Some big names in the history of the National Hockey League’s “Original 6” franchise made news on this date through the years. Plus, one of the best defensemen of this generation is celebrating a birthday. So, let’s begin our daily trip back in time to relive all the best moments from Aug. 14.
Taffy to the Big Apple
The New York Rangers signed defenseman Clarence Abel on Aug. 14, 1926. The Sault Ste. Marie, MI native, earned a regular spot in the Rangers’ lineup during the 1926-27 season, becoming the first American-born player to do so in NHL history. Abel, known to his teammates as “Taffy,” set the standard for large defensemen at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds.
He was part of the Rangers’ Stanley Cup win in 1928. Right after the 1928-29 season concluded, his contract was purchased by the Chicago Blackhawks for $15,000. Abel spent the next five seasons in Chicago and won a second championship in 1934. He retired after helping the Blackhawks to their first-ever Stanley Cup, playing in 333 NHL games.
Newsworthy Day in Toronto
George Armstrong is adored in Toronto. He spent all 21 of his NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, scoring 296 goals and 713 points in 1,188 games. He was named head coach 33 games into the 1988-89 season, replacing Jim Brophy. On Aug. 14, 1989, Armstrong was fired after going 17-26-4 in his only stint as an NHL head coach. The Maple Leafs named Doug Carpenter as his replacement a few days later.
On Aug. 14, 2009, former team captain Ted Kennedy passed away at the age of 83. He played 14 seasons with the Maple Leafs and wore the “C” on his sweater between 1948 and 1955. He helped the Maple Leafs to four straight Stanley Cup wins between 1945 and 1949. He led all players in the 1948 playoffs with eight goals and 14 points. He was part of a fifth championship in 1951 as well. In his final full season, 1953-54, he won the Hart Trophy for being voted the NHL’s most valuable player.
Odds & Ends
Aug. 14, 1996, was a busy day across the NHL. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim signed free-agent forward Jari Kurri. He split the previous season with the Los Angeles Kings and Rangers. He played in all 82 games for the Ducks during the 1996-97 season. However, he scored just 13 goals and 35 points, the lowest-scoring season of his career at that time. Kurri played one final season with the Colorado Avalanche before retiring in 1998 as the NHL’s highest-scoring left wing in history.
Also, on this date, the Ottawa Senators inked veteran goaltender Ron Tugnutt to a new deal. He spent the previous season as the backup for the Montreal Canadiens. Tugnutt took on a bigger role with the Senators. He played in 166 games over the next four seasons, going 72-51-25 with a .906 save percentage (SV%), 2.32 goals-against average (GAA), and 13 shutouts. He was eventually traded, in 2000, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Tom Barrasso.
The New York Islanders closed out the busy day by signing forward Claude Lapointe. He spent the next seven seasons with the Islanders, scoring 76 goals and 171 points in 535 games. His time on Long Island ended in 2003 when he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth-round draft pick.
On August 14, 1997, the Flyers signed free-agent center Chris Gratton. He was originally drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, behind Alexandre Daigle (Senators) and Chris Pronger (Hartford Whalers). Gratton was coming off the first and only 30-goal season of his career. He scored 22 goals and 62 points during the 1997-98 season. Midway through the following season, he was traded back to the Lightning, with Mike Sillinger, for Mikael Renberg and Daymond Langkow.
Aug. 14, 2020, was a busy day with five Stanley Cup playoffs. Cam Talbot started the day in Edmonton with a 35-save shutout in the Calgary Flames’ 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars to take a 2-0 series lead. Carey Price picked up the second shutout of the day in Toronto. He stopped all 30 shots he faced in the Canadiens’ 5-0 win to even their First Round series with the Flyers at one win apiece. Bo Horvat started the Vancouver Canucks’ scoring with a first-period shorthanded goal before winning the game in overtime. The 5-4 win gave the Canucks a 2-0 series lead over the defending Stanley Cup champs, the St. Louis Blues.
Happy Birthday to You
Appropriately, there have been 14 current and former NHL players born on Aug. 14. The first was Ron Boehm, born in 1943, who played in 16 games for the Oakland Seals during the 1967-68 season. The most recent Aug. 14 birthday was Colorado Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor in 1996.
Shea Weber is the best player of this group, who was born on Aug. 14, 1985. He has scored 224 goals and 589 points in 1,038 career games with the Nashville Predators and Canadiens. He was originally drafted by Predators in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He becomes a star in Nashville with his defense and his blistering slap shot. Weber was traded to Montreal for fellow All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban on June 29, 2016.
Other notable players born on this date include Nolan Pratt (46), Brett McLean (43), Adam Hall (41), Kyle Turris (30), John Klingberg (29), and Carter Verhaeghe (26).
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.