June 8 is mostly remembered for two things; plenty of Stanley Cup Final action and multiple coaching changes. Also, one of the most memorable Entry Drafts in National Hockey League history took place on this date.
Stanley Cup Final Moments
The Florida Panthers hosted their first-ever Stanley Cup Final game on June 8, 1996. Ray Sheppard caused thousands of plastic rats to rain down on the ice by scoring halfway through the first period, to tie the Colorado Avalanche at 1-1.
Rob Niedermayer gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead two minutes later. The Avalanche got second-period goals from Mike Keane and Joe Sakic to lead them to a 3-2 victory and a 3-0 lead in the series. Sakic’s goal was his sixth game-winning goal of the 1996 postseason, a new NHL record.
The Dallas Stars hosted the Buffalo Sabres, on June 8, 1999, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Brett Hull’s power-play goal opened the scoring midway through the first period. Stu Barnes and Wayne Primeau scored five minutes apart, in the third period, to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead. Jere Lehtinen forced overtime by scoring with just 49 seconds left in regulation. Jason Woolley scored at 15:30 of the extra time to become the first Sabres’ defenseman to ever score a playoff overtime goal.
Exactly one year later, the Stars were at the New Jersey Devils for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Modano helped the Stars fend off elimination with a goal in the third overtime to give them a 1-0 victory. Goaltender Ed Belfour made 48 saves to win the longest 1-0 game in Final history.
The Detroit Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in triple overtime, on June 8, 2002, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Igor Larionov was the hero at 14:47 of the third overtime after tying the game with just 1:14 left in regulation. At age 41, he became the older player to score a goal in the Final.
On June 8, 2011, the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, to even the series at 2-2. Rich Peverley scored a pair of goals and goaltender Tim Thomas stopped all 38 shots he faced. The Bruins outscored the Canucks 12-1 in back-to-back games in Boston, which was the largest goal differential in any two-game stretch in the history of the Final.
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2, on June 8, 2015, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Cedric Paquette scored the game-winning goal with just over three minutes to play to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead in the series. Goaltender Ben Bishop, who left Game 2 of the series with an injury, made 36 saves in the win.
The Pittsburgh Penguins rolled over the Nashville Predators 6-0, on June 8, 2017, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup. Six different Penguins score as Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Ron Hainsey all find the back of the net. Sidney Crosby picked up assists on three of the goals. Goaltender Matt Murray stopped all 24 shots he saw to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Coaching Carousel
The Montreal Canadiens made the switch from one coaching legend to another on June 8, 1955. Hector “Toe” Blake took over behind the bench for Dick Irvin, who had been their head coach for the previous 15 seasons. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in each of Blake’s first five seasons as coach. He won a total of eight Stanley Cups during his 13-season run in Montreal before retiring in 1968.
On June 8, 1967, the Los Angeles Kings traded defenseman Ken Block to Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for Red Kelly. The future Hall of Famer immediately retires and becomes the first head coach in Kings’ history.
The Bruins fired head coach Rick Bowness, on June 8, 1992, after taking the Bruins to the Wales Conference Final in his only season in Boston. Brian Sutter was hired as his replacement the following day.
The Panthers fired head coach Roger Neilson, on June 8, 1995, who had coached the team for their first two NHL seasons. Neilson had compiled a 53-56-23 record in his two seasons in Florida. He is replaced by Doug MacLean, who takes the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season behind the bench.
Craig Ramsay became the 13th head coach in Philadelphia Flyers history on June 8, 2000. He served as the interim head coach since February after Neilson stepped down due to his battle with cancer.
On June 8, 2004, the Ottawa Senators named Bryan Murray as their new head coach. In order to take the job, Murray had to step down as general manager of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He led the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, where he lost to the Ducks.
Odds & Ends
The Penguins obtained future Hall of Fame defenseman Tim Horton from the New York Rangers in the NHL Intra-league draft on June 8, 1971. Horton played in 44 games for the Penguins during the 1971-72 season. He was traded to the Sabres during the following offseason, where he played the final two seasons of his career.
The NHL Amateur draft held in Montreal, on June 8, 1972, and the expansion New York Islanders used the first overall pick to select Billy Harris. The Atlanta Flames, the other expansion team in 1972, selected Jacques Richard with the second pick. Some of the most notable names to get picked in the first round included Steve Shutt (Canadiens), Bill Barber (Flyers) and Phil Russell (Chicago Blackhawks).
On June 8, 1976, Johnny Bower, Bill Quackenbush, and builders William Wirtz, Jack Gibson and Philip Ross were all announced as the next class of inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The memorable NHL Entry Draft of 1983 was held on this date in Montreal. The St. Louis Blues did not show up to participate after the league rejected their sale and relocation to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The Minnesota North Stars used the first overall pick to take Brian Lawton. After the Hartford Whalers selected Sylvain Turgeon second, the Islanders grabbed Pat LaFontaine with the third pick. The Red Wings were disappointed as they were big on LaFontaine, but they did pretty good by selecting Steve Yzerman at number four. Other well-known names taken the first round include Tom Barrasso (Sabres), Russ Courtnall (Maple Leafs), Cam Neely (Canucks), Dave Gagner (Rangers) and Jeff Beukeboom (Oilers).
Jacques Demers of the Red Wings won his second straight Jack Adams Award, on June 8, 1988, for being voted as the NHL’s top coach. To this day, he is still the only coach to win this award in back-to-back seasons.
On the same date, Mario Lemieux won both the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy for being the NHL’s leading scorer and most valuable player. He is the first Penguins player to ever win either award. He went on to win a total of six Ross Trophies and three Harts during his Hall of Fame career.
Minnesota North Stars named Bobby Clarke as their new general manager, on June 8, 1990, replacing Jack Ferreira. Clarke spent two seasons at the helm of the North Stars, leading them to two playoff appearances and the 1991 Stanley Cup Final.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 25 current and former NHL players who were born on June 8. Among the lot are Tomas Steen (60), Phil Bourque (58), Rob Ray (52), Bryan McCabe (45), Mike Cammalleri (38), Andrej Sekera (34), Joel Hanley (29), Conor Sheary (28), Tucker Poolman (27) and Anthony Beauvillier (23).