Aug. 3 is an interesting date in National Hockey League history. One of the teams in the league’s first wave of expansion officially announced its name. Also, the first U.S.-born player to skate in the league and a future Hall of Famer are among today’s birthday boys.
A New Name in Philadelphia
On Aug. 3, 1966, the expansion franchise in Philadelphia, one of six teams preparing to debut in 1967, officially revealed the Flyers name. Owner Ed Snider wanted to have an original and fresh name for his new team. He did not want to use “Quakers” or “Ramblers,” which had been names of past hockey teams in the city.
It was Snider’s sister, Phyllis, who suggested the name Flyers and he instantly falls in love with it. The problem was, the team was holding a contest for the fans to name the team. Snider instructed those running the promotion to select the winner from those who suggested the name Flyers.
The contest ran for ten days in July. More than 11,000 entries were submitted, including Ice picks, Acmes, Philly-Billies, Greenbacks, Scars, and Strips and Croaking Crickets. Liberty Bell and Quakers got the most votes, but Flyers, of course, got the only votes that counted. On August 3, the team announced its new name at an outdoor conference at the arena construction site.
Alec Stockard, a 9-year-old boy from Narberth, one of the untold numbers of entrants who had submitted the name “Flyers,” won the television in a drawing conducted by Putnam. However, Stockard had spelled it “Fliers.” None of the team’s founders recall why the second dictionary spelling of the word-with a “y” instead of an “i”-was chosen.
The Flyers made their NHL debut on Oct. 11, 1967, with a 3-1 loss at the Oakland Seals. They played their first game in Philadelphia on Oct. 19, 1967, and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0.
WHA Lands Another NHL Player
Staying in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association (WHA) made some noise on this date. On Aug. 3, 1972, they purchased the contract of forward John McKenzie from the Boston Bruins.
McKenzie was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1972 WHA General Player Draft. His rights were traded to the Blazers, who worked on a deal to bring him over before the league’s first season began.
Originally an undrafted free agent, McKenzie made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1958. After bouncing around between the Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, he landed with the Bruins in 1965. He had his best seasons in Boston, scoring at least 28 goals in four straight seasons. He won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1970 and 1972.
McKenzie scored 28 goals and 78 points, in 60 games, during the Blazers’ lone season in Philadelphia before the team relocated to Vancouver. He played in all seven seasons of the WHA’s existence also playing for the Minnesota Fighting Saints, Cincinnati Stingers and New England Whalers. He amassed 163 goals and 413 points in his WHA career. Overall, he had 369 goals and 887 points in 1,169 professional games between the NHL and WHA.
Odds & Ends
The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Pete Mahovlich to the Red Wings, on Aug. 3, 1979, for left wing Nick Libett. This was a homecoming for Mahovlich, who was drafted by the Red Wings in 1963. He played the first 82 games of NHL career in Detroit before being traded to the Montreal Canadians, in 1969, along with Bart Crashley, for Garry Monahan and Doug Piper.
This was a trade the Red Wings went on to regret. Mahovlich played in 580 games, over eight seasons, with the Canadiens and scored 223 goals and 569 points. He was a part of four Stanley Cup championship teams. Monahan played in just 51 games for Detroit before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Piper never played in the NHL.
Mahovlich scored 16 goals and added 50 assists during the 1979-80 season for the Red Wings. He played in 24 games the following season before retiring.
The Washington Capitals signed free-agent veteran center Dave Poulin on Aug. 3, 1993. Poulin was originally signed by the Flyers after playing at the University of Notre Dame. His career got off to a great start with 31 goals during his rookie season of 1983-84 and scored 30 more the following season. He won the Selke Trophy for being voted the best defensive forward in the league during the 1986-87 season.
Poulin was traded to the Bruins, during the 1989-90 season, for Ken Linesman. He won the King Clancy Trophy in 1993, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. He played in 92 games over two seasons with the Capitals, scoring 10 goals and 34 points.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 14 current and former players have been born on Aug. 3. Howard McNamara (1893) was the first and Shea Theodore is the most recent (1995).
Marcel Dionne is the only Hall of Famer to be born on this date (1951). He leads the group with 1,348 games played, 731 goals and 1,771 points. Dionne was originally drafted by the Red Wings with the second overall pick of the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. He scored 139 goals and 366 points in his four seasons in Detroit.
He joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1975, where he scored at least 50 goals in six seasons and eclipsed the 100-point mark seven times. His 137 points in 1979-80 were tied with Wayne Gretzky for the most in the league and he won the Art Ross Trophy because he had more goals.
Dionne was traded to the New York Rangers during the 1986-87 season and remained with them until he retired in 1989. His 731 goals are the fifth-most in NHL history and he is one of only seven players to score at least 700 goals.
Gerry Geran was born in Holyoke, MA on Aug. 3, 1896. While he did not have the most memorable career, with just 37 games played in the league, he was a very important player in NHL history. When he took the ice for the Montreal Wanderers during the 1917-18 season, he became the first player born in the United States to play in an NHL game. He was also part of the 1920 US Olympic team that won the silver medal.
Other notable players born on this date include Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh (48), Dominic Moore (40), Jordan Leopold (40) and Ryan Carter (37).