The month of August has not usually a busy one in National Hockey League history, but 2020 is changing that. This date has seen quite a few memorable moments with some veteran players finding new teams and the birth of two Hockey Hall of Famers.
Ftorek & Norwood Return to the NHL
Long before becoming a head coach in the NHL, Robbie Ftorek played 13 professional seasons, including five in the World Hockey Association. On Aug. 13, 1979, he signed with the Quebec Nordiques as both he and the franchise prepared to make the jump to the NHL. This marked his return to the league since left for the WHA in 1974 after two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.
After four straight seasons with at least 109 points in the WHA, Ftorek scored 18 goals and 51 points, in 52 games, during the 1979-80 season. He scored a total of 43 goals and 133 points before being traded to the New York Rangers, in 1981, after 149 games in Quebec.
Defenseman Lee Norwood played 503 games in the NHL over 12 seasons. He signed with the St. Louis Blues on Aug. 13, 1985. This marked his return to the league after spending the previous two seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) and International Hockey League (IHL). He won the Governor’s Trophy, at the end of the 1984-85 season, for being the IHL’s most outstanding defenseman while playing with the Peoria Riverman.
He played 71 games for the Blues during the 1985-86 season and was traded to the Red Wings on Aug. 7, 1986. He returned to St. Louis during the 1991-92 season when the Hartford Whalers traded him for a fifth-round draft pick. He played in 147 games with the Blues over three seasons.
Odds & Ends
The Boston Bruins signed a pair of free agents, on Aug. 13, 1987, in goaltender Reggie Lemelin and center Bill O’Dwyer. Lemelin played in 183 games over the next six seasons. He went 92-62-17 with a .884 save percentage (SV%) 3.09 goals-against average (GAA) and six shutouts. He and Andy Moog won the William Jennings Trophy, in 1990, for allowing the fewest goals in the league.
O’Dwyer scored seven goals and 17 points during the 1987-88 season. He played in the just 19 games during the following season. He appeared in his final six NHL games with the Bruins during the 1989-90 season, which he spent the majority of in the AHL.
The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Mathieu Schneider on Aug. 13, 2000. He scored 16 goals and 51 points during the 2000-01 season. He played in 193 games with the Kings before getting traded to the Red Wings, in 2003, for Sean Avery, Maxim Kuznetsov and a first and second-round draft pick.
During his career, Schneider played in 1,298 games over 21 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Rangers, Kings, Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes.
On August 13, 2002, Dallas Stars signed 35-year-old free agent Ulf Dahlen, who had spent the previous three seasons with the Washington Capitals. This was his second stint with the Stars organization. In 1990, he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in the deal that sent Mike Gartner to the Rangers.
He was with the franchise through their relocation to Dallas before getting traded to the San Jose Sharks in 1994. The veteran had a productive 2002-03 season, scoring 17 goals and 37 points in 63 games. This was Dahlen’s final season in the NHL. He scored 301 goals and 655 points, in 966 total games.
Happy Birthday to You
Aug. 13 has seen the birth of a very impressive group of 28 NHL players. The first was Ed Lowery in 1891. He played 27 games for the Ottawa Senators and Hamilton Tigers between 1918 and 1921. The most recent Aug. 13 birthday was Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart in 1998.
Joe Simpson, born in 1893, is one of two Hockey Hall of Famers born on this date. He earned the nickname “Bullet” because of his fast skating while playing in Manitoba. After enlisting into the Canadian Army during World War I, he got his first chance to play professional hockey in 1920 with Edmonton Eskimos in the Big-4 League. He and the Eskimos joined the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he made a name for himself with his impressive rushes up the ice.
He made his NHL debut with the New York Americans in 1925, who he played 228 games for over six seasons. Simpson retired from playing in 1931 and became the Americans’ head coach at the start of the 1932-33 season. He spent three seasons behind their bench, going 42-72-30.
Bobby Clarke, the other Hockey Hall of Famer, was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba on Aug. 13, 1949 He was originally drafted by the Flyers in the second round of the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft. He spent his entire 15-season NHL career in Philadelphia, scoring 358 goals and 1,210 points in 1,144 games.
Clarke won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, three times. He took home the Lester Pearson Award for leading the NHL with 104 points during the 1972-73 season. In 1983, he won the Frank Selke Trophy for being voted the best defensive forward. Most importantly, he was the Flyers’ captain for the back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.
When his playing days ended in 1984, Clarke was immediately named the general manager of the Flyers. He spent 19 of the next 23 seasons in that role, leaving briefly to serve as the general manager for both the North Stars and Florida Panthers.
Bill Masterton was born on Aug. 13, 1938, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During his rookie season with the North Stars, on Jan. 13, 1968, he landed on his head after a hard check during a game against the Oakland Seals. He succumbed to the severe injuries and died two days later.
The NHL gives out the Bill Masterton Trophy each season, in his memory, to the player who demonstrates perseverance and dedication to hockey. His number 19 was retired by the North Stars.
Other notable players celebrating birthdays today include Mark Osborne (59), Shayne Corson (54), Marcus Ragnarsson (49), Marty Turco (45), Ales Hemsky (37), Cedric Paquette (27), Johnny Gaudreau (27), Jujhar Khaira (26) and Filip Forsberg (26).