A lot of names that you would see while touring the Hockey Hall of Fame had big moments on Jan. 8. A pair of all-time greats made their National Hockey League debuts, some impressive streaks were extended and the year 2000 gave us quite the evening on this date. Let’s fire our daily hockey time machine and take a trip back.
Big Bird’s Big Day
Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson played in 1,384 games during his 20-season NHL career. He suited up for the first time, on Jan. 8. 1973, in the Montreal Canadiens 3-3 tie with the Minnesota North Stars. As is the case with many young players, Robinson was slotted into the lineup due to injures and stayed there for the next 17 seasons before moving on to the Los Angeles Kings.
Exactly 13 years later, on Jan. 8, 1986, Robinson picked up three assists in the Habs’ 5-3 victory over the rival Boston Bruins.
Now with the Kings, on Jan. 7, 1991, Robinson became the 13th player in NHL history to play in 1,300 games as Los Angeles beat the Hartford Whalers 4-3 in overtime.
Hall of Fame Milestones
Robinson is far from the only member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who can look back on this date fondly. On Jan. 8, 1944, Babe Pratt became the first defenseman in league history to get six assists in a single game. He set up half of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goals in a 12-3 blowout of the Bruins.
Jean Beliveau picked up the 300th assist of his great career, on Jan. 8, 1961, as the Canadiens lost to the New York Rangers 4-2, at Madison Square Garden.
Mario Lemieux scored four goals, on Jan. 8, 1990, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-5 win over the Rangers. His 24th career hat trick extended his personal point streak to 31 games. This streak continued until it hit the 46-game mark and only ended due to Lemieux missing a game due to a bad back.
Defenseman Al MacInnis recorded two assists, on Jan. 8, 1991, in the Calgary Flames’ 5-3 win at Toronto. This gave him 562 points to pass Kent Nilsson to become the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. Exactly one year later, MacInnis had four assists in the Flames’ 10-3 defeat of the San Jose Sharks.
Also, on this date in 1992, Brett Hull scored his 15th career hat trick, and added an assist, to extend his goal-scoring streak to 10 straight games as the St. Louis Blues beat the Rangers 5-3.
Goaltender Terry Sawchuk made his NHL debut for the Detroit Red Wings, on Jan. 8, 1950, as he came in to replace the injured Harry Lumley. The Red Wings lose on this night to the Bruins 4-3. Sawchuk started the next seven games for Detroit, winning three of them before Lumley returned to the crease. He won the starting job at the start of the following season.
Mark Howe earned his 1,200th career professional point, on Jan. 8, 1993, in a 6-3 Red Wings’ win over the Vancouver Canucks. He had 696 NHL points and another 504 in the World Hockey Association (WHA), more than any other defenseman in pro hockey history.
One year later, on Jan. 8, 1994, Dino Ciccarelli became the 19th player in NHL history to score 500 goals. He also added an assist to lead the Red Wings to a 6-3 road win at the Kings.
Chris Chelios made history, on Jan. 8, 2008, during the Red Wings’ 1-0 win versus the Colorado Avalanche. At 45 years and 348 days old, he became the second-old player to ever appear in an NHL game. The only player to ever play in a league game older than Chelios was Gordie Howe for the Whalers, in 1980, at the age of 52. Another aging super, Dominik Hasek, who was three weeks shy of his 43rd birthday, made 19 saves for the shutout.
A Big Night in 2000
This first Jan. 8 of the 21st century proved to be quite the eventful night. First, in Philadelphia, the Flyers scored three goals in a span of 3:22 of the opening period with a 6-2 win over the visiting Penguins. The win extended their home unbeaten streak to 15 games (12-0-3) and it was also the 350th in the career of goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck.
The Buffalo Sabres got a big performance out of Miroslav Satan, as he scored his third career hat trick and also added two assists in a 7-4 road win at the Ottawa Senators.
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, defenseman Larry Murphy picked up his 901st career assist in the Red Wings’ 5-3 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. This moved him ahead of New York Islanders’ great Bryan Trottier for 10th place in all-time NHL assists.
Finally, in St. Louis, Pierre Turgeon scored twice to give him 20 goals on the season, for the 12th straight year, in a 4-2 Blues win over the Canucks. This was the Blues’ 11th consecutive victory over Vancouver.
Odds & Ends
Howie Meeker scored five goals, on Jan. 8, 1947, in the Maple Leafs 10-4 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks. His five goals set an NHL record for the most scored in a single game by a rookie.
Butch Goring became the fourth player to score 100 career goals with the Kings, on Jan. 8, 1975, then added another goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over the North Stars. Exactly 10 years later, Goring was placed on waivers by the Islanders and claimed by the Bruins. He played the final 39 games of his career with Boston, scoring 13 goals and 34 points.
In a game the featured numerous future Hall of Famers, on Jan. 8, 1986, it was Miroslav Frycer who was the star in the Maple Leafs’ 11-9 defeat of the Edmonton Oilers. He scored four goals including the game-winner in the third period. Wayne Gretzky had a hat trick and three assists and Jari Kurri had a goal and five assists, but their six-point nights were not enough.
Dallas Stars general manager Bob Gainey gave up his coaching duties, on Jan. 8, 1996, and named Ken Hitchcock as the new head coach. Hitchcock won 319 games in Dallas and took the Stars to the back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and 2000, winning it all in 1999.
Mats Sundin scored twice in the third period, on Jan. 8, 2002, to give him 25 goals for the 10th season in his career, during a 4-3 Maple Leafs’ win over the visiting Nashville Predators.
One year later, on Jan. 8, 2003, rookie goaltenders Michael Leighton and Zac Bierk dueled in a scoreless draw between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes. This was the first time in NHL history that two goalies recorded their first career shutouts in the same game
Nathan Horton scored on a penalty shot, on Jan. 8, 2004, to help the Panthers beat the Flyers 4-3, in overtime. At 18 years and 224 days old, he became the youngest player in league history to score a penalty-shot goal when he beat goaltender Jeff Hackett early in the second period.
The Tampa Bay Lightning snapped their 10-game losing streak, on Jan. 8, 2010, by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2. This victory came over 48 hours after the opening faceoff. Two nights earlier, the Bolts held a 3-0 lead just past the midway point of the second period when the lights at the Prudential Center went out, causing the two teams to come back on this date to finish.
Tuukka Rask made 24 saves, on Jan. 8, 2019, to lead the Bruins to a 4-0 win against the Minnesota. He joined Pekke Rinne, Miikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen as the only Finnish-born goaltenders to have 250 career NHL victories.
On that same night, Erik Karlsson had three assists in the Sharks’ 7-2 victory over the Oilers. He became the first defenseman since Hall of Famer Phil Housley in the 1992-93 season to have assists in the 14 straight games.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 20 current and former NHL players have been born on Jan. 8. The most notable of the bunch are Ron Ellis (76), Marian Stastny (68), Garth Butcher (58), Jon Klemm (51), Darren Langdon (50), Trevor Lewis (34), Joakim Nygard (28), William Karlsson (28) and Max Comtois (22).
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.