As we await a decision on whether or not the 2019-20 NHL season will continue or not, 101 years ago today, the Stanley Cup was not awarded under very similar circumstances. Also, one of the best players of the 1980s started a historic streak on this date and one of the toughest guys to ever play in the National Hockey League is celebrating a birthday.
Stanley Cup Final Cancelled During Epidemic
In a scenario that is starting to sound very familiar, on April 1, 1919, the sixth and final game of the Stanley Cup Final was canceled because of an influenza epidemic. The series was a rematch of the 1917 Stanley Cup Final between the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.
The Metropolitans won Games 1 and 3 before Game 4 was considered a tie after no goals scored through two overtime periods. The Canadiens won Game 5 in overtime to even up the series a 2-2-1. Game 6 was canceled less than six hours before it was scheduled to begin as multiple players on both teams became ill. Canadiens player Joe Hall died of pneumonia brought on by the flu, four days later.
Originally the Canadiens wanted to forfeit the Cup to Seattle because they couldn’t dress a full lineup, but the manager-coach of the Metropolitans, Pete Muldoon, refused to accept it because the illness caused the shortage of players. No winner was ever declared, marking this as the only time the Stanley Cup was not rewarded after the playoffs had begun.
Bossy’s Streak Begins
On April 1, 1978, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders became the first rookie in NHL history to score 50 goals with a pair of tallies against the Washington Capitals. This started a streak of nine consecutive seasons with at least 50 goals. He had 60 or more goals in five of those seasons. His streak is still a record today.
In fact, the only season of career where he didn’t have at least 50 goals was his final one in 1986-87. A back injury limited Bossy to just 63 games, but he still managed to score 38 goals. He decided to take the 1987-88 season off to try different treatments on his declining back but nothing worked. He officially retired in October of 1988 at the age of 31.
Flyers Make Franchise History
The Philadelphia Flyers played a historic game on April 1, 1976, when they beat the Capitals 11-2. Reggie Leach scored twice for his 59th and 60th goals of the season. He joined Phil Esposito as the only player in league history to score 60 goals in a single season.
Three franchise records were set in the blowout victory. First, it was the team’s 19th straight win on home ice. Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke had five assists in the game to set a new team record. Finally, the Flyers’ 62 shots on goal were the most they had ever posted in a single game.
Gretzky Does His Thing
On April 01, 1981, Wayne Gretzky broke Bobby Orr’s single-season record for assists, with his 103rd and 104th of the season, in a 4-4 Edmonton Oilers’ tie against the Colorado Rockies. Gretzky finished the season with a new NHL record of 109 assists. He and Orr remain the only two players to have 100 assists in a season in NHL history, but Gretzky did it 12 times in his career.
Seven years later, he became the first player in NHL history to record 1,200 career assists, when he picked up three as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-4. He finished his legendary career with 1,963 assists. Ron Francis is the only other player in league history to hit the 1200 plateau.
Odds & Ends
On April 1, 1954, Gordie Howe scored the fastest goal in Stanley Cup playoffs history when he gave the Detroit Red Wings a 1-0 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs just nine seconds into the game. Howe finished his evening with two goals and an assist in 4-3 double-overtime win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall recorded his first career playoff shutout, on April 1, 1961, to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. He didn’t wait very long for his second shutout as he blanked the Canadiens 3-0, three days later, to help the Chicago Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
On April 1, 1988, Joe Mullen scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark, giving the Calgary Flames four 40-goal scorers on the season. Mullen joined Joe Nieuwendyk, Hakan Loob and Mike Bullard in the 40-goal club. The Flames become just the second time in NHL history to have four 40-goal scorers after Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson did it for the Oiler the previous season.
Al MacInnis had two assists for the St. Louis Blues, on April 1, 2002, to become just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to record 1,200 career points. No other defenseman has joined the 1,200-point club since and it will be some time before another one does. Brent Burns is the highest-scoring active defenseman with 694 points.
On that same day, Ken Daneyko of the New Jersey Devils set an NHL record when his goal drought is extended to 246 games, the longest in league history. Daneyko broke the mark of 245 straight games without a goal set by Rich Pilon.
On April 01, 2003, Marian Hossa scored twice to set an Ottawa Senators team record for most goals in a season, in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Boston Bruins. Hossa’s second goal of the night gave him 45 for the year, one more than Alexei Yashin had in 1998-99. The record stood for two years before Dany Heatley scored 50 goals during the 2004-05 season.
Happy Birthday to You
Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens is celebrating his 56th birthday today. While Stevens had the offensive skill on the back end, he will always be remembered for his physical style of play and body checks. He walked the fine line between being considered a tough guy or a dirty player. When he retired, he led the NHL in games played; a record that was eventually broken by Chris Chelios.
Other notable players who were born on April 1 include Darren McCarty (48), J.P. Dumont (42), Jussi Jokinen (37), Reilly Smith (29), Warren Foegele (24), Cody Glass (21) and late the Hall of Famer Ken Reardon.