Jan. 2 has been a very unique date in National Hockey League history. It has seen two legends of the game do their thing in five different decades. A pair of goaltenders accomplished an extremely rare feat and there were even a couple of outdoor games for good measure. Let’s fire up our hockey time machine for our daily trip through the decades.
Two Legends Appear in Five Decades
Gordie Howe became the first player in league history to play in five different decades, on Jan 2. 1980, in the Hartford Whalers’ 3-3 tie with the Edmonton Oilers. The 51-year-old forward debuted in 1946 and played with the Detroit Red Wings through the 1970-71 season. The World Hockey Association’s (WHA) merger allowed him to play one final season in the NHL and appear in the 1980s. It was rather appropriate that the Oilers were in town on this night, as he skated against Wayne Gretzky who eventually broke all his league scoring records.
Twenty years later, on Jan. 2, 2000, Scotty Bowman became the first head coach to be behind the bench in five different decades when his Red Wings lost 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He retired following the 2001-02 season and is still the NHL’s all-time leader in games coached (2,141), wins (1,244) and Stanley Cups (nine).
Who’s the Boss-y?
New York Islanders’ Hall of Famer Mike Bossy definitely enjoyed lacing up his skates on this date during his career. In 1979, he scored his fourth career hat trick to help extend the team’s home unbeaten streak to 19 straight games (15-0-4) with a 9-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bryan Trottier picked up four assists in the game while goaltender Glenn Resch recorded the 18th shutout of his career.
The following year, on Jan. 2, 1980, Bossy began a team-record 18-game point streak with a goal in the Islanders’ 3-1 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored 17 goals and 27 points during this streak that lasted until Feb. 7, 1980.
His biggest achievement came on Jan. 2, 1986, when scored a pair of goals in a 7-5 victory over the Boston Bruins. His empty-net tally in the final seconds of the game gave him 500 goals in his career. He was the 11th player in league history to join the 500-goal club and the first Islander to do it. He needed just 647 to accomplish this feat, which was the fastest anyone had ever scored 500 goals. He didn’t get to hold on to this record very long as Gretzky scored his 500th goal in just his 575th game on Nov. 22, 1986.
Two Goaltending Rarities
Damian Rhodes became the first goaltender to ever earn a shutout and score a goal in the same game, on Jan. 2, 1999, in the Ottawa Senators 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. In the first period, he was the last Ottawa player to touch the puck before Devils’ defenseman Lyle Odelein accidentally shot the puck into his vacated net during a delayed penalty. Rhodes went on to make 30 saves to pick up the shutout and make NHL history.
Jose Theodore matched Rhodes’ performance, exactly two years later, on Jan. 2, 2001, in the Montreal Canadiens’ 3-0 win at the Islanders. The biggest difference was that Theodore shot the puck into the net for his goal. In the final seconds of the game, after making 32 saves, he fired a backhand shot into the empty Islanders’ net after John Vanbiesbrouck was pulled for an extra attacker.
Plenty of Personal Milestones
Wayne Cashman scored his 250th career NHL goal, on Jan. 2, 1981, and added an assist in the Boston Bruins’ 7-5 loss at the Oilers. He was the fifth player to ever score 250 goals as a member of the Bruins.
One year later, on Jan. 2, 1982, Mike Gartner scored twice to give him 100 career goals as the Washington Capitals beat the visiting Canucks 5-2. He became the second player to score 100 goals in a Capitals uniform.
Jari Kurri scored a goal and added two assists, on Jan. 2, 1990, to lead the Oilers to a 6-4 win at the St. Louis Blues. The three-point night gave him 1,000 career points, making him the 25th player, and second born in Europe, to hit this milestone in league history. Goaltender Curtis Joseph made his NHL debut on the losing side.
Tom Barrasso became the first goaltender to record 100 victories as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Jan. 2, 1993, with a 5-2 win over the visiting New York Rangers.
Brett Hull scored his 24th goal of the season, on Jan. 2, 1994, during the Blues’ 4-3 over his former team, the Calgary Flames. This gave him 353 goals with St. Louis, passing Bernie Federko for the most in franchise history. It was also his 600th NHL point.
Theo Fleury scored his ninth career hat trick and added an assist, on Jan. 2, 1996, in the Flames’ 10-0 blowout of the Tampa Bay Lighting. This gave him 250 goals with Calgary, just the second player in team history to do so.
Brian Bellows scored a goal and added an assist for his 1,000th career point, on Jan. 2, 1999, in the Capitals’ 5-2 win at Toronto.
Ron Francis hit a pair of personal milestones, on Jan. 2, 2002, in the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 loss to the Bruins. He scored his 500th career goal while playing in his 1,000th game for the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise. He joined Gretzky, Howe, Mark Messier and Marcel Dionne as the only players in league history to have 500 goals and 1,000 assists.
A Huge Night in 1997
Something was in the air, on Jan. 2, 1997, as a handful of great players put up memorable performances.
Starting in New York, where Messier scored twice to move ahead of Guy Lafleur for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list with 561. He also had an assist in the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Goaltender Mike Richter extended his personal unbeaten streak to 14 games (13-0-1).
Across the Hudson River, in New Jersey, Mario Lemieux had four assists in the Penguins’ 6-1 victory over the Devils. Rookie goaltender Patrick Lalime improved his record to 8-0-1 on the season.
Joe Sakic set up two goals to give him 500 assists and 800 points in his career as the Colorado Avalanche beat the visiting Flames 3-2.
Finally, on the west coast, Rod Brind’Amour scored his 200th NHL goal as the Philadelphia Flyers earned a 4-1 road win at the San Jose Sharks. The victory extended the Flyers’ unbeaten streak to 15 straight games (13-0-2)
Odds & Ends
Rick Vaive scored four goals, including his third career hat trick, on Jan. 2, 1983, to lead the Maple Leafs to a 6-3 win over the Red Wings. Dan Daoust tied a team rookie-record with four assists in the winning effort.
Speaking of rookie records, on Jan. 2, 1989, Craig Janney tied a Bruins rookie-record with four assists in an 8-7 win over St. Louis at the Boston Garden.
Lemieux had a goal and an assist, on Jan. 2, 1990, in the Penguins 5-2 loss to the Bruins. He tied his own team record he set four years earlier by extending his personal point streak to 28 straight games, the fourth-longest in NHL history.
The Flames and Maple Leafs pulled off a blockbuster trade, on Jan. 2, 1992, as Calgary sent Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville to Toronto for Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Craig Berube, Jeff Reese and Alexander Godynyuk. Gilmour was the centerpiece of the trade. He went on to score 131 goals and 452 points, in 393 games for the Leafs, before being moved to the Devils in 1997.
Marian Hossa scored a team-record four goals, including three straight in the first period, on Jan. 2, 2003, to lead the Senators to an 8-1 win over the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. He also had an assist in the game and became the first player in Ottawa franchise history to score three hat tricks in the same season.
The Red Wings retired Steve Yzerman’s No. 19, on Jan. 2, 2007, just a few months after his legendary career ended. He spent his entire 22-season NHL career in Detroit and captained them to three Stanley Cup championships. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (1,063), second in goals (692) and points (1,755) and fourth in games played (1,514).
The Rangers beat the Flyers 3-2, on Jan. 2, 2012, in the Winter Classic played at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Michael Rupp scored a pair of goals to erase the Flyers’ 2-0 lead before Brad Richards scored the game-winning goal early in the third period. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist came up big with 34 saves including stopping a Daniel Briere penalty shot attempt with just 19.8 seconds left to play.
On Jan. 2, 2017, the Blues hosted the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in the annual Winter Classic. The two longtime rivals entered the third period tied at 1-1 after goals by Michal Kempny and Patrik Berglund. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals just 1:52 apart in the third period before Alexander Steen’s empty-net goal sealed a 4-1 victory for the home team.
Happy Birthday to You
A large group of 29 players who have skated at least one game in the NHL was born on Jan. 2. The most recognizable names of this lot include Rick Tabaracci (51), Robert Svehla (51), Mattias Norstrom (48), Brian Boucher (43), Zenon Konopka (39), Andrew Ebbett (37) and the late Hall of Famer Harry Hyland.