Skip to main content
This Date in NHL History

March 31: Howe born in Floral, Saskatchewan

Plus: Messier scores in final NHL game; Golden Knights clinch division in inaugural season

by John Kreiser @JKreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

THIS DATE IN HISTORY: March 31

1928: Gordie Howe is born in Floral, Saskatchewan.

Howe scores the first of his 801 NHL goals as an 18-year-old with the Detroit Red Wings and goes on to play in 1,767 NHL games during 25 seasons with the Red Wings and one with the Hartford Whalers.

He wins the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy six times apiece, plays on four Stanley Cup-winning teams, and sets numerous NHL records.

Howe is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, but returns to the ice in 1973 to play with his sons Mark and Marty in the World Hockey Association. All three Howes come to the NHL in 1979 when the Whalers are one of four teams admitted from the WHA; he finishes with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) and plays all 80 games before retiring for good.

If anything, Howe becomes an even more beloved figure in the years after his retirement, earning the nickname "Mr. Hockey" from generations of fans who never saw him play, before he dies at age 88 on June 10, 2016.

 

MORE MOMENTS

1923: King Clancy of the Ottawa Senators plays all six positions, including goalie for two minutes after Clint Benedict is assessed a penalty, in a 1-0 victory against Edmonton in Game 2 of the Final in Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup. Clancy, then 18, goes on to referee in the NHL and later enjoys a long career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, serving as coach and then as an executive in various capacities.

 

1927: Howie Morenz scores at 12:05 of overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 1-0 win against the Montreal Maroons in the first all-NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs game to be decided in OT. Rookie George Hainsworth gets his first playoff shutout.

 

1942: The Maple Leafs become the first team in NHL history to win 50 playoff games when they defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 in Game 6 of the Semifinals at Maple Leaf Gardens. Nick Metz scores the winning goal with five seconds remaining in the third period.

 

1951: The Boston Bruins and Maple Leafs play the last playoff game to end in a tie. They're even at 1-1 after one overtime in Game 2 of the Semifinals at Maple Leaf Gardens when Ontario's Sunday curfew law would have made it illegal to begin another period after midnight.

 

1973: Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr has his third NHL hat trick, giving him 100 points for the fourth straight season. The milestone comes in Boston's 7-3 loss to Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Video: Bobby Orr revolutionized defensive position

On the same night, the Philadelphia Flyers tie the NHL record for most goals in a period when they score eight times in the second period against the New York Islanders at the Spectrum. The Flyers win 10-2.

 

1984: Mike Bossy of the Islanders becomes the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in seven consecutive seasons. Bossy gets his 50th and 51st goal in New York's 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Capital Centre. He breaks the mark of six straight 50-goal seasons he's shared with Guy Lafleur.

 

1989: Sergei Priakin becomes the first player permitted by the Soviet Hockey Federation to play in the NH when he makes his debut for the Calgary Flames in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Olympic Saddledome. Priakin, a forward, wears No. 16; he has no points and is plus-1. Joe Mullen becomes the fourth player in Calgary/Atlanta Flames history to have 50 goals in a season when he scores early in the third period.

 

1990: Joe Sakic of the Quebec Nordiques becomes the first player in NHL history to get 100 points in a season while playing on a last-place team when he scores a goal in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Hartford Whalers. Sakic finishes the season with 102 points; the Nordiques go 12-61-7 and end up with 31 points, by far the fewest in the NHL.

 

1994: Jeremy Roenick scores two goals to become the first player in Chicago Blackhawks history to get 100 points in three consecutive seasons. The milestone comes in a 6-3 loss to the Capitals at Chicago Stadium.

 

2004: Mark Messier says goodbye to the NHL by scoring a goal in his final game, the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Ten years after Messier delivers the Stanley Cup to the Rangers in 1994 to end their 54-year drought, he scores his final NHL goal with 57 seconds left in the first period. It is the 1,887th point of his NHL career, now third in League history (his 694 goals are eighth). Though Messier doesn't officially announce his retirement until Sept. 12, he certainly acts as if he knows he's calling it a career. He skates around the Garden ice after the game, waving to the sellout crowd and shedding more than a few tears. Messier doesn't play in New York's season finale on April 4 at Washington.

Video: Mark Messier plays in final game of his NHL career

 

2015: Alex Ovechkin becomes a six-time 50-goal scorer when he beats Cam Ward at 11:02 of the first period in the Washington Capitals' 4-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. He is the sixth player in NHL history to reach the 50-goal mark at least six times, joining Bossy and Wayne Gretzky (nine times each), as well as Lafleur, Mario Lemieux and Marcel Dionne (six times each).

 

2018: The Vegas Golden Knights become the first modern era expansion team in any of the four major North American team sports to start from scratch and finish first in its division when they defeat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena to clinch the Pacific Division title. A spectacular between-the-legs goal by William Karlsson breaks a 2-2 tie in the third period and gives the Golden Knights their 50th win, extending their record for first-year NHL teams.

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.