Today’s date is one of firsts throughout National Hockey League history. It has given plenty of new marks in both the regular season and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the decades.
Gretzky Does the Unthinkable
On March 25, 1982, Wayne Gretzky accomplished something many thought could never be done; score 200 points in a season. He entered the game against the Calgary Flames with 199 points. Early in the first period, he assisted on Pat Hughes’ goal to become the first player to ever hit the 200-point plateau.
Gretzky was far from done that evening as he picked up another assist later in the first period. In the second period, he set another NHL record by scoring two shorthanded goals just 27 seconds apart.
The Great One finished the season with 212 points. He scored 196 points the following season before having three straight seasons with over 200 points. He scored 205 in 1983-84, 208 in 1984-85 and a record 215 in 1985-86. He remains the only player to score 200 points in a single season. Mario Lemieux was the closest to ever hit that mark when he scored 199 points during the 1988-89 season.
Stanley Cup Playoff Firsts
On March 25, 1924, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Calgary Tigers 3-0 to win the Stanley Cup. Legendary goaltender Georges Vezina picked up the shutout as the Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup since the formation of the NHL in 1917.
Nick Metz made Stanley Cup playoffs history on March 25, 1941. He picked up three assists during the second period of the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. He became the first player to have three assists in a postseason game. Metz also scored a goal for good measure.
Exactly two years later, Harvey “Busher” Jackson scored the first shorthanded overtime goal in Stanley Cup playoff history. The historic goal game 3:20 into overtime and gave the Bruins a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals over the Canadiens.
On March 25, 1954, Dickie Moore had a huge night for the Canadiens in their 8-1 win over the Bruins. Moore scored two goals and picked up four assists to become the first player to have six points in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.
That record stood for 29 years until Gretzky scored four goals and seven points against the Flames in 1983. Lemieux and Patrik Sundstrom share the record for the most points in a playoff game with eight.
On March 25, 1951, Alex Delvecchio played in his first NHL game as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Canadiens 5-0. He would end up becoming one of the greatest players in franchise history by scoring 456 goals and 1,281 points in 1,550 games. He was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams and won the Lady Bing Trophy three times. With the win that night, the Red Wings became the first team to reach 100 points in a season.
The Canadiens’ 8-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on March 25, 1980, saw a pair of NHL firsts. Steve Schutt became the first player to ever score a goal against 20 teams in one season with his first-period tally. Also, Pierre Laroche scored a pair of goals to hit 50 on the season and become the first player in league history to score 50 goals for two different teams. He scored 53 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1975-76 season.
On March 25, 1995, Scotty Bowman became the first coach in NHL history to win 900 regular-season games when he led the Red Wings over the Vancouver Canucks. He finished his legendary career with 1,244 wins, which is still the all-time record. Current Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville is the only other coach to win 900 games as he is second all-time with 925 wins and counting.
A Big Date for the Golden Jet
Bobby Hull has a statue sitting outside the United Center in Chicago. You don’t get immortalized in bronze unless you accomplished some incredible things during your playing career. On March 25, 1962, Hull became the third player on NHL history to score 50 goals in a season with a goal against the New York Rangers. He joined Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion as the only players to have 50-goal seasons.
Hull made more history a decade later with a goal in the old Boston Garden. He tied the game with just 2:26 remained to join Gordie Howe as the only players to score 600 goals. Since then, 18 more players have joined the 600-goal club.
Happy Birthday to You
Fittingly, 25 total players who have skated in the NHL are celebrating birthdays today. Among the most notable are Lance Bouma (30), Brendan Gaunce (26), Ben Gleason (22) as well as the late Bill Barilko.