This date has seen a number of the greatest players in National Hockey League history take their place in the Hall of Fame. Plus, a very popular player called it a career shortly after winning the ultimate prize and one of the all-time greatest coaches passed away.
Hockey World Loses Coaching Legend
The bench general for the New York Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty of the early 1980s, Al Arbour, passed away at the age of 82 on Aug. 28, 2015.
Long before he started his historic coaching career, Arbour played 626 NHL games as a defenseman with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. He started his trend of winning consecutive championships by winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961. He was claimed in the Intra-League draft by the Maple Leafs that summer and went on to be part of three straight Stanley Cup teams between 1962 and 1964.
Arbour got his first taste of being a head coach while he was still an active player for the Blues in 1970. He remained as their head coach for one more season after he retired from playing in 1972. He became the Islanders coach in 1973, just their second year in existence. The team was very competitive during the 1970s and finally won their first champions in 1980, starting a streak of four straight Stanley victories.
He parted ways with the Islanders after the 1985-86 season but returned two years later. His second stint lasted through the 1993-94 season. He returned for one game in 2007 to give him 1,500 behind the Islanders’ bench. When he retired for good, he had 782 career wins, the second-most in NHL history. He has since been passed by Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock and Barry Trotz but still remains in fifth place for all-time coaching wins.
A Double Shot of Inductions
The Hockey Hall of Fame opened its doors to two separate groups on this date. On Aug. 28, 1965, 10 players and two builders were inducted. Blackhawks forward Bill Mosienko and Red Wings star Syd Howe were the headliners of the class. Forward Marty Barry, goaltender Clint Benedict, Maple Leafs defenseman Red Horner and pre-NHL players Art Farrell, Jack Marshall, Blair Russell, Ernie Russell and Fred Scalon are also included. Broadcaster Foster Hewitt and American hockey pioneer Tommy Lockhart rounded out the 1965 class.
A decade later, on Aug. 28, 1975, another impressive class was enshrined. Defenseman Pierre Pilote and goaltender Glenn Hall, longtime teammates with the Blackhawks, were inducted together. George Armstrong, Ace Bailey and Gordie Drillon, who all starred for the Maple Leafs in different decades, rounded out the players’ portion of the group. In the builder category, former New York Rangers president Williams Jennings received the Hall of Fame honor. He played a major role in the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967.
McDonald Hangs Up His Skates
Lanny McDonald announced his retirement, on Aug. 28, 1989, just three months after winning the Stanley Cup with Calgary Flames. He finished his 16-season NHL career with exactly 500 goals and 1,006 points in 1,111 points.
McDonald was drafted by the Maple Leafs with the fourth overall pick of the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. He broke out during the 1976-77 season when he scored 46 goals, starting a streak of four straight seasons of at least 40 goals. He was such a popular player in Toronto that fans protested outside of Maple Leafs Garden when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies on Dec. 29, 1979.
Less than two years later, he was traded to the Flames, who he spent the remainder of his career with. He scored a franchise-record 66 goals during his first full season in Calgary. He scored 11 goals and 18 points in 22 games during the 1986 postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final.
McDonald was scratched for Games 3-5 of the 1989 Stanley Cup Final versus the Montreal Canadiens. He was reinserted into the lineup for Game 6, where he scored the final goal of his career in the Flames 4-2 victory that clinched their one and only championship in franchise history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Odds & Ends
On Aug. 28, 1970, the NHL reinstated former players Billy Taylor (Rangers) and Don Gallinger (Bruins), who were both expelled from the league in 1948 for violating gambling policies. NHL President Clarence Campbell claimed he had conclusive evidence that both Taylor and Gallinger were involved with a known criminal, James Tamer, and had placed hockey bets with him.
The New Jersey Devils acquired Bobby Holik, on Aug. 28, 1992, from the Hartford Whalers in exchange for goaltender Sean Burke and defenseman Eric Weinrich. Holik spent the next 10 seasons in a Devils uniform, scoring 198 goals and 463 points in 724 games. He was a big part of the Devils’ Stanley Cup wins in 1995 and 2000. After two seasons with the Rangers and three with the Atlanta Thrashers, Holik returned to the Devils for the 2008-09 season, his final in the NHL.
The Los Angeles Kings reacquired Luc Robitaille, on Aug. 28, 1997, by trading Kevin Stevens to the Rangers. Robitaille was originally drafted by the Kings in the ninth round (171st overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the first nine seasons of his Hall of Fame career in Los Angeles, scoring at least 44 in each of those seasons. He played four more seasons with the Kings before signing with the Red Wings in 2001. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2002, he returned to the Kings for a third and final stint.
The Phoenix Coyotes hired Mike Barnett to be their new general manager, on Aug. 28, 2001. He replaced Cliff Fletcher, who was promoted to senior vice president. Barnett remained in the role through the end of the 2006-07 season, but the team failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs during his tenure. Some of his notable draft picks included Blake Wheeler, Martin Hanzel and Keith Yandle, but not a single player he drafted in 2003 ever made it to the NHL.
Happy Birthday to You
At total of 15 players born on this date made it the NHL for at least one game. The first was Harry Helman, born on this date in 1984, who played in 44 games for the original Ottawa Senators between 1923 and 1925. The most recent was Marek Hrivik, turning 29 today, who played in 24 games for both the Rangers and Flames between 2016 and 2018.
Hall of Famer forward Andy Bathgate was born on Aug. 28, 1932, in Winnipeg, MB. Bathgate scored 349 goals and 973 points in 1,069 games for the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Penguins. Most of his success came with the Rangers, who he spent the first 12 seasons of his career with. He won the 1959 Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most player, by scoring 40 and 88 points for the Rangers.
On Feb. 22, 1964, Bathgate was traded to the Maple Leafs, with Don McKenney, for Dick Duff, Bob Nevin, Rod Seiling, Arnie Brown and Bill Collins. He won the Stanley Cup in Toronto in 1964. He officially retired from professional hockey after 11 games with the Vancouver Blazers of the World Hockey Association (WHA) during the 1974-75 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.
Pierre Turgeon, born on Aug. 28, 1969, leads this group with 515 goals and 1,327 points in 1,294 games. He was originally the first overall pick of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He also spent time with the Islanders, Canadiens, Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. Many wonder about when he will join Bathgate in the Hall of Fame.
Other notable players celebrating a birthday today include Larry Giroux (69), Tom Fitzgerald (52), Darby Hendrickson (48) and Tim Sestito (36).
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.