Dec. 8 has been a very unique date in National Hockey League history. It gave the first goal that was actually shot in by a goaltender. It was also a big date for hockey-playing brothers, both as teammates and bitter enemies. In addition, there were some memories made in St. Louis as well. Let’s get in our hockey time machine to travel through the decades.
He Shoots, He Scores
Ron Hextall made NHL history, on Dec. 8, 1987, during the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Late in the game, the Bruins pull their goaltender, Rejean Lemelin, for an extra attacker. Moments later, Hextall got to a loose puck and sent it down the length of the ice and directly into the back of the net.
Billy Smith of the New York Islanders was the first goaltender to ever be credited with a goal, back on Nov. 28, 1979, but it was the result of a defender making an errant back pass during a delayed penalty call. Hextall became the first netminder to actually shoot the puck into the net for a goal in league history.
It’s a Family Affair
Dec. 8, 1968, was a big night for the Hull brothers during the Chicago Blackhawks’ 7-4 victory over the Bruins. The elder Hull, Hall of Famer Bobby, scored the 23rd hat trick of his career. His younger brother, Dennis, added a pair of goals in the winning effort.
The Kariya brothers, Paul and Steve, met for the first time in the NHL, on Dec. 8, 1999. Paul had a power-play goal in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 2-2 with the Vancouver Canucks. Steve did his job by picking up an assist on the night.
On Dec. 8, 2017, both P.K. and Malcolm Subban were in uniform when the Nashville Predators hosted the Vegas Golden Knights. Malcolm got the start in net for the Golden Knights, making the Subbans the 10th set of brothers to play against each other where one is a goaltender and the other is a skater. He made 41 saves and stopped all six shots he faced during a shootout as Vegas came out with a 4-3 victory.
Kurri Sets the Bar
Jari Kurri scored his 250th career goal, on Dec. 8, 1985, as the Edmonton Oilers beat the visiting Blackhawks 4-3. This was just the precursor to a much bigger milestone in his career, reached eight years later.
Now a member of the Los Angeles Kings, on Dec. 8, 1993, Kurri had a goal and two assists in a 6-5 loss to the Florida Panthers. This gave him 1,223 NHL points, putting him one ahead of Peter Stastny for the most scored all-time by a European-born player. His 1,398 career points are still third among players from Europe, behind only Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne.
Meet Me in St. Louis
The St. Louis Blues ran their team-record unbeaten streak to 12 games (5-0-7), on Dec. 8, 1968, with a 4-4 tie versus the Flyers. The record streak ended with a loss their next game and was eventually tied by the 2000-01 team who went 11-0-1 during their 12-game unbeaten stretch.
A decade later, on Dec. 8, 1979, Red Berenson celebrated his 40th birthday in style by being named head coach of the Blues. He replaced his former teammate, Barclay Plager, behind the bench. He went 100-72-32 during his three seasons as head coach.
On Dec. 8, 1990, defenseman Harold Snepsts played in his 1,000th NHL game, a 2-1 Blues’ win over the Red Wings. He had played 781 of those games with the Canucks and also had quick stops with the Minnesota North Stars and Red Wings before playing the final 61 games of his 17-season career in St. Louis.
Five years later, on Dec. 8, 1995, Mike Keenan coached his 800th NHL game, leading the Blues to a 6-3 win over the Canucks.
Odds & Ends
Two months into their first NHL season, on Dec. 8, 1967, the California Seals officially changed their name to the Oakland Seals. In 1970, they changed their name to the California Golden Seals after two games as the Bay Area Seals. The team eventually became the Cleveland Barons in 1976 only to cease operations two years later.
Norm Ullman scored a goal, on Dec. 8, 1974, in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-1 road win at the Blackhawks. This made him the fourth player in NHL history to ever score 1,200 points.
Scotty Bowman led the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win at the Bruins, on Dec. 8, 1984, to give him 690 career victories, tying the all-time wins mark held by Dick Irvin.
Mike Richter led the New York Rangers to a 4-0 win, on Dec. 8, 1991, over the Bruins. It was Richter’s second career shutout and the Rangers first over Boston since Ed Giacomin did it in 1969.
On this same night, there was a trio of personal milestones reached in the Blackhawks 7-2 win over the North Stars, which extended their home unbeaten streak over Minnesota to 14 games (11-0-3). First, Steve Larmer played in his 750th straight game and scored three goals and added two assists. This was the third straight game in which the Blackhawks had a player score a hat trick. Jeremy Roenick chipped with his 100th career goal and two assists. Also, Brian Bellows scored the 300th goal of his career in the losing offer.
The Montreal Canadiens named Pierre Turgeon as their new team captain, replacing Mike Keane, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche two days earlier. He became the 22nd captain in franchise history.
The Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 3-0, on Dec. 8, 1997, in the 5,000th game in franchise history. Mats Sundin was the offensive hero with a pair of goals while Ed Belfour made 25 saves in the losing effort.
The Calgary Flames set an NHL record, on Dec. 8, 2001, by running up 190 penalty minutes (PIM) during the third period of a 4-0 loss to the visiting Mighty Ducks. Current Blues head coach Craig Berube led the way with 33 PIM. Some of the other main offenders were Scott Nichol with 31 PIM and San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner and Denis Gauthier with 29 PIM each. In all, the teams combined for 309 penalty minutes in the game.
On Dec. 8, 2017, Jagr played in his 1,500th game and scored a goal and added an assist in a 2-1 New Jersey Devils’ win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He was the 15th NHLer to play in his 1,500th game and the sixth to have multiple points in it. He joined a very impressive club to do so that included Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Johnny Bucyk, Larry Murphy and Mark Messier.
Happy Birthday to You
There were 15 other current and former NHL players, besides Berenson (81), who were born on this date. The most notable of the bunch are Ted Irvine (76), Darrin Shannon (51), Drew Doughty (31), Mattias Janmark (28), Thatcher Demko (25) and the late Hall of Famer Marty Barry.
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.