One of the most iconic teams in National Hockey League history was about to move before a legendary name stepped up and took control. This date was packed with great moments from some of the best members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a few players who will be joining them soon. Let’s take our daily journey back in time to relive the best memories February 15th has given us over the decades.
Early NHL Memories
Punch Broadbent extended his goal series to a record 16 games, on February 15, 1922, in the Ottawa Senators 6-6 draw with the Montreal Canadiens. His two goals earned him 28 times in the season in 18 games.
Can you imagine the NHL without the Toronto Maple Leafs? Well, they hardly ever got there. The struggling Toronto St. Patricks had almost moved to Philadelphia before Conn Smythe bought the team on this date in 1927. He quickly changed the name to the Maple Leafs, swapping the Kelly green for the familiar blue and white we still have today. see.
Smythe was the largest owner of the team from this date until 1961. He also led the construction of Maple Leafs Gardens, which opened in 1931. His name appeared on the Stanley Cup eight times during his time in Toronto. Today, the most valuable player of the postseason receives the Conn Smythe trophy every spring.
On February 15, 1945, the New York Rangers train from Detroit made them more than two hours late for their game at the Chicago Blackhawks. The opening faceoff was postponed to 10:50 PM, but despite the long journey, the Rangers defeated the Blackhawks 6-2 in a clear game.
Milestones in Montreal
Maurice Richard scored a natural hat-trick, his 10th career hat-trick, and added an assist, on February 15, 1974, when the Canadiens and Maple Leafs skated to a 4-4 draw.
Jean Bellev received two assists, good for 400 career points, on February 15, 1959 in a 5-1 win with the Rangers. He achieved this feat in 362 regular season games. Jacques Plante became the NHL’s second goalkeeper to win 30 wins in five different seasons.
Guy Lapointe became the first defender in Canadian history to score 20 goals in a season, on February 15, 1975, in a 12-3 win over the visiting Blackhawks. However, his milestone was overshadowed by winger Yvan Cournoyer, who scored five goals and added two assists.
Three years later, on February 15, 1978, Montreal won 6-2 in the St. Louis Blues to expand their unbeaten streak to 24 games (19-0-5). This broke the previous NHL record shared by the Boston Bruins 1940-41 and the Philadelphia Flyers 1975-76. Guy Lafleur led the attack with two goals and a few assists.
Motown legends are in the spotlight
Gordie Howe scored twice, on February 15, 1953, to lead the visiting Detroit Reds to a 4-1 victory in Chicago. At the age of 24, he became the youngest player in NHL history to score 200 career goals.
Terry Sawchuk became the first goaltender in NHL history to win at least 30 games in five consecutive seasons on February 15, 1955, when the Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 at Olympia.
Alex Delvecchio became the third player in franchise history to score 250 goals on February 15, 1964, and also assisted the Red Wings 4-1 on the road with the Canadiens.
Brendan Shanahan scored to give him at least 20 goals in the Red Wings 6-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers for the 15th consecutive season, on February 15, 2003.
Wayne Gretzky puts them on
The Great One was in the mood on this date. First, on February 15, 1980, he had leveled the NHL single-game record by collecting seven assists in the Edmonton Oilers 8-2 win over the Washington Capitals. It was the first of three games with seven assist that he had in his career.
On February 15, 1999, Gretzky played in his only game in Nashville and made it an unforgettable evening. He finished his game with five assists in the Rangers 7-4 victory on the road against the Predators. His five helpers gave him a lead of exactly 1,000 points over Howe, who scored second of all time.
Martin Brodeurs Big Day
Martin Brodeur stopped 25 shots on February 15, 1997, when he led the New Jersey Devils to a 4-1 win in his hometown of Montreal. This was the 107th victory of his career, surpassing Chris Terreri most in franchise history. It also extended his personal unbeaten streak to 11 games (8-0-3).
Exactly three years later, on this date in 2000, Brodeur became the first goalkeeper in league history to score a winning goal. He was the last Devils player to touch the puck before the Flyers accidentally dropped it into their own net. This gave them a 3-1 lead and became the game-winner after Mark Recchi scored later in the third period.
This came exactly 23 years after Rogie Vachon thought he would become the first goalkeeper in league history to score a goal. He was originally credited for a goal in the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 win over the New York Islanders, but was later correctly changed to Vic Venasky.
Hall of Fame moments
Bobby Orr had four assists in the opening frame, on February 15, 1972, to match an NHL record for the most assists in a single bout by Montreals Buddy OConner in 1942. He led the way in the Bruins 6-2 win over Oakland Seals.
Two years later, Orrs teammate Phil Esposito became the 10th player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points, assisting Bruins in a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Mario Lemieux had two goals and two assists, on February 15, 1986, in the Pittsburgh Penguins 9-4 win over the Canucks. This earned him both 200 points in his career and 100 points in the season, making him the first player in team history to have back-to-back seasons of 100 points.
A year later, on February 15, 1987, Michel Goulet had scored two goals for him 350 in his career, as the Quebec Nordiques lost 6-4 to the Blackhawks.
Brett Hull scored his fifth hat-trick of his career on February 15, 1990, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 9-2 win over the visiting Nordiques. The three goals earned him 55 for the season, the most ever in the team’s history, breaking Wayne Babych’s old record of 54 in 1980-81.
Luc Robitaille scored two goals in the third period to give him 900 career points, giving the Rangers a point in a 2-2 draw with the Canadiens. The win improved New York’s home unbeaten streak to 24 games to tie the team record.
Future Hall of Fame Moments
We’re going from some great performances from players already in the Hockey Hall of Fame to two that will be in the very near future.
Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 45thth anniversary in style, on February 15, 2017, by becoming just the second player in league history to score 1,900 career points. His huge milestone came with an assist on goal from Aleksander Barkovs during the Florida Panthers 6-5 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks.
The following year, on February 15, 2018, Alex Ovechkin scored his best 34th goal of the season and added three assists as the Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2. His big night made him the 61st player in NHL history to accumulate 1,100 career points.
Odds & Ends
The newly formed Islanders hired Bill Torrey as their first general manager on February 15, 1972, eight months before the team played its first NHL game. The Hall of Fame Builder continued to work throughout the 1991-92 season. He was the architect of the ’80s Islanders Dynasty who won four consecutive Stanly Cups, drafting players like Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clarke Gillies and Mike Bossy, while acting for other important pieces including Billy Smith and Butch Goring.
Boston’s Bep Guidolin became the first rookie coach in NHL history to win each of his first five games on February 15, 1973, when the Bruins scored a 3-1 victory on the road with the Flyers.
Linesman Ron Finn set a league record on February 15, 1992, when he worked his 1,754th NHL game. He broke Neil Armstrong’s previous record in the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 win in Toronto.
Ed Olczyk scored the 250th goal of his NHL career, on February 15, 1993, and had an assist Rangers beat the visiting Blues 4-1.
A year later, Tom Barrasso became the most winning US-born goalkeeper when he earned his 253rd win by leading the Penguins to a 5-3 victory over the Jets. He broke the record held by Frank Brinseks, who won 252 games with the Bruins and Blackhawks between 1938 and 1950.
Jeff Friesen had two assists in the Sharks 4-1 win over the Islanders, on February 15, 2000, to become the first player in franchise history to score 300 points.
On February 15, 2017, the Predators took over Peter Forsberg from the Flyers for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and a first and third round. The first round was eventually traded back to Nashville, and the third-rounder was part of a deal with the Capitals. Forsberg played just 17 games for the Predators, scoring two goals and 15 points.
I wish you a happy birthday
In addition to Jagr who turns 49 today, there are 31 other players who have skated in the NHL on this date. The most successful people are Brent Peterson (63), Tony McKegney (63), Brian Propp (62), Craig Simpson (54), Tim Cheveldae (53), Adam Mair (42) and Dennis Cholowski (23).
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