Aug. 7 is a bittersweet day in NHL history as the hockey world lost one of its greatest players on this date. It also saw one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time change addresses and finally get his chance to be a full-time starter. Finally, a future Hall-of-Famer in Sidney Crosby was born in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Chicago Loses a Legend
Stan Mikita, the Chicago Blackhawks’ all-time leading scorer, died at 78 on Aug. 7, 2018. His career was known for both longevity and innovation. He debuted for the Blackhawks during the 1958-59 season and remained a fixture in their lineup until 1980.
Mikita was undersized at just 5-foot-9 and 169 pounds and did not have a big personality like his teammate Bobby Hull. However, he still became one of the game’s best offensive players. He scored at least 30 goals nine different times. He won the Art Ross Trophy, for leading the league in scoring, in four out of five seasons between 1964 and 1968. He won back-to-back Hart Trophies, as the NHL’s most valuable player, in 1967 and 1968.
In fact, he won the Art Ross, Hart and Lady Bing Trophies in each of those seasons, the only player ever to accomplish that feat. The Lady Bing is given out each season to the most gentlemanly player, and Mikita winning this award was quite the turnaround. He racked up 300 combined penalty minutes during 1963-64 and 1964-65 seasons. He cleaned up his act and only accrued 26 combined penalty minutes during his two Lady Bing winning seasons.
Mikita became one of the first players in the league to wear a helmet full time. He also, along with Hull, made innovations by playing around with the curve on their stick blades. This allowed them to get the puck off the ice more and become even deadlier snipers.
When he retired in 1980, Mikita was the third leading scorer in NHL history. He still leads the Blackhawks with 926 assists, 1,467 points, and 1,396 games played. His 541 careers goal are second only to Hull.
Hasek Traded to Buffalo
Back in 1992, the Chicago Blackhawks had a problem that every NHL general manager wished they had; two outstanding young goaltenders on the roster. They had both Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek under contract but only one net to start them in. This led them to trade one of the future Hockey Hall of Famers.
On Aug. 7, 1992, the Blackhawks shipped Hasek to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goaltender Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Hasek eventually became the starter in Buffalo and had great success.
He appeared in 491 games over nine seasons with the Sabers, posting a record of 234-170-70 with a .926 save percentage (SV%), 2.22 goals-against average (GAA), and 55 shutouts. He won five Vezina Trophies for being voted the best goaltender in the league. In 1999, he won 13 postseason games helping the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup Final. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 2001.
Belfour remained the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender until 1997. Beauregard never played in Chicago. Three days after the Hasek trade, he was moved to the Winnipeg Jets for Christian Ruuttu, who put up 90 points in three seasons with the Blackhawks. The fourth-round pick was used to select Eric Daze. He scored 226 goals and 398 points in 601 career games for the Blackhawks.
Busy Date for Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a bevy moves on this date over the years. On Aug. 7, 1976, they signed free-agent goaltender Denis Herron. This was his second of three stints with the Penguins in his 14-season NHL career. Herron went 88-133-44 with a .886 SV% and 3.88 GAA over his 290 games in a Penguins sweater.
On Aug. 7, 1997, they re-signed center Martin Straka. The Penguins originally drafted Straka with the 19th overall pick of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. He scored 30 goals during the 1993-94 season before being traded to the Ottawa Senators for Troy Murray and Norm Maciver.
He scored a career-high 35 goals during the 1998-99 season. He remained with the team until he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, in 2003, for Martin Strbak.
Five years later, on Aug. 7, 2002, they signed defenseman Dick Tarnstrom, who spent the previous season with the New York Islanders. In 2003-04, he scored 16 goals and 52 points to become the first blueliner to lead the Penguins in scoring.
A Busy Day in the Bubbles
On Aug. 7, 2020, three teams advanced into the round of 16 in the Edmonton bubble. Brad Richardson scored in overtime to give the Arizona Coyotes a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their Qualifying Round series and a 3-1 series win.
Dominik Kubalik scored the game-winning goal to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers and close out their Qualifying Round series. Chicago was the 24th and final team to make it into the expanded playoff format. They were the 12th seed in the Western Conference and upset the fifth-seeded Oilers in four games.
Chris Tanev scored just 11 seconds into overtime to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-4 win against the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks won the best-of-five series in four games to advance to the next round, where they faced the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues.
On this same day in Toronto, Auston Matthews’ overtime goal kept the Maple Leafs’ season alive in a 4-3 Game 4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, forcing a fifth and final game in their Qualifying Round series. The Maple Leafs were down 3-0 with less than six minutes to play when William Nylander got them on the board. Matthews assisted on late goals by John Tavares and Zach Hyman to force overtime before winning the game in extra time.
Later that night, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Penguins 2-0 with third-period goals by Artturi Lehkonen and Shea Weber. They closed out this Qualifying Round series in four games, becoming the second 12 seed to advance on this day.
Odds & Ends
While most hockey fans today may only know Joe Micheletti as a color commentator, he had a six-season professional career, as a defenseman, in the World Hockey Association (WHA) and NHL. Long before he started broadcasting New York Rangers games, on Aug. 7, 1979, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues, by the Oilers, for Tom Roulston and Risto Siltanen. He played 137 games before the Blues before being traded to the Colorado Rockies.
The Minnesota North Stars re-acquired Bobby Smith from the Canadiens on Aug. 7, 1990, in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. The North Stars originally selected Smith with the first overall pick of the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.
Smith scored 30 goals and 74 points in 1978-79 and won the Calder Trophy for being the top rookie that season. He scored at least 24 goals in each of his first five seasons with Minnesota, including a career-high 43 n 1981-92. On Oct. 28, 1983, he was traded to the Canadiens for Keith Acton, Mark Napier and a third-round draft pick. Smith had two seasons of at least 30 goals in Montreal and won the Stanley Cup in 1986.
Happy Birthday to You
There are nine current and former NHL players who were born on Aug. 7. The first was Hazen McAndrew in 1917, who played in seven games for the Brooklyn Americans in 1942. The most recent was Sheldon Rampal in 1995, who dressed in seven games for the Kings in 2019.
By far, the best player celebrating a birthday today is Sidney Crosby, who was born on Aug. 7, 1987, in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. He was drafted by the Penguins with the first overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He made an immediate impact with 39 goals and 102 points in his rookie season, winning the Calder Trophy. The following season, he became the youngest player ever to win a scoring title with 120 points.
Crosby has served as the Penguins’ captain since 2007. He played a huge role in Stanley Cup championships in 2009, 2016 and 2017. He has also won the Hart Trophy (regular-season MVP) and Conn Smythe Trophy (postseason MVP) twice in his career.
Other notable players born on this date include Jonathan Bernier (34), Jake Allen (32), Damon Severson (28), and John Leonard (24).