My Favorite Goal

My Favorite Goal: Borschevsky’s goal sealed with a kiss

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Gus Katsaros of Rotoworld remembers Nikolai Borschevsky being the Game 7 hero for the 1993 Maple Leafs.

I didn’t see my favorite ever goal live. Easily my favorite, as you will understand, but I missed it. This is the story.

The date was May 1, 1993 with the word ‘date’ having a special double meaning. Two of my biggest disappointments were addressed that day. My sad dating life was extinguished, budding into what would become a valued relationship, moving on from the awkward teen years and what Aerosmith referred to in “Walk This Way” as “I was a high school loser …” Making a shy foray into manhood, that alone was a glorious victory!

But it wasn’t as big as the victory to come that night, courtesy of an overtime marker from a Bob Rouse shot, deflected by Nik Borschevsky to send the Toronto Maple Leafs into the second round of the 1993 playoffs, defeating the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings. Dougie! Wendel! Nik! Bob Rouse, Felix, Ellett etc. … what a ride. 

My favorite ever goal.

Earlier that day, I had my first date with a woman that would become my sweetheart relationship during my 20’s. She suggested we spend the day together as our first official date. Testing my commitment, she intentionally picked a movie on that specific day, knowing the importance of the game, but scheduling it so that it would end more or less by the time Game 7 began. We watched The Dark Half, a Stephen King thriller that was a better novel than motion picture.

She tested my resolve and she won. I capitulated, giving in to love, while sacrificing my biggest love to that day, the Maple Leafs.

The movie ended about halfway through the second period earning my reward for being accommodating for her. With the timing of the movie ending, she agreed to watch the rest of the game with me. We ended up at my house where a group of my friends and brothers watched as the Leafs went down 3-2 entering the third period. The gathering watched in the basement, while my new love and I went to the family room to watch it alone together. To share our budding love with ‘the Buds.’

We would finally share my favorite thing in the world, hockey, and the Maple Leafs.

She jumped out of her skin and may have taken a few steps back at the celebratory explosion when Doug Gilmour tied it up late in the third period. My crazed reaction that day would be seen many times over that spring – and even beyond. She had her chance to leave at that point … but she stayed. She saw the ‘passion that unites us all’ up close and personal.

She could bottle the tension and worry as the third period wound down and was entering overtime. She excused herself to freshen up during the intermission, while I flipped through channels between periods. When she returned, she had put on my Maple Leafs jersey! The number was 22, honouring Rick Vaive, with a ‘Katsaros’ on the back.

Borschevsky had not played in the series since a Game 1 incident forced him out of the lineup. It was a big blow to the Leafs who missed his skilled hands. He returned in Game 7, with this hero wearing a visor.

But, you see, I missed it.

After she returned, we shared our first kiss, her with my jersey on. And we lost track of time. And I had forgotten to change the channel back to the hockey game after seeing her in my jersey.

We lost ourselves in the first kiss to solidify our new relationship, ending a beautiful day. Game 7 going to overtime, for the underdog Leafs taking on the powerhouse Red Wings was a sweet bonus, more for me than her. We lost track of time …

Then the basement exploded with jubilant cheers! There was a news anchor on my television set babbling about something and instead of changing the channel, I left her alone, running quickly downstairs to watch the replay and celebrate with the rest of the gathered group of friends. She stayed in family room to let me have my moment.

A moment I will always cherish, even if I didn’t get to see it live.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
Darren McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Alex Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Marek Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada
• Mario Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again
Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs

My Favorite Goal: Hornqvist clinches Stanley Cup vs. old team

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Patric Hornqvist of the Penguins remembers his Stanley Cup-winning goal during the 2017 Final against his old team.

A win was all the Penguins needed to become back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. Up 3-2 in their series with the Predators, Game 6 saw no goals scored through the first 58 minutes of the game. With 95 seconds left Patric Hornqvist, who was selected by Nashville with the very last pick (No. 230) of the 2005 NHL Draft, put home a rebound to break the 0-0 tie.

Fellow Swede Carl Hagelin would score an empty-net goal to seal the victory and the title for the Penguins and as the clock counted down emotions took over Hornqvist as he waited on the bench.

“That’s what you dream about when you go to bed, or what you think about when you go to bed,” Hornqvist said. “You’re wishing to score one of those goals that end up being the game-winner. That’s the one.”

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
Darren McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Alex Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Marek Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada
• Mario Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again
Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs
Chabot, Nylander remember Matthews’ four-goal night

My Favorite Goal: Chabot, Nylander remember Matthews’ four-goal night

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot and William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs remember Auston Matthews‘ memorable four-goal NHL debut from 2016.

Four months after he was selected as the No. 1 overall pick, Auston Matthews made a pretty good first impression on the NHL. During his debut with the Maple Leafs, the forward scored four times against the Senators becoming the first player in league history to score four goals in his first game.

On the ice that night was Nylander, who was beginning his second season in the NHL. Watching from the press box as a healthy scratch was Chabot, who was drafted by the Senators in 2015.

The two players sat down with NBC Sports to remember an unforgettable night in NHL history.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
Darren McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Alex Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Marek Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada
• Mario Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again
Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs

My Favorite Goal: Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, RotoWorld’s Ryan Dadoun remembers Tomas Hertl‘s four-goal night against the Rangers, which he capped off with a between-the-legs beauty.

When I’m watching a sporting event, any sporting event, I want to see creativity and emotion. As someone in his mid-30s who has spent his whole life in Toronto, one of the most memorable sporting moments I have is Jose Bautista’s bat flip. It perfectly embodied the jubilation and release of frustration that the city was feeling at that time. It also drew ire from some who viewed it as disrespectful. That argument has always rubbed me the wrong way, which leads me to my favorite goal, Tomas Hertl’s fourth against the New York Rangers on Oct. 8th, 2013.

It was a between-the-legs, top shelf goal on Martin Biron and while Hertl didn’t do anything as dramatic as flip his stick after the goal, he was clearly thrilled and the goal itself, some would argue, was needlessly fancy. Plus, Hertl’s San Jose Sharks had a 7-2 lead in the third period even before that goal. If there were people who took issue with Bautista showing that level of emotion after nailing a critical home run in a playoff game, you can imagine that there were people who took issue with Hertl’s actions for a needless goal in an early October contest.

Hall of Famer Adam Oates, who was the head coach of the Washington Capitals at that time, was one of the most famous ones to object to Hertl’s goal.

“I’m upset. I was just talking to George [McPhee] and he said all the kids do that nowadays, which I understand. But would he have done it on his first goal?” Oates said in 2013 via the Washington Post. “He hasn’t scored yet tonight and he gets a breakaway, is he going to do that on his breakaway? We’ll see.

“I think it was a little bit of a mood thing, which I’m sure they talked about, because they didn’t play him after that. I’m glad the coach did that because this league, it will bite you if you’re not sharp. Don’t disrespect the league. I’m sure it was a rookie mistake.”

Don Cherry was the other huge voice against Hertl’s celebration.

“There’s been a lot said about a lot of things, but let me say something: If the score [had] been 1-1, I would have said ‘Hey, what a goal!’ But I want you people out there to think about this: I want you think if Martin Biron was your son or your brother in an 8-2 [game], and everybody’s laughing at him,” Cherry said of Hertl, per Yahoo Sports.

He added, “I’m going to say something about the kid. He didn’t think he did anything wrong. He played in the Czech Republic last year. This is what they do. You can see him laughing at it. He didn’t understand. And kids, you don’t do that.”

With Cherry’s far more recent comments in the back of our minds, let’s awkwardly side step his assertion that Hertl didn’t know any better because he had been playing in the Czech Republic and instead look at the other argument: What if Biron was your brother? The Sharks had already won that game, so what purpose did Hertl’s goal serve other than to humiliate your theoretical brother?

Well, first off, your brother is a professional player getting well compensated to compete, not just for the sake of competing, but for the entertainment of others. The entire economy of the sport that allows these players to make the big bucks is based around the idea that they’re fun to watch. That people are willing to pay good money to watch them play. So entertainment value has meaning in and of itself and while you’re naturally rooting for your brother’s success every time he’s involved in a play, you have to be prepared to take some bad with the good, given how much the good outweighs the bad in this situation.

Obviously these are human beings we’re talking about, not just vehicles for entertainment. They deserve to be treated with respect. That’s why things like prioritizing player safety and weeding out abusive coaches is so important. The emotions of the moment can only excuse so much. Even so, there is still room for players to express joy and creativity even at the risk of some other players having their feelings hurt in the moment. 

Secondly, the goal wasn’t completely meaningless. While it didn’t impact the outcome of the game, it does have historical and more immediate context that’s fun to get into. It was a four-goal game scored in just Hertl’s third career contest. It came immediately after he scored two goals on Oct. 5th, giving him at the time six goals in three career games. It was fun to think about what the future might hold for him and the fact that he scored on a fancy move highlighted an extra level of skill that made him all the more worth tuning in to going forward, again tying back into the entertainment value that’s leading to the big bucks being made.

The move itself also makes the moment memorable. It turned what would have been a relatively meaningless blowout win in early October into a game we remember. It was something a little different, something a little fresh. Maybe that’s because older players have learned to show more restraint, but maybe rather than that being a knock on Hertl’s youth, it’s a knock on the conformity in the league. The idea that you shouldn’t give your all to score because you already have a big lead or the idea that you shouldn’t be celebratory when you score your fourth goal because it didn’t meaningfully impact the score itself just feels a little lifeless to me. You’re losing a little something special in the process.

Four goals is special. It’s worth trying for, for its own sake. Fancy goals are interesting and could throw off goaltenders. It’s worth attempting them from time-to-time. And I’d argue that celebrations are worth having when something big, like scoring fourth goal in a single game at the age of 19, happens. Rather than demean players, it humanizes the sport and shows that these are real people with real feelings playing the game, even if in the process some feelings might unfortunately get a little hurt. Though to that point, hurt feelings can also lead to fierce rivalries, which help make sports as worth watching as they are.

It’s worth adding that while there were some big names who were against Hertl’s celebration, he did have one big defense. Joe Thornton made a NSFW comment that arguably ended up being more famous than the goal itself. Those comments also ended up sparking another separate controversy about when a reporter should regard what’s being said in a locker room as off the record.

Another person whose take is interesting is the person on the receiving end of the goal, Biron. He enjoyed a 508-game NHL career and Hertl’s goal was scored in his 507th contest. Rather than be upset with the goal specifically, Biron was more upset with his play and the situation he was in with the Rangers at the twilight of his career.

“Our bench were going to gun for him, obviously, because it’s 8-2, he scored four goals, and he’s celebrating like he just won the Stanley Cup,” Biron told The Athletic in 2018. “I didn’t really realize (Hertl) celebrating too much, but I know that our players after the game said some of the veterans like Couture and Joe (Thornton) got up over the bench and said don’t worry, we’ll talk to him. … The (Sharks) veterans were like, we know he overdid it.

“But the kid was young, his family was in the stands, it’s exciting. I get that. There’s a bit of old school/new school (debate) that goes into that. So I wasn’t mad because of the goal itself. It was more the situation. It was kind of the beginning of the end. I played in St. Louis a few days later and it didn’t go well, and I was like, it’s time to move on.”

As for Hertl, that four-goal game offered a window into his potential. In the years that followed, there would be growing pains, until he really began to click late in 2017-18 and then broke out in 2018-19 with 35 goals and 74 points in 77 games. He’s carried that success into this season as well and is now one of the cornerstones of the Sharks’ offense. He even added two more hat tricks back in January, but for me that fourth goal back in 2013 remains the most memorable moment of his career, both for what it was and for the discuss it sparked.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada
Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again

For everything fantasy hockey, check out Rotoworld’s Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @RyanDadoun on Twitter.

My Favorite Goal: Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, we have two selections from our NHL on NBC analysts. First, Patrick Sharp’s choice is one of the NHL’s most famous goals.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins holding a 2-1 lead in the second period of Game 2 of the 1991 Stanley Cup Final, Mario Lemieux took a pass from Phil Bourque and proceeded to make mince meat out of the Minnesota North Stars. Shawn Chambers, Neil Wilkinson and Jon Casey had no chance at defending “Le Manifique.”

The Penguins would go on the win the game 4-1 and the series in six games to take home their first Stanley Cup title.

Our second choice is from Keith Jones, who picked a goal that made NHL playoff history.

A year and a half after Ron Hextall became the first goaltender to actually shoot and score a goal, he became the first to do it in the playoffs against the Washington Capitals. The Philadelphia Flyers netminder had always wanted to score in a game and was going to take advantage of every opportunity that was presented.

While Billy Smith was the first goalie to be credited with a goal, no NHL netminder had shot the puck down the ice at an empty net and scored until Hextall first accomplished the feat in Dec. 1987 against the Boston Bruins. He was the first to do it twice.

PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
Malik’s stunning shootout winner
Paul Henderson scores for Canada

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.