Today in Hockey History: Jan. 9

One of the greatest goal-scorers in the history of the National Hockey League laced up his skates one final time on this date. Plus, Jan. 9 was a big night for memorable shutouts and we had plenty of moments from the early years of the league. Let’s take our daily trip back through the years of the game’s glorious history.

Esposito Plays His Final Game

The great Phil Esposito played his final game in the NHL, on Jan. 9, 1981, as the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres skated to a 3-3 tie. He picked up the 873rd and final assist on Dean Talafous’ first-period goal.

Esposito retired with 717 goals and 1,590 points in 1,282 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Rangers. At the time, he was just second behind Gordie Howe in both categories. He has since dropped to sixth all-time in goals and 10th in points. There is a very good chance he gets knocked down to seventh in goals as Alex Ovechkin enters the 2020-21 season with 706 goals.

All About the Shutout

Dominik Hasek made 21 saves, on Jan. 9, 1992, as he earned his first career shutout in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. This was his one and only shutout, in 25 games, with Chicago. He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in August of 1992 because the Blackhawks also had a young goaltender named Ed Belfour on the roster. The fourth-round pick they received turned into Eric Daze, who scored 226 goals and 398 points in 601 games for the Blackhawks. Hasek retired for good in 2008 with 81 career shutouts.

Brian Boucher picked up his fifth straight shutout, on Jan. 9, 2004, by making 21 saves in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 2-0 win at Minnesota. He broke the modern-era NHL record of four straight shutouts set by the Montreal Canadiens’ Bill Durnan in 1949. His shutout streak ended in the very next game when Randy Robitaille scored the only goal in a 1-1 tie with the Atlanta Thrashers. Boucher went 332:01 between goals allowed.

Miikka Kiprusoff picked up his 22nd career shutout, on Jan. 9, 2007, as the Calgary Flames 3-0 win over the Wild. He also became the first Finnish-born goaltender in NHL history to win 100 games. He retired with 319 wins which are the second-most for a netminder born in Finland, behind only Pekka Rinne.

Old School Memories

When the NHL started the inaugural 1917-18 season, it was illegal for a goaltender to leave their feet while making a save. Any infraction led to a minor penalty. On Jan. 9, 1918, the league changed this rule less than three weeks after the season began. While the rule was in place, teams combined for 12.2 goals per game. After the change, goals go down to 8.9 per night.

The Bruins set an NHL record, on Jan. 9, 1930, by winning their 14th straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. This remains the league record until the New York Islanders won 15 games in a row during the 1981-82 season.

Johnny Gottselig became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in a game and account for all the goals scored by his team, on Jan. 9, 1936, in the Blackhawks in a 4-1 win at the New York Americans.

Bert Olmstead had a huge night, on Jan. 9, 1954, when he put up eight points in the Canadiens’ 12-1 blow out of the Blackhawks. His four goals and four assists tie the NHL record for the most points in a single game which was set by his teammate Maurice Richard in 1944.

Four years later, on Jan. 9, 1958, Olmstead had a goal and four assists in another big win over the Blackhawks. Bernie Geoffrion had a hat trick and two assists in the Habs’ 11-2 victory.

Odds & Ends

Two of the greatest players to ever play for the Blackhawks had big nights, on Jan. 9, 1965, in a 7-4 win over the Red Wings. Bobby Hull scored twice to give him 259 goals, the most in franchise history. Stan Mikita chipped in with a goal and three assists.

On Jan. 9, 1980, Rick Martin became the first player in Sabres team history to score 350 career NHL goals, as Buffalo beat the visiting Islanders 3-2.

Wayne Gretzky scored a goal and added four assists, on Jan. 9, 1982, as the Edmonton Oilers won 7-2 over the rival Flames.

One year later, on Jan. 9, 1983, Reed Larson tied a Red Wings’ record for most assists by a defenseman in one game, with four in Detroit’s 4-3 win at the Oilers.

Cam Neely scored two goals and added two assists, on Jan. 9, 1992, in the Bruins 5-4 win over the Quebec Nordiques. This extended their undefeated streak versus the Nordiques at the Boston Garden to 18 straight games (14-0-4).

Cam Neely
Neely had four points on this night in 1992. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ric Nattress scored two goals, on Jan. 9, 1993, to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 win over the Rangers. The victory made the Flyers the first post-1967 expansion team to win 1,000 games. On the losing side, Mike Gartner became the first player in NHL history to get 25 goals in each of his first 14 seasons, when he scored twice for the Rangers.

Joel Quenneville recorded his first win as an NHL head coach, on Jan. 9, 1997, in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 win at the San Jose Sharks. He enters his second season with the Florida Panthers with 925 career wins, the second-most in league history.

Dale Hunter recorded three assists, on Jan. 9, 1998, to give him 1,000 career NHL points in the Washington Capitals’ 4-1 win over the visiting Flyers. He became the first NHL player to collect 1,000 points and 3,000 career penalty minutes.

On Jan. 9, 2003, Jeremy Roenick became the sixth U.S.-born player in league history, and the 60th overall, to rack up 600 career assists. Roman Checmanek earned his 15th career shutout in a 4-0 road win at the Islanders.

Exactly one year later, the Capitals recorded the 1,000th regular-season victory in the franchise’s 30-year history by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Washington became the 16th NHL team to win 1,000 games.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 27 players who have skated in at least one NHL game were born on this date. Among the Jan. 9 birthday boys are Dave McLlwain (54), Scott Pellerin (51), Scott Thornton (50) Anders Eriksson (46), Radek Bonk (45), Jack Campbell (29) and Radek Faksa (27).

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