This has been a very busy date in the history of the National Hockey League. The theme of the day was expansion, leading scorers, historic firsts and the number 100. Let’s strap into our frozen way back machine and take a look back at all the history Dec. 9 has to offer us.
Major Expansion Announced
On Dec. 9, 1989, the NHL announced a major goal towards expansion as they unveiled their plans to go from 21 teams to 28 over the next 10 years. The first team of this influx of expansion was already announced, as the San Jose Sharks were set to begin play at the start of the 1991-92 season.
Eventually, the league overshoots its goal of 28 teams and expands all the way to 30 teams by the year 2000. After the Sharks, the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning are added to the mix in 1992. The following year, both the Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim play their first games. The Nashville Predators join in 1998 and the Atlanta Thrashers make it 28 teams in 1999. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild become part of the league in 2000 and they were the last expansion teams added until the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017.
The NHL saw some movement near the top of its all-time goal-scoring list twice on this date, some 23 years apart. First, on Dec. 9, 1933, Howie Morenz scored the 246th goal of this career in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. This tied him with Cy Denneny of the original Ottawa Senators for most in NHL history.
Fast forward to Dec. 9, 1956, and Gordie Howe scored his 324th career goal, ironically, in a Detroit Red Wings loss to the Rangers. This drew him even with Nel Stewart for the second-most goals in league history. Stewart amassed his 324 goals with the Montreal Maroons, Boston Bruins and New York Americans. They both only trailed Maurice Richard of the Canadiens.
A First Time for Everything
Goaltender Glenn Hall led the St. Louis Blues to a 1-0 win, on Dec. 9, 1967, over the Oakland Seal. This was the first shutout in franchise history and the 69th of his Hall of Fame career.
Rick Martin became the first player in Buffalo Sabres history to score 100 goals, on Dec. 9, 1973, in a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. He only needed 174 games to hit this milestone, which, at the time, made him the fastest player in NHL history to do so.
Six years later, on Dec. 9, 1979, rookie Eddie Mio recorded the first shutout in Edmonton Oilers’ NHL history, and the first of his first career, in a 3-0 win over the Hartford Whalers. This game was also the second of four ever played that saw both Howe and Wayne Gretzky face each other. Gretzky scored the 11th goal of his career on this night.
Ron Sutter scored his first career goal, the game-winner, on Dec. 9, 1982, to help the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Quebec Nordiques 4-1. This marked the first time in league history that five brothers from the same family scored in the NHL.
On Dec. 9, 1986, rookie Luc Robitaille scored three goals to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 7-2 victory over the New York Islanders. This was the first of 15 regular-season hat tricks in his career.
One year later, Robbie Ftorek became the first U.S.-born head coach in Kings franchise history, replacing Mike Murphy. He lost his coaching debut that night, 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils.
Gordie Roberts became the first player born in the United States to play 1,000 NHL games, on Dec. 9, 1992, in the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Sabres.
Marian Hossa scored his first career NHL goal, on Dec. 9, 1998, and picked up two assists in the Senators’ 6-5 loss at the Panthers.
The Century Mark
On Dec. 9, 1978, Glenn Resch became the second goaltender in Islanders history to record 100 victories, joining Billy Smith, with a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs.
Mike Liut became the first goaltender in St. Louis franchise history to record 100 wins, on Dec. 9, 1982, as the Blues beat the Calgary Flames 7-2. He was the third-fastest goaltender to 100 victories in league history, after Montreal’s Bill Durnan and Boston’s Frank Brimsek.
Wendel Clark scored his 100th NHL goal, on Dec. 9, 1989, in the Maple Leafs’ 7-4 home-ice win over the rival Canadiens.
Jarome Iginla scored twice in a 76-second span in the first period to give him 100 goals in his NHL career, on Dec. 9, 2000, as the Flames blew out the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 7-2.
Odds & Ends
The Toronto St. Patricks signed youngster Clarence “Hap” Day, on Dec. 9, 1924, out of the University of Toronto. The Hall of Fame defenseman went on to play in 543 games, over 13 seasons, with the St. Pats and Maple Leafs. He was part of the Leafs’ 1932 Stanley Cup championship run.
Stan Mikita became just the third player in Blackhawks team history to play in 1,000 games, on Dec. 9, 1973. He had two assists in a 5-3 win over the visiting Minnesota North Stars. Exactly five years later, he became the second player in NHL history to record 900 assists, as the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-2. At the time, just he and Howe had reached this plateau.
Guy Lafleur extended his team-record assist streak to 12 straight games, on Dec. 9, 1979, in a Canadiens’ 7-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies. He recorded 15 assists during the 12-game streak, breaking the previous team record set by Pete Mahovlich.
Three years later, on Dec. 9, 1982, the longest goal-scoring in league history, 30 games, comes to an end when Gretzky is held scoreless in the Oilers’ 3-3 tie with the Kings. Rookie goaltender Gary Laskoski pulled off the rare feat of keeping the Great One out of the back of the net.
Martin Gelinas scored a goal while playing in his 1,000th NHL game, on Dec. 9, 2003, a Flames’ 2-1 loss at the Minnesota Wild.
The Colorado Avalanche’s line of Milan Hejduk, Paul Stastny and Ryan Smyth exploded for 14 combined points, on Dec. 9, 2007, in a 9-5 win over the Blues. Hejduk led the way with three goals and three assists. Stastny chipped in with two goals and three assists while Smyth scored a goal and added two helpers.
On Dec. 9, 2017, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up the 419th win of his career by leading the Rangers to a 5-2 victory over the Devils. He passed Blackhawks’ legend Tony Esposito for the most wins by a netminder for one franchise. Martin Brodeur is still the leader in this category with 688 wins with New Jersey.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 21 current and former NHL players share a birthday on this date. The most notable of this lot are Noel Price (85), Bill Hay (85), Nick Libett (75), Dana Murzyn (54), Petr Nedved (49), Jim Slater (38), Jeff Petry (33), Alex Lyon (28), Kyle Connor (24), Mackenzie Blackwood (24) and the late Bep Guidolin and Pit Martin.
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.