June 11 has been a very exciting day in National Hockey League history. One franchise’s 45-year wait to wear the crown finally came to an end, while another team returned to championship series for the first time in a long time. This date also gave us the first repeat champions we’d seen in nearly two decades as well as four different NHL Drafts.
Kings Finally Take the Throne
It took them 45 years to reach the top of the mountain, but, on June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings finally won their first championship. They beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, to become the first eight seed to win it all.
The Kings took control of the game after Devils winger Steve Bernier was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding, midway through the first period. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis all scored on the ensuing five-minute power play to build a 3-0 lead. Carter and Lewis both added second goals before Matt Greene capped off the scoring late in the third period.
Their run to the Stanley Cup was one of the most dominant and surprising in recent history. The Kings became the first two teams to defeat the top three teams in its conference in the same playoff year. They were also the first team to ever take a 3-0 lead in all four of its playoff series.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being voted the most valuable player of the playoffs. He went 16-4 with a sterling .946 save percentage and 1.41 goals-against average to go along with three shutouts.
Two years later, the Kings were back in the championship series, but the result was not quite the same. On June 11. 2014, the New York Rangers avoided getting swept by beating the Kings 2-1, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings outshoot the Rangers 41-19, but only Brown can get a shot past Henrik Lundqvist. Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis score for the Rangers to send the series back to Los Angeles.
Wings’ Winning Ways
The Detroit Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1966, on June 11, 1995, with 2-1 double-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Vyacheslav Kozlov scored at 2:25 of the second overtime to clinch the series for the Red Wings. It was his eighth goal of the playoffs and fourth game-winner.
Kris Draper was the hero in Detroit, three years later, on June 11, 1998. He scored in overtime to give the Red Wings a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Martin Lapointe and Doug Brown score in the third period to help erase a 4-2 Capitals’ lead and force overtime. Draper’s goal gave the Red Wings a 2-0 series lead and their sixth straight win in the Final after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.
It’s Sweet to Repeat
On June 11, 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators 2-0, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, to win their second straight championship. They became the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since the 1997 and 1998 Red Wings. Former Predator Patric Hornqvist broke the scoreless tie with just 1:35 left in the third period.
Carl Hagelin iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the game. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second straight season. He had 9 goals and 27 points in 18 goals.
Four different NHL drafts were held on this date over the years. On June 11, 1964, the league’s “Original Six” teams gathered in Montreal for the Amateur Draft. The biggest pick of the draft came in the fourth round when the Boston Bruins selected 16-year-old goaltender Ken Dryden. After he let the Bruins know that he fully intended on getting his degree from Cornell University before turning pro, Dryden was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Paul Reid and Guy Allen.
Dryden finally made his professional debut for the Canadiens on March 20, 1971. He played seven full seasons and part of an eighth, earning a Conn Smythe Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy (best rookie), five Vezina Trophies (best goaltender), five All-Star Game appearances, five First All-Star awards and six Stanley Cups.
The Buffalo Sabres had the first pick of the NHL Amateur Draft, on June 11, 1970, and they used it to select Gilbert Perreault. He played 17 seasons with the Sabres, scoring 512 goals and 1326 points in 1191 career games. The Vancouver Canucks, the other expansion team in 1970, selected defenseman Dale Tallon with the second pick.
Other notable players selected in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft included Reggie Leach (4th, Boston Bruins), Rick MacLeish (5th, Bruins), Darryl Sittler (8th, Toronto Maple Leafs), Bill Clement (18th, Flyers), Yvon Lambert (40th, Red Wings), Billy Smith (59th, Kings) and Gilles Meloche (70th, Blackhawks).
The NHL Entry Draft was held in Montreal, on June 11, 1980, and the Canadiens used the first overall pick to select Doug Wickenheiser. He played in only 202 games with the Canadiens, scoring 49 goals and 115 points. In 1983, he was traded to the Blues with Gilbert Delorme and Greg Paslawski for Perry Turnbull.
The Canadiens missed out by taking Wickenheiser over such other players as Dave Babych (2nd, Winnipeg Jets), Denis Savard (3rd, Blackhawks), Larry Murphy (4th, Kings) or Paul Coffey (6th, Edmonton Oilers).
Some other notable picks from this draft included Brent Sutter (17th, New York Islanders), Don Beaupre (37th, Minnesota North Stars), Kelly Hrudey (38th, Islanders), Troy Murray (57th, Blackhawks), Jari Kurri (69h, Oilers), Bernie Nichols (73rd, Kings), Basil McRae (87th, Quebec Nordiques), Steve Larmer (120th, Blackhawks) and Andy Moog (132nd, Oilers).
Eight year later, on June 11, 1988, the league was back in Montreal for the Entry Draft. The North Stars used the first overall pick to draft Mike Modano, who became the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history with 561 goals and 1374 points. He played all but one of his 21 seasons with the Stars organization, four in Minnesota and 16 in Dallas.
Others selected in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft included Trevor Linden (2nd, Canucks), Martin Gelinas (7th, Kings), Jeremy Roenick (8th, Blackhawks), Rod Brind’Amour (9th, Blues), Teemu Selanne (10th, Jets), Tie Domi (27th, Maple Leafs), Mark Recchi (67th, Penguins), Tony Amonte (68th, Rangers), Rob Blake (70th, Kings) and Alexander Mogilny (89th, Sabres).
Odds & Ends
Speaking of drafts, the Blackhawks made a franchise-altering pick during the annual Intra-League Draft on June 11, 1969. They paid $25,000 to claim rookie goaltender Tony Esposito from the Canadiens. The following season, Esposito won a career-high 38 games, set an NHL record with 15 shutouts and won both the Calder and Vezina Trophies. He still leads the franchise with 873 games played, 418 wins and 74 shutouts.
On June 11, 1974, the NHL announced that the league would expand to 18 teams. Both the Capitals and Kansas City Scouts were officially granted franchises and they began play in the 1974-75 season. The Scouts lasted just two seasons in Kansas City before heading west in 1976 to become the Colorado Rockies. The franchise moved again following the 1981-82 season and became the Devils.
Also, on this date in 1974, the league announced its postseason award winners. Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin was given the Calder Trophy. Phil Esposito of the Bruins took home both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies for being the most valuable player and leading scorer of the 1973-74 season. His brother Tony tied with Bernie Parent of the Flyers for the Vezina Trophy. Fred Shero of the Flyers won the Jack Adams Award for being the top coach of the season.
Scotty Bowman was hired as the Sabres new general manager and head coach on June 11, 1979. He replaced both acting general manager John Anderson and head coach Bill Inglis. He remained as the team’s general manager until 1987 and had three different stints as head coach. The 1985-86 season was the only time he missed the playoffs during his coaching career.
The Canucks beat the Rangers 4-1, on June 11, 1994, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Jeff Brown and Geoff Courtnall both scored a pair of the goals in the victory. This was the Canucks second straight win to force a seventh and final game back in New York and was their first-ever home win in the Final.
The Devils beat the Flyers 3-2, on June 11, 1995, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Claude Lemieux scored with just 45 seconds left in regulation to break the tie and give the Devils a 3-2 series lead. The Devils set an NHL record with their eighth road win of the 1995 postseason.
On June 11, 2003, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its newest members: Grant Fuhr, Pat LaFontaine, Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and junior team coach Brian Kilrea.
One that same day, the Penguins named 36-year-old Eddie Olczyk as their new head coach, replacing Rick Kehoe, who had been fired two months earlier. He was let go just 31 games into the 2004-05 season after compiling a 31-64-8 record.
Happy Birthday to You
There is a small group of 16 players who have skated in the NHL born on this date. The most recognizable names are Scott Mellanby (54), Kip Miller (51), Derek MacKenzie (39) and the late Frank Fredrickson and Hec Kilrea.