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Bob Sturm Blog: Fabian's Hat Trick

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars

Bob Sturm
Fabian Brunnstrom scores a hat trick in his NHL debut. That was very impressive, to state the obvious, and the nature of his goals suggest that he will have many more where that came from.

He is surely an interesting kid, and I cannot tell you how I would have steam coming out of my ears this morning if I had heard that he had scored a hat trick in his debut with Detroit. Detroit was in the bidding for Brunnstrom until the last minute this past May, and I remember fully expecting that he was going there. With all due respect to the Stars, this is not near the Swedish haven that Detroit or Vancouver could be for young Fabian.

But, the Stars made the deal with the young man and now have only the 3rd player in NHL history to accomplish the feat of scoring 3 in his first game.

I cannot find any boxscores from 1943 to examine Alex Smart’s accomplishment when he was playing the first of his 8 games in the National Hockey League.

Alex, after his 8 game career, played 6 seasons in something called the Quebec Senior Hockey League which appears to have been a semi-professional league back in the 1940s and 1950s.

The other player to score a hat trick in his first NHL game is Real Cloutier a player that accomplished his 3 goal “first game” in 1979. Of course, that is the year of the NHL-WHA merger, so any player involved in the merger played their NHL debut that fall – regardless of how many times he had played in the WHA. Cloutier was already playing in the WHA for five years and had seasons of 26, 60, 66, 56, and 75 goals under his belt already. Cloutier also went on to score almost 150 NHL goals, mostly with the Quebec Nordiques. I am not saying what he did is less impressive than Brunnstrom’s hat trick, but it certainly should be put in a different category.

What made Brunnstrom’s accomplishment last night all the more impressive was the nature of his 3rd goal, which was a game-winner off a nice feed from Brad Richards. Brunnstrom had to put the puck in a very small hole up high behind Dan Ellis, all while weaving around a defender. It was a goal that the Stars badly needed, and he can always recall this hat trick as a huge game-winning accomplishment.

Much like Richards’ 5-point Dallas debut, this will now raise expectations through the roof, and we should recall that in 54 games in the Swedish Elite League last season Brunnstrom scored just 9 goals. But the hands he demonstrated last night would seem to indicate it will be difficult to scratch the young Swede for weeks to come.

And yes, I had to ask him if the “Hat Trick” was recognized in Sweden. He indicated that in fact the beauty of throwing your hats on the ice is a practice celebrated all over the hockey world. Thank Goodness. Otherwise, imagine the confusion of being in a foreign land and having everyone throw their headwear at you after you win the game.

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