Today in Hockey History: April 1

There is no fooling about how great April 1 has been throughout National Hockey League history. Over 100 years ago, the Stanley Cup was lost to a global pandemic, something we feared was going to happen in 2020. There were plenty of franchise firsts occurring on this day as well. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take us on our daily trip to enjoy all the moments from this date.

Stanley Cup Final Cancelled During Pandemic

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.

The Metropolitans were unable to try for their second Stanley Cup in three years. (THW Archives)

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.

Mike 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 his 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.

Franchise History is Made

Rick MacLeish became the first player in Philadelphia Flyers history to score 50 goals in a season, on April 1, 1973, during a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Goal No. 50 also made him just the second Flyer to have a 100-point season.

The 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.

Ken Dryden against Reggie Leach
Leach joined Esposito as the NHL’s only 60-goal scorers on April 1, 1976. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Liut became the first goaltender in St. Louis Blues history to have a 30-win season on April 1, 1980, with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Mike Zuke led the offense with three assists as the Blues became the second post-1967 expansion team to win 250 home games.

Bernie Nicholls scored a hat trick to give him 70 goals on the season and 300 in his career on April 1, 1989, in a 6-4 Los Angeles Kings’ win over the Canucks. The three goals included his eighth shorthanded tally of the season, setting a new team record. On the opposite side, Trevor Linden became the first Canucks’ rookie to score 30 goals in a season and finished the season with 59 points, one short of Ivan Hlinka’s team rookie record.

Staying in Vancouver on April 1, 1993, Pavel Bure had a goal and an assist to have the first 100-point season in team history during a 5-3 road win at the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also set a Canucks record with his seventh shorthanded goal of the season.

On that same night, Luc Robitaille set a Kings’ record for left wingers with his 57th goal and 112th point of the season, as the Kings won 3-1 over the Flyers. He broke the record of 56 goals set by Charlie Simmer.

Mike Richter picked up his ninth career shutout on April 1, 1994, to lead the New York Rangers to a 3-0 win over the visiting Dallas Stars. This was his 38th victory of the season, breaking Ed Giacomin’s 25-year-old team record for wins in a season.

Alex Ovechkin became the first player in Capitals history to skate in 1,000 NHL games on April 1, 2018, in a 3-1 road win at the Penguins. He was the 54th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games with one franchise from the start of his career.

Wayne Gretzky Does His Thing

On April 01, 1981, 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 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

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on April 1, 1952, to complete the sweep of their Stanley Cup Semifinal series. This marked the first time the Maple Leafs were knocked out of the playoffs with losses in four straight games.

On April 1, 1954, Gordie Howe scored the fastest goal in Stanley Cup playoffs history when he gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead over the Maple Leafs just nine seconds into the game. Howe finished his evening with two goals and an assist in a 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 Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Goalie Glenn Hall
Hall was an ironman and a legend. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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 became 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.

The Rangers fired head coach Michel Bergeron on April 1, 1989, with two games remaining in the regular season. General manager Phil Esposito moved behind the bench to take over for the rest of the season, but that didn’t turn out so well. After losing the final two regular-season games, New York is swept out of playoffs by the Penguins, and Esposito is fired shortly after.

Rookie Teemu Selanne scored twice to extend his goal streak to nine games on April 1, 1993, as he led the Winnipeg Jets to a 9-5 win versus the Sharks. He also had two assists to go along with his 72nd and 73rd goals of the 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 714 points.

Al Macinnis St Louis Blues
MacInnis made history 18 years ago today. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

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.

A year later, Ed Belfour became the seventh NHL goaltender to win 400 career regular-season games when Tomas Kaberle scored in overtime in the Maple Leafs 3-2 win at the New Jersey Devils.

Also, 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.

The Bruins become the first team in NHL history to play 30 overtime games in one regular season on April 1, 2004, with a 3-3 tie against the Capitals.

Four years later, the Buffalo Sabres become the second post-1967 expansion team to win 1,400 games by beating the Maple Leafs 4-3 in a shootout.

Sidney Crosby scored his 300th NHL goal on April 1, 2015, in the Penguins’ 4-1 loss to the Flyers. He’s the 18th active player to join the 300-club and 186th in league history.

The Tampa Bay Lightning became the third team in NHL history to win 60 games in a season on April 1, 2019, when they defeat the Ottawa Senators 5-2. The 1976-77 Canadiens were the first team to win 60 games, and the Red Wings won 62 games in 1995-96. Montreal was the only one of this trio to go and win the Stanley Cup.

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.

Scott Stevens
Few players were feared more than Stevens. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Other notable players who were born on April 1 include Darren McCarty (49), J.P. Dumont (43), Jussi Jokinen (38), Reilly Smith (30), Warren Foegele (25), Cody Glass (22) and late the Hall of Famer Ken Reardon.


Sign up for our regular 'Hockey History Newsletter' for all the best and most significant pieces from the THW Archives.