This date has seen its fair share of memorable events in National Hockey League history. The Los Angeles Kings signed a future crown jewel on defense to his first professional contract. Also, there was a front-office shakeup in Toronto and the birth of a Hall of Fame netminder. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take us on our daily trip back in time.
Kings Solidify Their Blue Line
On Aug. 11, 2008, the Kings signed defenseman Drew Doughty to his first NHL contract. They selected him with the second overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, behind Steven Stamkos, after a great junior career with the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
Doughty was in the opening night lineup for the Kings that fall. He played in 81 games during his rookie season, scoring six goals and 27 points. His offensive numbers saw a significant rise in 2009-10 when he scored 16 goals and 59 points. The 16 goals are still the high-water mark of his career so far, and he didn’t hit the 60-point mark until the 2017-18 season.
There are many adjectives to describe Doughty, but reliable is one of the best that applies. Since his rookie season of 2008-09, he has missed only 19 games and played in every single game in five straight seasons between 2014 and 2019. He’s been a workhorse averaging 26:16 of ice time per game in his career. Since entering the league, only Ryan Suter has averaged more ice time than Doughty.
The London, Ontario native remains one of the top defensemen in the league. He’s been an All-Star four times in this career. He was a big part of the Kings’ Stanley Cup victories in 2012 and 2014, and he won the 2016 Norris Trophy for being voted the best blueliner in the NHL.
Stellick Steps Down
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Gord Stellick stepped down on Aug. 11, 1989. He began working for the Maple Leafs when he was just 17-years-old. He made history in April of 1988 by becoming the youngest general manager in league history at just 30-years-old. Floyd Smith was named as his replacement four days later.
Stellick’s tenure with the Maple Leafs only lasted 16 months as he cited indifference from team owner Harold Ballard when he resigned. The New York Rangers hired him as an assistant general manager, but he was fired from that post in 1991.
Since his executive career ended, Stellick moved behind the microphone. He has had a successful broadcasting career, hosting various radio and television shows in Toronto covering the Maple Leafs.
Odds & Ends
The New York Rangers purchased the contract of Max Bentley from the Maple Leafs on Aug. 11, 1953. Bentley became a star with the Chicago Blackhawks, playing with his brothers Doug and Reg between 1940 and 1947. He won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, in 1946 after scoring 31 goals and a league-leading 61 points. In 1947, Bentley was traded to the Maple Leafs, where he was part of a team that won three Stanley Cups in four seasons.
He played in 57 games during the 1953-54 season, scoring 14 goals and 32 points. When he refused to report to training the following fall, his rights reverted to the Maple Leafs. When they refused to meet Bentley’s request for a raise, they agreed to release him so he could become the player/coach for the Saskatoon Quakers in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Recurring back injuries forced him to retire in 1955.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim reacquired Stu Grimson on Aug. 11, 1998. They traded David Karpa, and a fourth-round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for Grimson and Kevin Haller. He was a member of the inaugural Ducks team after being selected in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft. He played a total of 231 games in a Ducks uniform.
On Aug. 11, 2007, the Phoenix Coyotes acquired Radim Vrbata from the Blackhawks for Kevyn Adams. He finished second in scoring for the Coyotes during the 2007-08 season with 27 goals and 56 points. He signed with Tampa Bay Lightning the following summer and was traded back to the Coyotes, in July of 2009, for a much longer stay with the team. Vrbata had three total stints with the Coyotes and played in 509 games, scoring 157 goals and 343 points.
On Aug. 11, 2020, Dillon Dube scored two first-period goals to lead the Calgary Flames to a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their First Round playoff series in Edmonton.
Later that day in Toronto, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets opened their First Round series. Yanni Gourde tied the game at 2-2 just 23 seconds into the third period and it was a long time before another goal was scored. At 10:27 of the fifth overtime period, Brayden Point scored his second goal of the game to give the Lightning a 3-2 win and an early 1-0 series lead. The 90:27 of extra time made this the fourth-longest playoff game in NHL history. Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones led all players with an incredible 65:06 of time on ice.
Happy Birthday to You
There have been 21 players born on this date who have skated in the NHL. The first was goaltender Connie Dion in 1918. He played in 38 games for the Detroit Red Wings between 1943 and 1945. The most recent Aug. 11 birthday was Montreal Canadiens’ goaltending prospect Cayden Primeau, born on this date in 1999.
Goaltender Chuck Rayner is the lone Hall of Famer of this group, born on Aug. 11, 1920, in Sutherland, Saskatchewan. He made his NHL debut with the New York Americans during the 1940-41 season at age 20. When the team folded in 1942, he spent three years serving in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II.
He returned to the NHL in 1945 when he signed with the Rangers. He played for eight seasons, going 123-178-73 with an overall 2.98 goals-against average (GAA). He won the Hart Trophy, as the league’s most valuable player, for his performance in 1949-50, a season that ended with a double-overtime loss to the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973 despite never having a winning record in any of his 10 NHL seasons.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was born on Aug. 11, 1965. He played in the most games of any player born on this date, dressing in 1,191 contests as a defenseman for eight different teams over 20 seasons.
Ken Linseman is the highest-scoring player in this group. He scored 256 goals and 807 points in 860 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, and Maple Leafs.
Other notable players born on Aug. 11 include Dave Shand (65), Aaron Miller (50), Lubomir Visnovsky (45), Jason Williams (41), Alex Kerfoot (27), and the late Larry Popein.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.