Fans in Pittsburgh were given two huge reasons to celebrate on this date over the years. Also, on June 12, two of the greatest players in National Hockey League history were bestowed big honors. Let’s hop inside the THW time machine and take a trip back through the years and relive all the best memories.
A Banner Day in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won five Stanley Cups in their franchise history, with two of those victories coming on this date. On June 12, 2009, they beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to win their first championship since 1992. They gained revenge on the Red Wings, who beat them in the 2008 Final.
Max Talbot scored both goals for the Penguins in the second period. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves, but none were bigger than the one he made against Nicklas Lidstrom just before time expired in the game.
The Penguins lost the first two games of both the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final before winning each series in seven games. They were the first time in the history of the league to accomplish that feat. Sidney Crosby, 21, was the youngest captain ever to accept the Cup at center ice.
Evgeni Malkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the postseason. He scored 14 goals and 36 points in 24 games during the 2009 playoffs.
Exactly seven years later, on June 12, 2016, Crosby met NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at center ice again to receive the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won their fourth championship in franchise history by beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the Final. Defenseman Kris Letang’s goal in the second period proves to be the game-winner. Pittsburgh allowed just 19 shots on goal, including only two in the third period.
Crosby, who had two assists on the night, won the Conn Smythe Trophy for scoring six goals and 19 points in the playoffs. Some felt Phil Kessel should have won the award after leading the Penguins with 10 goals and 22 points. Mike Sullivan became the sixth head coach to win the Stanley Cup after taking over a team mid-season.
Big Honors for a Pair of Legends
Gordie Howe is named captain of the Red Wings on June 12, 1958, taking over for Red Kelly. He wore the “C” on his sweater for the next four seasons. He turned it over to Alex Delvecchio when he was named an assistant coach prior to the 1961-62 season.
On June 12, 1979, Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr becomes the youngest player ever to be selected for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The mandatory three-year waiting period is waived for the 31-year-old, who retired in November of 1978. Henri Richard and Harry Howell were also part of the 1979 Hall of Fame class.
Before knee injuries limited him to just 36 games over the final three seasons of his career, Orr was arguably the greatest defenseman in NHL history. He is the only blueliner ever to lead the league in scoring, something he did twice, and he won every Norris Trophy for being voted the best defenseman in the game between 1968 and 1975.
The Coaching Shuffle Continues
Edmonton Oilers general manager Glen Sather stepped down as head coach on June 12, 1989, and named John Muckler as his replacement. Muckler won the Stanley Cup with the Oilers in his first of two seasons as head coach. He left the organization following the 1990-91 season and became the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.
Muckler also became the general manager of the Ottawa Senators, the sixth in franchise history, on this date in 2002. He presided over the most successful period in team history, getting them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. However, despite the success, he was fired just a few days after the Final ended and was replaced by Bryan Murray.
The Penguins made a pair of coaching changes on this date. On June 12, 1990, Bob Johnson was hired as the head coach, replacing Craig Patrick, and Scotty Bowman was named Director of Player Development and Recruitment. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in Johnson’s first season with the team. Unfortunately, that was his only full season in Pittsburgh. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in August of 1991 and was replaced by Bowman. Johnson passed away at age 60 the following November.
On June 12, 1997, the Penguins hired Kevin Constantine as their new head coach. He, once again, replaced Patrick, who was the general manager at the time and stepped in after firing Eddie Johnston late in the 1996-97 season. Constantine held onto the job until 25 games into the 1999-00 season, when he was fired and replaced by Herb Brooks.
The NHL announced its postseason award winners on June 12, 1978. Mike Bossy was named the winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie for the 1977-78 season. He became the third member of the New York Islanders in five years to win the Calder Trophy, joining Denis Potvin (1974) and Bryan Trottier (1976).
Other award winners for the 1977-78 season included Guy Lafleur with the Hart (league’s most valuable player) and Art Ross (leading scorer) Trophies, the Norris Trophy for Potvin with the Jack Adams Award (best coach) going to Bobby Kromm of the Red Wings. Ken Dryden and Michel Larocque of the Montreal Canadiens were given the Vezina Trophy. At this time, the Vezina was given to the goaltenders on the team with the best record and not as the goaltender voted as the best in the league like it is now.
The 1985 NHL awards were also given out on this date. Penguins star Mario Lemieux won the Calder Trophy after scoring 43 goals and 100 points during his rookie season. Wayne Gretzky won both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the most outstanding player as voted by the players. Paul Coffey won the Norris, the Vezina went to Pelle Lindbergh and his coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Keenan, took home the Jack Adams.
Odds & Ends
On June 12, 1968, the St. Louis Blues obtained veteran goaltender Jacques Plante from the New York Rangers in the NHL Intra-League Draft. Plante played in 69 games for the Blues over the next two seasons, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons at age 40 and 41.
One year later, the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft was held in Montreal. The Canadiens had the first two picks, and they selected Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif. The duo combined for 239 goals and 565 points in 879 games with the Canadiens. Other notable names from this draft class include Ivan Boldirev (11th, Bruins), Bobby Clarke (17th, Flyers), Gilles Gilbert (25th, Minnesota North Stars), and Butch Goring (51st, Los Angeles Kings).
The Bruins traded Derek Sanderson to the Rangers on June 12, 1974, in exchange for Walt McKechnie. Sanderson had a good first season in New York with 25 goals and 50 points. He was traded to the Blues eight games into the 1975-76 season. McKechnie had three goals and six points in 53 games in Boston. He was traded to the Red Wings before the end of his only season with the Bruins.
On June 12, 1989, the Red Wings signed veteran defenseman Borje Salming. He played in just 49 games during his only season with Detroit, his final in the NHL after 16 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Dallas Stars beat the Sabres 2-1 on June 12, 1999, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Joe Nieuwendyk scored both goals for the Stars, tying Joe Sakic’s record for the most game-winning goals in a single playoff, with six. Stu Barns opened the scoring for Buffalo in the second period before Nieuwendyk struck twice. He and Sakic shared their record until Brad Richards scored seven game-winning goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2004 playoffs.
Andrew Shaw’s shin pad ended the fifth-longest Stanley Cup Final game in history on June 12, 2013, as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Bruins 4-3, in the opening game of the series. At 12:08 of the third overtime, defenseman Michal Rozsival’s shot hit off the stick of Dave Bolland and then the leg of Shaw on its way past goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Bruins forward Jaromir Jagr made NHL history on this night. This was his first appearance in the Final since 1992, also against the Blackhawks as a member of the Penguins, which was the longest gap between two trips by any player. He was also the first player to ever play in the Final as both a teenager and a 40-year-old.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 16 players who have skated in at least one NHL game born on June 12. The most notable among the group are Doug Brown (57), Mathieu Schneider (52), Wade Redden (44), Ryan Kuffner (2), Gustav Forsling (25), and the late Hall of Famer Bill Cowley.
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.