Dec. 22 is jam-packed with some of the biggest names and greatest players in National Hockey League history. Numerous members of the Hockey Hall of Fame had big moments and reached some significant milestones on this date. So, let’s start our daily journey through the decades and revisit all the memories.
Jagr Passes Messier
Jaromir Jagr picked up an assist on Dec. 22, 2016, to pass Mark Messier for second place on the NHL’s all-time points list. His third-period assist in the Florida Panthers’ 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins gave the ageless one 1,888 points, second only to Wayne Gretzky.
The assist was not the most glorious of his career; a shot from Mike Matheson hit off him and went to Aleksander Barkov, who deposited it into the Boston net. After a brief video review, the game was paused to present Jagr with a golden stick to commemorate his remarkable achievement.
Jagr’s milestone came exactly 20 years after Messier himself made NHL history. On Dec. 22, 1996, he scored two goals and assisted on two others in the New York Rangers’ 7-3 win over the Panthers. His four-point night made him just the fifth player to ever score 1,500 career points in the league.
Flyers Continue Historic Streak
The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Bruins 5-2 on Dec. 22, 1979, to extend their unbeaten streak to 29 games (29-0-10). This was the longest undefeated streak in NHL history, breaking the previous record of 28 games set by the 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers got goals from five players in the historic win as Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Ken Linseman, Jimmy Watson, and Bob Kelly lit the lamp.
The Flyers extended their streak to 35 games (25-0-10) before finally losing to the Minnesota North Stars on Jan. 7, 1980. That spring, they advanced to the Stanly Cup Final before losing to the New York Islanders, who won their first of four straight championships.
A Huge Night in 1974
Dec. 22, 1974, was a very busy night starting with the Esposito brothers both making history. It began with Phil Esposito scoring a pair of goals in the Bruins’ 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. After scoring a shorthanded goal in the second period, he scored again on the power play to become just the sixth player in NHL history to score 500 goals. He joined Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Maurice Richard, Frank Mahovlich, and Jean Beliveau in the 500-goal club. Also, Bobby Orr had a goal and an assist to reach 800 career points.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Tony Esposito recorded his 51st career shutout in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-0 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. This tied him with Hall of Famer Glenn Hall for the most shutouts in franchise history.
Don Luce’s first career hat trick set a Buffalo Sabres team record for the fastest three goals scored by one player. He factored in all four goals during a 4-0 road win at the Washington Capitals. After scoring an unassisted goal midway through the second period, Luce scored a pair of shorthanded goals just 23 seconds apart to give him three goals in 3:49. He also had the primary assist on Craig Ramsay’s first-period shorthanded goal.
Finally, Bernie Parent blanked the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-0 Flyers’ victory. This was his sixth shutout of the 1974-75 season and the 32nd of his career.
The Hulls Make History
Bobby and Brett Hull are the greatest father-son duo in the history of the NHL, and they cemented it on this date, a quarter-century apart. On Dec. 22, 1971, Bobby scored the 28th and final hat trick of his career during the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over the California Golden Seals. At the time, 28 hat tricks were the most ever scored in the league.
Exactly 25 years later, on Dec. 22, 1996, Brett joined his dad in the 500-goal club with a hat trick of his own in the St. Louis Blues’ 7-4 victory against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
He actually had to score his 500th goal twice. He thought he scored it in the opening seconds of the third period, but a few minutes later, the goal was given to Stephane Matteau after it was revealed that the puck hit off his leg before going into the net. There were no doubts when he completed his hat trick midway through the final frame. He was the 24th player to score 500 career goals, and he and Bobby became the first father and son to do so.
More Milestones for Gretzky
Gretzky earned the nickname “The Great One” by having a ton of big performances. Two of which came on this date. On Dec. 22, 1982, he scored a goal and added a pair of assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to an 8-2 win versus the North Stars. This gave him 600 points in just 274 games.
Five years later, on Dec. 22, 1987, Gretzky picked up two assists to give him 1,600 career points in 667 career games, as the Oilers beat the Kings 5-2.
Hall of Famers on Display
On Dec. 22, 1963, Beliveau scored his 325th career goal and added two assists to help the Canadiens beat the Red Wings 6-1. His goal gave him the most in league history by a center, passing Nels Stewart.
Paul Coffey had an assist on Dec. 22, 1990, during the Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Islanders, to become just the second defenseman ever to score 1,000 career NHL points.
Dino Ciccarelli scored a goal, on Dec. 22, 1992, in the Red Wings’ 4-4 tie with the Maple Leafs. This made him the 46th player in league history to score 900 career points.
A decade later, on Dec. 22, 2002, Ron Francis assisted on the only goal of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 1-0 win against the Dallas Stars. He joined Gretzky as the only two players to record 1,200 NHL assists. The current general manager of the Seattle Kraken is still second all-time with 1,249 helpers.
Odds & Ends
The Hamilton Tigers became the first and only team to post a shutout in its NHL debut on Dec. 22, 1920, when they beat the Canadiens 5-0. Babe Dye scored a pair of goals while goaltender Howie Lockhart earned the only shutout of his NHL career.
Rick Middleton became the third player in Bruins franchise history to score 400 goals on Dec. 22, 1997, in a 9-0 blowout of the Sabres. Goaltender Reggie Lemelin picked up his first shutout as a member of the team.
Two years later, on Dec. 22, 1989, Rick Vaive became the 29th player in league history to score 400 career goals in the Sabres’ 2-2 tie at Montreal.
Current Minnesota Wild head coach Dean Evason scored a shorthanded overtime goal on Dec. 22, 1993, to give the Stars a 3-2 win at the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. This was the first shorthanded goal scored in extra time since the NHL reinstated overtime at the start of the 1983-84 season.
Alexander Mogilny set a team record on Dec. 22, 1995, with three goals within a span of 2:55 in the third period. He also had an assist to go along with his 12th career hat trick in the Vancouver Canucks’ 6-2 road win in Anaheim.
Scotty Bowman became the first coach in NHL history to win 200 games with three different teams, on Dec. 22, 1997, when the Red Wings beat the Bruins 4-2. He had previously won 200 games with the Canadiens and Sabres.
Exactly one year later, on Dec. 22, 1998, Larry Robinson, who played for Bowman in Montreal, earned his 100th NHL victory as head coach of the Kings. He became the fourth coach in franchise history to win 100 games, by beating the Penguins 3-0. He is still fifth-all time with 122 victories behind the Kings’ bench.
Happy Birthday to You
Dec. 22 is the birth date of 16 players who have skated in at least one NHL game. The best of this bunch are Ian Turnbull (68), Stefan Persson (67), Ron Greschner (67), Paul Fenton (62), Kirk Maltby (49), Stan Neckar (46), Scott Darling (33), Travis Dermott (25), and Nico Daws (21).
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.