This was a very important date in Montreal as their greatest captain played his first game with the “C” on his sweater. There were numerous Hall of Famers who had big performances on this date in National Hockey League history, including one in Boston who had four memorable nights.
Beliveau Wears the “C”
Perhaps the greatest of all the Montreal Canadiens legends received a new honor on this date. Jean Beliveau served as team captain for the very first time, on Dec. 7, 1961, as the Habs hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Forum.
Beliveau was originally voted as captain by his teammates, just prior to the start of the 1961-62 season, after the previous captain, defenseman Doug Harvey was traded to the New York Rangers. However, a knee injury kept him out of the first 25 games of the season and he didn’t make his debut as captain until this night.
The “C” remained on Beliveau’s sweater until he retired following the 1970-71 season. The Canadiens won 10 Stanley Cups during his Hall of Fame career, five of them were with him as captain.
Bucyk’s Huge Date
Boston Bruins great Johnny Bucyk absolutely loved playing on this date. Starting on Dec. 7, 1963, when he scored a goal to go along with four assists in an 8-6 victory over the visiting New York Rangers.
Bucyk scored two goals, on Dec. 7, 1967, to lead the Bruins to another win over the Rangers, this time a 3-1 final score. The two tallies gave him 576 career points, passing Milt Schmidt for the most points in team history.
Exactly one year later, on Dec. 7, 1968, Bucyk scored in the second period of a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings to become the first player to score 250 goals in franchise history. He also had two assists to cap off a three-point night.
Finally, on Dec. 7, 1975, Bucyk scored his 507th career goal to tie Beliveau for the sixth-most all-time in NHL history. The goal came in a 2-2 tie with the Beliveau’s old team, the Canadiens. After scoring the first 11 goals of his career with the Red Wings, he scored 545 with the Bruins, the most in team history.
Gretzky Keeps Streaking
On Dec. 7, 1982, Wayne Gretzky scored a pair of goals in the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-2 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues. This pushed his league-record point streak to 30 straight games. This streak came to end in his next game. The Great One scored 24 goals and 76 points during his scoring streak. He would have two streaks longer than this in his career; he 51 straight games with a point the following, which still the longest such streak in NHL history, and a 39-game point streak in 1985-86.
Three years later, on Dec. 7, 1985, Gretzky had a goal and four assists in the Oilers’ 8-4 win over the Minnesota North Stars. Glenn Anderson scored two goals and had four helpers while Jari Kurri scored his 15th career hat trick in the offensive explosion.
More Hall of Fame Moments
Henri Richard scored the 250th goal of his career, on Dec. 7, 1966, in Montreal’s 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. He became the seventh player in team history to reach this plateau, joining his brother Maurice. They were the first set of brothers to both score 250 goals in the NHL.
Gordie Howe scored a goal, on Dec. 7, 1977, in the New England Whalers’ win over the Birmingham Bulls in the World Hockey Association (WHA). This was the 1000th professional goal of his career, NHL and WHA combined.
One year later, on Dec. 7, 1978, Bryan Trottier scored twice and added three assists, while Mike Bossy got his second career hat trick as the New York Islanders beat the Blues 7-1. This victory extended their team-record home undefeated streak to 12 games (9-0-3).
Marcel Dionne lit the lamp, on Dec. 7, 1985, in Los Angeles Kings’ road win at the Winnipeg Jets. This made him the first player to ever score 500 goals as a member of the Kings. He retired with 731 career goals, 550 of those came in a Kings’ sweater.
Al MacInnis became the highest goal-scoring defenseman in Blues’ history, on Dec. 7, 1999, in a 4-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored his 81st goal with the team to break the previous record held by Jeff Brown. He also added an assist in the game.
Odds & Ends
On Dec. 7, 1919, the Toronto Arenas changed their name to the St. Patricks. The franchise used this name for the next seven seasons until taking on the Maple Leafs identity at the start of the 1926-27 season.
The Washington Capitals put an end to 41 days of misery, on Dec. 7, 1977, by beating the Cleveland Barons 5-3. They snapped a 20-game winless streak that saw them go 0-15-5. Their previous win came on Oct. 26, 1977, a 6-2 victory at the Atlanta Flames.
Stan Smyl became the second player in Vancouver Canucks’ team history to score 500 points, on Dec. 7, 1985, as he got the only goal in a 2-1 loss at Washington.
The Islanders fired head coach Terry Simpson, on Dec. 7, 1988, and convinced Al Arbour to come out of retirement to replace him. He coached five more seasons following the remainder of 1988-89, retiring for good in 1994.
Mike Ridley became the second player to ever score 200 goals as a member of the Capitals, on Dec. 7, 1993, during a 6-1 loss to the Whalers.
Marian Gaborik scored three goals, on Dec. 7, 2009, in the Minnesota Wild’s 4-2 win at the Canucks, He became the fourth player in league history to score five hat tricks before his 21st birthday.
Happy Birthday to You
There have been 18 current and former NHL players born on this including three Hall of Famers; the late Ching Johnson and Earl Seibert and longtime Bruins netminder Gerry Cheevers (80). Other notable players of this group include Garry Unger (73), Georges Laraque (44), Milan Michalek (36), Riley Sheahan (29), Sean Couturier (28) and the late Nick Mickoski.