XBS in New York, with one camera in a fixed position, to 300 TV receivers in New York.

April 18, 1942 -- The Toronto Maple Leafs completed the greatest comeback in sports history, beating the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Leafs became the first team ever to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, and they are still the only team in any sport to do it in the championship round.

March 23, 1944 -- In perhaps the greatest individual performance in playoff history, Maurice Richard scored all five of Montreal's goals in the Canadiens' 5-1 victory against Toronto in Game 2 of their semifinal series. Richard scored his five goals in a span of just more than 27 minutes bridging the second and third periods; coach Dick Irvin kept him on the bench in the final minutes of the game with the Canadiens far ahead. Richard was given all three stars, the first time that had ever been done.

March 18, 1945 -- Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to reach the 50-goal mark in a single season. Richard beat Boston's Harvey Bennett with 2:15 left in Montreal's season finale to reach the milestone. No NHL player reached 50 goals again until 1961, by which time the schedule had increased from 50 to 70 games.

Sept. 4, 1946 -- Clarence Campbell became the NHL's third president, replacing Red Dutton, who had presided over the League since the death of Frank Calder in 1943. In his 31 years as president, Campbell's achievements included the successful guidance of the League's expansion from six to 12 teams in 1967-68.

Oct. 13, 1947 -- The first NHL All-Star Game was played in Toronto, with a team of All-Stars defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs 4-3. The game was played before the start of the season through 1967, after which it was moved to its current mid-season slot.

April 16, 1949 -- The Toronto Maple Leafs became the first NHL team to win three straight Stanley Cup titles with a 5-1 victory against Detroit in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The win was the Leafs' ninth straight in the Final.


Feb. 5, 1950 -- Montreal's Dick Irvin became the first coach in NHL history to reach 500 victories when the Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 5-3 at the Forum. Irvin finished his career with 692 victories, still No. 3 on the all-time list.

April 23, 1950 -- Detroit forward Pete Babando scored 8:30 into the second overtime to give the Red Wings a 4-3 victory against the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. It's still the longest Game 7 in the history of the Final.

March 23, 1952 -- Chicago's Bill Mosienko set an NHL record that has stood for nearly six decades when he scored three times in 21 seconds during the third period of the Black Hawks' season finale in New York. Gus Bodnar assisted on all three goals; they were all scored against Lorne Anderson.

April 15, 1952 -- The octopus made its first NHL appearance during the Detroit Red Wings' playoff run. Brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano threw one on the ice at Olympia Stadium. Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. In the Original Six era, eight wins were needed to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings won the Cup that year, and the octopus has come to be the symbol of playoff hockey in Detroit ever since.

Oct. 11, 1952 -- The Montreal Canadiens beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in the first NHL game to be shown on television in Canada. Three weeks later, a game between the Maple Leafs and Bruins in Toronto became the first to be shown as part of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. In 1956-57, CBS became the first U.S. network to televise NHL games.

Jan. 1, 1954 -- The Zamboni, a new kind of ice-cleaning machine that's now a staple of life at hockey rinks around the world, made its NHL debut, resurfacing the ice for a game at the Boston Garden. At that time, the machine was being used by the Ice Capades at various facilities on their tour. The Bruins were so impressed by the results they placed an order with the company and the machine was delivered to Boston Garden on Oct. 22, 1954.

April 16, 1954 --
Tony Leswick's goal at 4:29 of overtime in Game 7 of the Final gave the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens. No Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final since has gone past regulation.

Jan. 23, 1956 -- Montreal star Jean Beliveau, in the process of leading the Canadiens to the first of their five consecutive Stanley Cup championships, became the first NHL player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

Jan. 18, 1958 -- The Boston Bruins called up forward Willie O'Ree for their game against Montreal. O'Ree became the first black player in the NHL. He played four games before being returned to the minors and 43 more with the Bruins in 1960-61, then starred with Los Angeles and San Diego in the Western Hockey League well into the 1970s.

Nov. 1, 1959 -- Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante took a shot from New York's Andy Bathgate in the face during a game at Madison Square Garden and went off for repairs. When he returned, he was wearing a mask. He wore one for the rest of his career, and the mask has become a permanent fixture in hockey at all levels.


April 14, 1960 -- The Montreal Canadiens won their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup, completing a four-game sweep with a 4-0 victory in Toronto. The game also marked the final appearance by Montreal legend Maurice Richard, who retired prior to the start of the 1960-61 season with a then-record 544 regular-season goals.

Nov. 27. 1960 -- Gordie Howe, playing in his 938th regular-season game, became the first player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points in his career. Howe reached the milestone with an assist during Detroit's 2-0 victory against Toronto at the Olympia. Little could anyone have realized that Howe would score another 850 points before finally retiring.

March 16, 1961 -- Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion became the NHL's second 50-goal scorer, beating Cesare Maniago of Toronto at the Montreal Forum in the Canadiens' 68th game (his 62nd) to join Maurice Richard as the only players to score 50 goals to that point in NHL history.

Nov. 7, 1962 -- Perhaps the most unbreakable streak in all of sports ended when Chicago goaltender Glenn Hall took himself out of the Hawks' game against Boston at 10:21 of the first period with a back injury. Hall played 552 consecutive games (502 in the regular season and 50 in the playoffs) and 33,135 minutes without a break.

June 5, 1963 -- The NHL held its first amateur draft at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. The six teams combined to select 21 players, with Montreal taking Garry Monahan with the first pick. Its successor, the NHL Draft, now lasts seven rounds and results in more than 200 players being chosen.

Nov. 10, 1963 -- Gordie Howe, who already owned the NHL career record for points and assists, added the record for goals to his collection when he scored for No. 545. The 35-year-old beat Montreal goaltender Charlie Hodge for a shorthanded goal in Detroit's 3-0 win, earning a 20-minute standing ovation from the 15,027 fans at the Olympia. Howe scored another 256 NHL goals before retiring in 1980.

March 22, 1964 -- Boston's Ed Johnston became the last ironman goaltender in NHL history. Johnston played all 60 minutes for the Bruins in a 4-3 loss to Chicago at Boston Garden, completing a season in which he played every minute of all 70 games. No goaltender since has matched that feat.

Jan. 27, 1965 -- Ulf Sterner of Sweden became the first European-born and -trained player in NHL history when he took the ice for the New York Rangers. Sterner played four games without registering a point, but wound up paving the way for a wave of Swedes and other Europeans.

March 12, 1966 -- Bobby Hull became the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season, breaking the mark held by Maurice Richard and Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion. Hull blasted a 40-foot slap shot past New York goaltender Cesare Maniago during the third period of a 4-2 win against the Rangers, earning a seven-minute standing ovation from the Black Hawks faithful at Chicago Stadium.

May 2, 1967 -- The Original Six era came to an end as the Toronto Maple Leafs won their fourth Stanley Cup in six years by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 of the Final.

Oct. 11, 1967 -- The NHL's expansion era officially began as five of the "Second Six" teams made their debuts. The Oakland Seals became the first to win a game when they beat fellow newcomer Philadelphia, 5-1. Minnesota and St. Louis tied 2-2, while Montreal beat Pittsburgh, 2-1.

Nov. 7, 1968 -- Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues scored six goals in an 8-0 victory at Philadelphia. Berenson is still the only player to score more than five times in a road game.

March 2, 1969 -- Boston's Phil Esposito became the first player in NHL history to reach the 100-point mark in a single season. Esposito reached the milestone with a goal in the Bruins' 4-0 victory against Pittsburgh at Boston Garden. Before the season ended, two hockey immortals -- Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe -- also reached 100 points.


Bobby Orr pictured with the statue commemorating his famous flying goal. (Photo: Getty Images)
May 10, 1970 -- Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins scored one of the most famous goals in hockey history, flying through the air after beating Glenn Hall 40 seconds into overtime to complete a Stanley Cup Final sweep of St. Louis with a 4-3 victory. The Bruins won the Cup for the first time since 1941; after winning again two years later, they didn't take home another championship until 2011.

March 20, 1971 -- History was made as two brothers faced each other in goal for the first time in an NHL game. Ken Dryden's Montreal Canadiens beat Dave Dryden's Buffalo Sabres 5-2 at the Forum. Dave played parts of nine seasons in the NHL with the Rangers, Black Hawks, Sabres and Oilers, while younger brother Ken won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and wound up in the Hall of Fame.

April 7, 1974 -- Andy Brown became the last NHL goaltender to go without a mask when he was in goal for Pittsburgh's 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Flames. Brown played three more seasons in the WHA; not surprisingly, his nickname was "Fearless."

May 19, 1974 -- The Philadelphia Flyers became the first expansion team to take home the Stanley Cup by beating the Boston Bruins 1-0 at the Spectrum in Game 6. Bernie Parent earned the shutout and was named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Flyers repeated in 1975, but haven't won the Cup since.

Nov. 7, 1975 -- The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, arch-rivals through much of the 1970s, made one of the biggest trades in NHL history when the Bruins sent center Phil Esposito and defenseman Carol Vadnais to the Rangers for center Jean Ratelle and defensemen Brad Park and Joe Zanussi. The Bruins got much the better of the trade, as Park and Ratelle helped them to the Stanley Cup Final in 1977 and '78.

Feb. 7, 1976 -- Toronto's Darryl Sittler made history against Boston at Maple Leaf Gardens with the biggest scoring night in NHL history. Sittler scored 6 goals and added 4 assists in an 11-2 victory, becoming the first (and still only) player to reach double figures in points in one game.

May 14, 1977 -- Montreal completed perhaps the greatest season in NHL history by beating the Bruins 2-1 in overtime at Boston Garden to complete a sweep of the Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens earned a regular-season record 132 points by going 60-8-12, then lost just two playoff games. 

May 21, 1979 -- The Montreal Canadiens won their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup by whipping the New York Rangers 4-1 at the Forum to complete a five-game blitz in the Final. It was the last NHL game for three Montreal immortals -- Ken Dryden, Jacques Lemaire and Yvan Cournoyer all retired -- while coach Scotty Bowman, who had led the Canadiens to six Cups in nine years, left to join the Buffalo Sabres.

Oct. 10, 1979 -- Three of the four World Hockey Association teams absorbed by the NHL made their debuts. The Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers all played on the road and lost. The Oilers' lineup included a skinny 18-year-old named Wayne Gretzky, who went on to tie Marcel Dionne for the scoring title.


Feb. 5, 1980 -- Past met future at the 32nd NHL All-Star Game in Detroit. The Wales Conference roster included 51-year-old Gordie Howe, who received a raucous ovation from the full house at Joe Louis Arena. The Campbell Conference squad included 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky, a legend in the making who had idolized Howe as a youngster. The past got the better of the future on this night, as Howe's team won 6-3, with Mr. Hockey getting an assist on the final goal in the last of his 23 All-Star appearances.

March 9, 1980 -- The Hartford Whalers put out a forward line that was really a family affair. Gordie Howe skated a shift with his two sons, Marty and Mark, during the second period of the Whalers' 1-1 tie with the Bruins in Boston. Mr. Hockey, 51, called it a career on April 11 after the Whalers were eliminated by Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs.

May 24, 1980 -- Bob Nystrom's goal at 7:11 of overtime in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final gave the New York Islanders a 5-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers and the first of their four consecutive Stanley Cups.

Jan. 24, 1981 -- Islanders forward Mike Bossy scored twice in the final five minutes against Quebec to reach the 50-goal mark in his 50th game of the season, matching the mark set 36 years earlier by Maurice Richard. Bossy finished his career with a record nine 50-goal seasons, but never again reached 50 in less than 60 games.

Dec. 31, 1981 -- Wayne Gretzky shattered the "50-in-50" mark held by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy when he scored five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers to reach the 50-goal mark in just 39 games. The last goal went into an empty net and sealed the Oilers' 7-5 win.

Feb. 24, 1982 -- The NHL's single-season record for goals fell as Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky scored No. 77, surpassing the record of 76 set by Boston's Phil Esposito in 1970-71. With Esposito in the audience at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, Gretzky went scoreless for the first 53:30 before beating Don Edwards. He quickly scored two more for a natural hat trick. Gretzky went on to finish with a record 92 goals, a mark that has not been seriously threatened since.

April 10, 1982 -- The Los Angeles Kings rallied for the greatest comeback in playoff history, the famed "Miracle on Manchester," as they overcame a 5-0 third-period deficit to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in overtime in Game 3 of their Smythe Division Semifinal series. Steve Bozak tied the game with five seconds left in regulation and Daryl Evans' goal 2:35 into overtime gave the Kings the win. The Kings went on to upset the first-place Oilers in the best-of-five series.

Feb. 8, 1983 -- In the greatest performance in All-Star Game history, Wayne Gretzky scored 4 goals in the third period to rally the Campbell Conference to a 9-3 victory against the Wales Conference at the Nassau Coliseum. Scoring has soared in the nearly three decades since that night, but Gretzky remains the only player in All-Star history to score four times in one period.

May 19, 1984 -- The Edmonton Oilers ended one dynasty and started another by beating the New York Islanders 5-2 to complete a five-game victory in the Stanley Cup Final. The Islanders came up one round short in their "Drive for Five," while the Oilers went on to win five Cups in a span of seven years.

April 18, 1987 -- The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals battled for more than six periods in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, a game that became known as the "Easter Epic" because it began Saturday night and stretched into the early hours of Easter Sunday. Kelly Hrudey stopped 73 shots before Pat LaFontaine beat Bob Mason at 68:47 of overtime. It's still the longest Game 7 in history.

Dec. 8, 1987 -- Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers became the first goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into an opponent's net. After the Boston Bruins dumped the puck into the Flyers' zone and pulled their goaltender, Hextall shot the puck the length of the ice and into the vacated net with 1:12 to play, capping a 5-2 win at the Spectrum.

Aug. 9, 1988 -- In the biggest trade in NHL history, the Edmonton Oilers sent Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles along with veterans Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley in a deal that sent center Jimmy Carson, a 20-year-old who had become the youngest player in NHL history to score 50 goals, forward Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million to the Oilers. Gretzky scored more than 900 points in eight seasons in L.A., got the Kings to their only Stanley Cup Final (1993) and sent the popularity of hockey in Southern California skyrocketing.

Dec. 31, 1988 -- Mario Lemieux became the only player to score a goal in every way possible during the same game. Lemieux scored 5 goals in Pittsburgh's 8-6 victory against New Jersey -- he had one at even strength, another on the power play, a third while the Penguins were shorthanded, another on a penalty shot and capped his performance with an empty-net goal.

March 30, 1989 -- The last vestiges of the Cold War between the NHL and the Soviet Union disappeared when Soviet forward Sergei Priakin took the ice as a member of the Calgary Flames.  Priakin was the first member of the Soviet national team allowed by government authorities to leave for the NHL. He played parts of four seasons but paved the way for some of the League's top stars.

Oct. 15, 1989 -- At age 28, Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings became the NHL's all-time scoring leader, passing Gordie Howe with point No. 1,851. He entered the game at his long-time home rink, Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, one point shy of Howe's mark of 1,850 points. He assisted on a first-period goal and broke the record by scoring the game-tying goal with 1:01 left in regulation -- triggering an eruption from the packed house. After a game-interrupting ceremony that included gifts and a speech from Howe, Gretzky added point No. 1,852 by scoring the winning goal in overtime.


May 21, 1991 -- Pittsburgh won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history by routing the Minnesota North Stars 8-0 in Game 6 of the Final -- the biggest margin of victory ever in a deciding game. Mario Lemieux had 12 points in the five-game Final (missing one with an injury) to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Sept. 23, 1992 -- Manon Rheaume made sports history by being the first woman to play in one of the four major sports leagues in the United States. She played goal for Tampa Bay in the first period of the Lightning's preseason game against the St. Louis Blues. Rheaume, whose brother Pascal later played in the NHL, stopped eight of 10 shots.

Dec. 11, 1992 -- The Board of Governors elected Gary Bettman as the League's first Commissioner (all previous NHL leaders had the title of President). Bettman took office Feb. 1, 1993, and will complete his 19th year in office just after the All-Star break. 

March 23, 1994 -- Wayne Gretzky passed Gordie Howe as the leading goal-scorer in NHL history by scoring No. 802 of his career against Vancouver in front of the home fans in Los Angeles. The sellout crowd of 16,005 at the Forum included his father, Walter, who was recovering from a near-fatal brain aneurysm.

May 25, 1994 -- Rangers captain Mark Messier guarantees that his team will beat New Jersey in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, a win the Rangers need to avoid elimination. Messier lives up to his word by getting a natural hat trick in the third period as the Rangers rally from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 at the Meadowlands. Two days later, New York won 2-1 in double overtime to earn its first trip to the Final since 1979.

June 14, 1994 -- The New York Rangers ended the longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history by edging the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 of the Final at Madison Square Garden. Rangers captain Mark Messier, a five-time Cup winner in Edmonton, scored the Cup-winning goal. New York defenseman Brian Leetch became the first U.S.-born winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

June 10, 1996 -- The Colorado Avalanche, playing their first season in Denver after moving from Quebec, won their first Stanley Cup by completing a four-game sweep with a 1-0 victory at Florida. Uwe Krupp scored the game's lone goal at 44:31 of overtime after Patrick Roy -- a midseason acquisition from Montreal -- stopped 63 shots.

April 29, 1997 -- Craig MacTavish, the last remaining player to appear in the NHL without a helmet, announced his retirement after 17 seasons. MacTavish began his career with Boston in 1979-80 and concluded it with St. Louis. In between, he played on three Stanley Cup champions with the Edmonton Oilers and a fourth with the Rangers in 1994.

June 7, 1997 -- Detroit's 42-year Stanley Cup drought came to an end when the Red Wings edged Philadelphia 2-1 to complete a four-game sweep. Darren McCarty's goal proved to be the winner as the Wings won their first championship since 1955.

March 7, 1998 -- Wayne Gretzky scored his 1,000th NHL goal (878 in the regular season, 122 in the playoffs) in the New York Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Devils in New Jersey. He finished the season with 1,007 goals (885 and 122). On March 29, 1999, Gretzky scored his 1,072nd professional goal -- WHA and NHL combined -- surpassing Gordie Howe, who had 1,071.

April 18, 1999: Wayne Gretzky played his final NHL game, earning his 1,963rd assist in the New York Rangers' 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Gretzky retired with the career and single-season marks in goals, assists and points among the 61 records he owned -- most of which still stand.


May 4, 2000 -- The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins played the longest game in 64 years, battling through 60 minutes of regulation and 92:01 of overtime before Keith Primeau scored to give the Flyers a 2-1 win in Game 5 of their second-round series.

December 27, 2000 -- Mario Lemieux came out of retirement to rejoin the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring a goal and 2 assists against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lemieux became the third player in NHL history, joining Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur, to play in a League game after being enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

June 13, 2002 -- The most successful coach in NHL history went out on top when Scotty Bowman led the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 victory against Carolina in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in his final game. It was Bowman's ninth Cup as a coach; he has won three more in front-office roles. His 1,244 regular-season wins and 223 playoff victories are NHL records.

Nov. 22, 2003 -- The NHL returned hockey to its outdoor roots when the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers met at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton for the first Heritage Classic. Following a game between alumni of the Oilers and Canadiens, the Habs outlasted the Oilers for a 4-3 victory in front of 57,167 fans.

Oct. 5, 2005 -- The NHL resumed play after the work stoppage with a League-record 15 games -- including the first use of the shootout to decide games that were tied at the end of the five-minute overtime session. The Ottawa Senators beat the Maple Leafs 3-2 in Toronto on opening night in the first game decided by the new tiebreaker. Opening night also marked the NHL debuts of two new stars -- Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
Sidney Crosby scores the deciding shootout goal of the first Winter Classic. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jan. 1, 2008 -- The first Winter Classic quickly became part of hockey's lore when the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1 in a shootout, before 71,217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. With snowflakes falling (as they had for much of the game), Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins the win by scoring the deciding goal in the shootout.

March 17, 2009 -- Martin Brodeur became the winningest regular-season goaltender in NHL history when he stopped 30 shots in New Jersey's 3-2 win against Chicago at the Prudential Center for career win No. 552. Brodeur broke the record of 551 set by Patrick Roy; he later broke Terry Sawchuk's career mark for shutouts as well.


June 9, 2010 -- The Chicago Blackhawks ended nearly a half-century of frustration by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime of Game 6 to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Patrick Kane's goal 4:06 into overtime gave the Hawks their first title in 49 years.

June 15, 2011 -- Boston became the first team to win three Game 7s in a single postseason on the way to the Cup by shutting out the Canucks 4-0 in the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final. Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas got the shutout as the Bruins won their first championship in 39 years. It was the fifth Final in the past eight to go seven games.
View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.