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• One NHL coach explains what this pause is like for him. “I can’t speak for every team, but I think most teams, their staff is being told, ‘If you feel you need to go to your house outside your city, then go ahead.'” (Sportsnet)
• If there’s a long delay in the season, hockey trainer Dan Ninkovich believes the NHL should pull the plug on the season. (Ottawa Citizen)
Hockey fans have been treated to quite a few one-team legends, including Mario Lemieux saving the Penguins more than once.
Even so, there are plenty of legends who ended spent time in jerseys that just felt wrong. Let’s ponder the hockey answers to Brady leaving the Patriots, Johnny Unitas on the Chargers, Michael Jordan with the Wizards, and Babe Ruth on the Boston Braves.
Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque leave Boston with very different results
At least with Brady, Boston-area fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more. Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s career concluded with questions of “What could have been?”
Knee injuries ravaged his later career, and after 10 seasons, Orr left the Bruins for the Blackhawks. Between two seasons, Orr could only appear in 26 games for Chicago.
If Orr on the Blackhawks isn’t the Brady comparison you think of for hockey, then it’s probably Brodeur appearing in seven games for the Blues after winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas, and setting the all-time wins record over 1,259 games with the Devils.
(That contrast still makes me chuckle, to be honest.)
As awkward as Brodeur’s brief Blues stint was, it lacked the angst of how Orr’s career ended. That might make it closer to a 1:1 hockey comparison for Brady, although the QB could easily prove that his tank isn’t empty.
Much of this list shows examples of players trying to prove that they could still play, with most sputtering out after running on fumes.
Hull of a change, and Howe
Bobby Hull already experienced quite a journey going from the Blackhawks to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets (scoring 303 goals in the WHA alone). Hull’s final hockey and NHL season was especially odd, though, starting with 18 NHL games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for The Whale. Gordie Howe ended up being a Whalers teammate of Hull, which is … yeah, pretty mind-blowing. Bobby Hull also attempted a comeback with the Rangers.
(Howe’s legendary career featured quite the second [and maybe third?] acts after his Red Wings days, including playing with his sons, and somehow managing 15 goals and 41 points with the Hartford Whalers at age 51.)
Bobby’s son Brett Hull experienced a journeyman career of his own. Brett convinced the Coyotes to unretire Bobby’s number 9, but that story ended with a whimper (five games) as Brett realized he couldn’t adjust to the post-lockout style of play in 2005-06.
Random Red Wings
If you’re playing trivia and “This player finished his career/briefly played for this team …” comes up, blurting out Detroit Red Wings isn’t the worst bet.
Mats Sundin stunned Maple Leafs fans by joining the Canucks. There was some Alfredsson-like logic of linking Sundin with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin, yet the experiment lasted just 41 games.
Brian Leetch playing for the Maple Leafs was a little strange, but Leetch in a Bruins sweater will never look right.
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens legend, as a Quebec Nordique? Yes, that happened. Jacques Plante bounced around quite about post-Habs, too, including eight games with the (gasp) Bruins.
Like Plante, Grant Fuhr pinballed around the NHL quite a bit after parting ways with the Oilers, but joining the Flames? Wow. Fuhr didn’t just play for the Calgary Flames, either, as he suited up twice for the Saint John Flames.
File Ed Belfour and Igor Larionov under “people you might not have known played for the Panthers.”
Olaf Kolzig was persistent in Washington as Godzilla could be in Tokyo, playing 711 of his 719 games for the Capitals. The eight other games came with the Lightning. (Vincent Lecavalier playing for the Kings was strange, but softened by his years with the Flyers.)
Feel free to mention other fish-out-of-water memories in the comments. Also, if you had to guess, which hockey legend will Brady mirror the most?
Throughout the season we will be taking an occasional look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back to February 9, 1988, the most recent time the St. Louis Blues played host to the NHL All-Star Game.
With the St. Louis Blues playing host to the NHL All-Star Game for the third time in franchise history this weekend, we wanted to take a quick look back to the most recent time they hosted it during the 1987-88 season.
It ended up being a 6-5 overtime win for the Wales Conference, a game that was highlighted by six points — including a hat trick and the game-winning goal — for Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux.
Let’s dig into it.
The format and the uniforms
The 1987-88 season marked the return of the traditional NHL All-Star game after the league took a break during the 1986-87 season for Rendez-Vous ’87, a two-game series in Quebec that saw the NHL All-Stars play against the Soviet Union team (they split the series with the Soviets winning 8-7 on aggregate).
For 1988, it was back to the Wales Conference vs. the Campbell Conference, as it had been for the previous 11 All-Star Games.
This was also two years before the NHL’s very first All-Star skills competition, which would not be introduced until the 1990 game in Pittsburgh.
So let’s talk about the uniforms because — well — these left something to be desired. The NHL made a minor change to them by replacing the “Wales” and “Campbell” diagonal script across the front with the NHL logo. To call them bland would be an understatement. Here we see Dave Poulin, Ron Hextall, and Kjell Samuelsson modeling them before the game, sharing the exact amount of excitement these uniforms deserve.
Look at Hextall’s pads!
The beginning of the end of the Oilers’ dynasty
The Edmonton Oilers were on their way to their fourth Stanley Cup in five years and understandably had the largest presence at the game.
Glen Sather served as coach, while the Oilers had a league-high six players in the game: Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, and Grant Fuhr.
Gretzky, Kurri, Lowe, and Fuhr were starters.
But while the Oilers were still at the top of the NHL, their dynasty was starting to develop some cracks.
Defenseman Paul Coffey had been traded to Pittsburgh just a few months earlier (he started for the Wales Conference), while Gretzky would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the end of this season. The Oilers would still win another Stanley Cup in 1990 and play in a couple of of Campbell Conference Finals, but this season was one of the last times they were truly at the height of their power as an NHL dynasty.
Twenty-three future Hall of Famers on the ice
Every All-Star is a collection of amazing talent, and this one had a ton of the game’s all-time giants, including 23 future Hall of Famers.
Al MacInnis, Jari Kurri, Luc Robitaille, Grant Fuhr, Wayne Gretzky, Glenn Anderson, Dale Hawerchuk, Mark Messier, Denis Savard, Steve Yzerman, Joe Nieuwendyk, Paul Coffey, Mario Lemieux, Denis Potvin, Michael Goulet, Ray Bourque, Mark Howe, Cam Neely, Mike Gartner, Pat LaFontaine, Larry Robinson, Peter Stastny, and Patrick Roy.
Mario Lemieux truly begins to breakout, dominates game
This was Lemieux’s fourth season in the NHL and it was already clear that there was something special about him.
He had already won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, won the Lester B. Pearson award in 1986, had played in two other All-Star Games, and had two top-four finishes in Hart Trophy voting. He was great. But at this point his team still stunk (trading for Coffey helped turn that around) and he was still mostly playing in Gretzky’s shadow.
But the 1987-88 season was when that all started to change.
Lemieux would go on to lead the league in goals and total points for the first time in his career, while also winning his first MVP award even though the Penguins missed the playoffs (no player on a non-playoff team has won it since).
He also completely took of the All-Star game with what was then a record-setting six points (factoring into every goal his team scored!), including a hat trick and the game-winning goal in overtime.
For more stories from the PHT Time Machine, click here.
Chicago blowing out Toronto will lead to some hand-wringing, no doubt. Yet, as much as that was on a tough night for Frederik Andersen, give the Blackhawks some credit. Toews topped all in that game with an outstanding four-point performance (two goals and two assists).
Saturday continued what’s been one heck of a month for Toews. The Blackhawks captained pushed his January total to 15 points (5G, 10A). Toews reached that total in just eight games, scoring at least one point in seven contests.
Sheahan scoffs at Toews’ slow start. The journeyman forward failed to score a point in 12 October games, and managed one in 11 November contests. Sheahan went and matched his December points total (four in 14 GP) in one contest on Saturday.
That’s right, he generated four points, scoring an empty-netter plus three assists. Connor McDavid dominated in his own right with two goals, but Sheahan helped the Oilers rout the Coyotes. Josh Archibald generated three points (1G, 2A) as well.
This just in: the Oilers have a lot of “that guy’s still around?” forwards. It’s honestly cool to see some of them have such a strong day, and maybe take a bit of the pressure off McDavid here and there.
It’s as though Atkinson never missed any time. After scoring a goal and an assist in his first game in almost one month on Thursday, Atkinson generated three points (2G, 1A) on Saturday. This gives Atkinson seven points (4G, 3A) in his past four contests.
Others give Atkinson a run for his money, even beyond the next section. Jason Zucker (1G, 2A) and James van Riemsdyk (1G, 2A) both contributed to their respective teams’ blowouts. Atkinson’s extra goal gives him the edge.
OK, now let’s consider Elvis and Ovechkin
Saturday featured enough strong performances that it feels better to give these two a mention. After all, they already received their own posts. Yes, these two probably rank as the “real” third and fourth stars of Saturday, or higher, depending upon your personal taste.
Marc-Andre Fleury is suffering through a tough season, big-picture wise. “The Flower” keeps adding to his resume of breathtaking saves, though:
Jamie Benn provides us with a reason to laugh. At least those of us who aren’t immediately transported to our own memories of hilarious blunders.
That video summarizes the Stars’ night succinctly, as the Wild beat them 7-0.
Ovechkin nabbed consecutive hat tricks to push his career goals total to 692. He passed Mario Lemieux (11th all-time, 690) and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time (692). Mark Messier sits just two goals away at eighth with 694. Ovechkin also generated consecutive hat tricks for the third time in his career. In doing so, Ovechkin joined Joe Malone (four times) and Wayne Gretzky (three) as the only players to generate consecutive hat tricks three or more times, according to NHL PR. Again, this post delves deeper into Ovechkin’s latest accomplishments.
Ovechkin’s teammate John Carlson reached 60 points. Carlson managed the feat in just 49 games, getting to 60 faster than any Capitals defenseman; Mike Green held the previous mark with 60 by game 57. Opinion: Green deserved better treatment from hockey folks during his peak years.
Merzlikins authored the 18th instance of a rookie goalie getting a shutout of at least 41 saves, via NHL PR.
An historic week for Alex Ovechkin was capped off with a hat trick Saturday afternoon during a 6-4 win over the Islanders. His three goals pushes him past Mario Lemieux and into ninth place with 692, tying him with Steve Yzerman.
Ovechkin opened the scoring and then passed Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in the third period as the Capitals mounted their comeback. He ended his day with an empty-netter to seal the win and tie Yzerman. The Islanders led 4-1 entering the third period.
Powered by two consecutive hat tricks, Ovechkin has eight goals in his last three games and 10 in his previous six.
With three goals Saturday — the third time he’s recorded hat tricks in consecutive games — Ovechkin now has 34 on the season as he eyes a ninth 50-goal season. His hat trick was the 26th of his NHL career, tying him with Maurice Richard for eighth all-time.
Next in Ovechkin’s sights? Mark Messier, who finished with 694 goals in his career.