A pair of Hockey Hall of Famers were born on this date. One was honored for what he accomplished on the ice, while the other built his legacy off of it. Also, the Los Angeles Kings announced plans to honor one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Kings Send Another Number to the Rafters
On Aug. 21, 2006, the Kings announced they planned on retiring the No. 20 wore by Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille. The Montreal, Quebec native retired at the conclusion of the 2005-06 season after 19 seasons in the league. In his 14 seasons with the Kings, in three different stints, Robitaille scored 557 goals and 1,154 points in 1,077 games.
Robitaille’s number was officially retired on Jan. 20, 2007, in a ceremony before the Kings’ played the Phoenix Coyotes. He is one of six players to have his number raised to the rafters by the Kings. The others are Rob Blake (4), Marcel Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18), Rogie Vachon (30), and Wayne Gretzky (99).
Stars Make a Pair of Moves
The Stars franchise was busy on this date, both before and after their relocation. On Aug. 21, 1990, the Minnesota North Stars traded Ken Hodge Jr. to the Boston Bruins for future considerations. Hodge scored 30 goals in his first season with the Bruins. However, he played in just 67 games for the rest of his career, scoring eight goals.
The future considerations turned out to be Jere Lehtinen. He made his debut with the Dallas Stars in 1995. He played 875 games for them over the next 14 seasons, scoring 243 goals and 514 points. He was a key member of the team’s Stanley Cup win in 1999. He was one of the most-respected two-way forwards in the league during his career. He won three Frank J. Selke Trophies for being the best defensive forward in the NHL.
On Aug. 21, 1996, the Stars signed veteran free-agent forward Pat Verbeek after spending the previous season and a half with the New York Rangers. He played in all but five games for the Stars over the next three seasons. He scored 31 goals during the 1997-98 season. He added three goals and seven points during the 1999 playoff run that ended with a championship. Verbeek signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 1999 and returned to Dallas for one final season in 2001.
Odds & Ends
The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its newest induction class on Aug. 21, 1969. It included players Red Kelly, Sid Abel, Roy Worters, and Bryan Hextall Sr. Bruce Norris, owner of the Red Wings from 1952 until 1982, was elected as a builder.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward and future head coach John Anderson, on Aug. 21, 1985, to the Quebec Nordiques for defenseman Brad Maxwell. Anderson was coming over four straight seasons with at least 31 goals for the Maple Leafs. He scored 21 goals in 65 games for the Nordiques before they traded him to the Hartford Whalers for Riston Siltanen. Maxwell played in 52 games during the 1985-86 season before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks for a late draft pick the following summer.
On Aug. 21, 1992, the Philadelphia Flyers signed veteran defenseman Ric Nattress. He only played in 44 games during the 1992-93 season, his last in the NHL, but he scored a career-high seven goals. He retired with just 29 goals and 164 points in 536 games, over 11 seasons, with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Maple Leafs, and Flyers.
The Edmonton Oilers signed free-agent forward Pat Falloon on Aug. 21, 1998, after splitting the previous season between the Ottawa Senators and Flyers. He played in all 82 games during 1998-99 and scored 17 goals and 40 points, his best offensive output in three seasons. He scored another five goals and 18 points for the Oilers before being claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Penguins 33 games into the 1999-00 season.
Bill Guerin was named as the new general manager of the Minnesota Wild on Aug. 21, 2019. He was a candidate for the job back in May of 2018, but the Wild hired Paul Fenton instead. Guerin spent the previous five seasons as the assistant general manager of the Penguins, where his duties included overseeing their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Blues’ reign as Stanley Cup Champions came to an end in Edmonton on Aug. 21, 2020. The Canucks completed their First Round upset with a 6-2 victory in Game 6. Tyler Motte, who had two goals in Game 5, scored another pair during the third period to close out the series. Brandon Sutter led all scorers with three assists on the night.
Meanwhile, earlier in Toronto, the Flyers moved onto the Second Round with a 3-2 Game 6 win over the Canadiens. Michael Raffl scored the eventual series-clinching goal early in the second period. Rookie Nick Suzuki had a pair of goals for the Canadiens, but it was not enough to extend their season.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 19 current and former NHL players were born on Aug. 21. The first was Bernie Morris, who was born on this date way back in 1890. The forward played in six games for the Bruins, at the age of 34, during the 1924-25 season and picked up a game-winning goal and an assist. The most recent Aug. 21 birthday was Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik, who is celebrating his 26th birthday.
Hockey Hall of Famer Hector “Toe” Blake was born on Aug. 21, 1912, in Victoria Mines, Ontario. He made his NHL debut with the Montreal Maroons in 1934. After eight games with them, the young left winger was traded to the Canadiens, where he became a legendary name of the game.
Over the next 13 seasons, he played in 569 games and scored 235 goals and 529 points. He won the Hart Trophy (league MVP) for leading the NHL with 47 points in 48 games during the 1938-39 season. He was a member of three Stanley Cup-winning teams during his playing career.
A broken leg forced Blake to retire in 1948. He took the Canadiens head coaching job in 1955 and won the Stanley Cup in each of his first five seasons. He won eight championships in his 13 seasons behind the bench to bring his overall career total to 11. He retired from coaching after sweeping the Blues in the 1968 Stanley Cup Final.
Blake is not the only Hall of Famer born on this date. Keith Allen was born on Aug. 21, 1923. He only played in 28 games as a defenseman for the Red Wings, but it was his contributions off the ice that he is remembered for.
In 1967, Allen was hired as the first head coach of the Flyers. He became general manager in 1969 and held on to the job until 1983. He built the famous Broad Street Bullies that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. He added executive vice president to his job title and remained in that role until he died in 2014. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a builder in 1992.
Other notable players born on this date include Steve McKenna (48), Bryan Allen (41), Jared Staal (31), Brandon Davidson (30), and the late Billy Reay.
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.