Today in Hockey History: March 3

March 3 was a special day for one of the most successful families in National Hockey League history. A hectic day in Toronto included some legendary names on the move. Plus, 100 is the lucky number for this date as it appeared many times over the years. Let’s start our daily look back through the decades and relive all the best moments this date has given us.

Howe Family Memories

On March 3, 1959, the Detroit Red Wings honored Gordie Howe at Olympia Stadium before their tilt with the visiting Boston Bruins. A brand-new station was part of the many gifts the Hall of Fame forward was showered with. However, the biggest surprise was inside of the car. When he opened the door, he saw his parents, Ab and Katherine, sitting in the back seat. This was the first time they watched their son play an NHL game in person during his 13-season career. Howe, as one would imagine, became very emotional at the sight of his parents. As far as the game went, the Red Wings and Bruins skated to a 2-2 tie.

Mark Howe, Gordie’s second of three sons, recorded his 500th NHL point on this date in 1987. His third-period goal helped the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. The Hall of Fame defenseman needed just 562 games to hit the 500-point mark.

An Active Date for the Toronto Maple Leafs

March 3 has been full of big names for the Maple Leafs, with some performing well on the ice, some arriving in town, and others getting traded away.

Lorne Chabot became the first goaltender in franchise history to record 100 victories on this date in 1931, in a 5-1 win at the old Philadelphia Quakers.

The Maple Leafs pulled off a huge trade on March 3, 1968, when they sent Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski and Garry Unger to the Red Wings for Norm Ullman, Floyd Smith and Paul Henderson. The extremely popular Mahovlich had 296 goals and 597 points during his 12 seasons in Toronto. Ullman played in 535 games for the Leafs over the next eight seasons and scored 166 goals and 471 points. Henderson scored 162 goals and 318 points during his seven seasons with the team. While the move wasn’t well-received by the fans, the Maple Leafs got the better end of the deal.

Related: Frank Mahovlich: Highs & Lows of a Hall of Fame Career

The team traded away another future Hall of Famer exactly two years later. In 1970, they traded legendary defenseman Tim Horton to the New York Rangers for future considerations, which turned out to be forward Denis Dupere. This put an end to Horton’s 20-season run with the Maple Leafs that saw him play in 1,186 games and win four Stanley Cups.

The Maple Leafs traded goaltender Jacques Plante and a third-round draft pick, on March 3, 1973, to the Bruins for a first-round pick and future considerations, which eventually became goaltender Eddie Johnston. They used the draft pick to select defenseman Ian Turnbull, who scored 112 goals and 414 points in 580 games in Toronto. Plante played eight games for the Bruins and won seven of them.

While Joel Quenneville will be remembered for being one of the most successful head coaches in league history, he had an outstanding 13-season career as a defenseman. He played the first 93 games of his career with the Maple Leafs and, on March 3, 1979, he scored his first NHL goal, the game-winner in a 4-3 victory over the Flyers.

Wendel Clark scored his 28th and 29th goals of the season on March 3, 1986, to break the club record for most goals by a rookie, as the Maple Leafs won 6-1 over the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Peter Ihnacak and Walt Poddubny both set the former record in 1982-83.

In 2004, the Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Brian Leetch – on his 36th birthday – from the Rangers in for defenseman Maxim Kondratiev, forward Jarkko Immonen, a first and second-round draft pick. This was a pretty hefty price paid for just 15 games of Leetch, who signed with the Bruins for the 2005-06 season.

All About the 100

Phil Esposito scored his 100th point of the season, on March 3, 1973, with an assist in the Bruins’ 5-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens. This made him the first player in NHL history with four 100-point seasons in his career.

Mike Bossy scored four goals and added an assist on March 3, 1981, to reach 100 points during the New York Islanders 8-8 tie with the Edmonton Oilers. He set a new league record with his ninth hat trick of the season.

Exactly one year later, Bobby Smith had a goal and two assists to become the first 100-point scorer in Minnesota North Stars’ history. The milestone came in a 6-4 win over the visiting Red Wings, as this was the only 100-point season of his career.

Ed Olczyk scored his 100th career goal, on March 3, 1988, in the Maple Leafs’ 5-3 loss at the Bruins.

Brett Hull hit the 100-point mark for the first time in his career, on March 3, 1990, with two goals and two assists in the St. Louis Blues’ 5-4 victory over the Islanders. The performance made Brett and Bobby Hull the first father/son tandem to have 100-point seasons in the NHL.  

Brett Hull
Hull hit 100 points for the first time on this date in 1990. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Wayne Gretzky picked up an assist on March 3, 1992, as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Flyers 4-1. This extended his record of consecutive 100-point seasons to 13 in a row.

Ed Belfour recorded his 100th win as a member of the Dallas Stars on March 3, 2000, when the team scored four goals during a 10-minute span of the third period for a 4-1 win at the Phoenix Coyotes.

One year later, on March 3, 2001, Robert Lang scored two goals to give him 100 in his career during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 loss at the Washington Capitals.

Odds & Ends

The recorded organized indoor hockey game was played on March 3, 1875, at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal. Instead of using a lacrosse ball, like most outdoor games, the two teams of nine used a flat wooden disk.

The Canadiens set the NHL record for most goals in a game on March 3, 1920, when they beat up the Quebec Bulldogs 16-3. Both Harry Cameron and Newsy Lalonde scored four goals. This record still stands alone over 100 years later.

Sticking with the Canadiens, on March 3, 1968, Jean Beliveau scored a goal in a 5-2 loss at the Red Wings to become the second player in league history to score 1,000 career points. He joined Howe, who was on the winning side of the ice on this night, as the only members of the 1,000-point club. Beliveau hit this major milestone in his 911th game; Howe needed 938.

In 1968, Beliveau became the second player to score 1,000 career points. (THW Archives)

The Oilers, a member of the World Hockey Association, named ex-player Glen Sather as the team’s new head coach on this date in 1977. He was behind the bench for all four of their Stanley Cup victories during the 1980s and served as general manager from 1980 until 2000.

Playing in just his second NHL game, on March 3, 1984, Pat LaFontaine scored the first five points of his career with three goals and two assists in the Islanders’ 11-6 win at the Maple Leafs.

Defenseman Gary Suter began a Calgary Flames team-record 16-game point streak, with an assist in a 6-3 win over the visiting Flyers.

Tim Kerr became the fourth player in Flyers franchise history to score 350 goals, on March 3, 1990, during a 5-3 road loss in Edmonton.

Teemu Selanne set a Mighty Ducks on Anaheim club record by extending his scoring streak to 10 straight games, on March 3, 1996, in a 2-2 tie with Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored eight goals and 16 points during this streak.

Pavel Bure picked up an assist, on March 3, 2000, in a 4-2 loss at the Rangers to set a Florida Panthers team record for most points in one season. His 71st point of the year broke the mark set by Scott Mellanby in 1995-96.

Pierre Turgeon and Jamie Langenbrunner scored 37 seconds apart in the first period on March 3, 2002, as the Stars beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1. This was the Stars’ 48th straight win when leading after two periods, a new NHL record.

Teppo Numminen became the first player in Jets/Coyotes franchise history to play in 1,000 games on this date in 2002, during a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Two years later, now with the Stars, he became the NHL all-time leader in games played by a European-born defenseman. His 1,149th game was a 4-2 win over Columbus. He broke the previous record held by Maple Leafs great Borje Salming.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the season, on March 3, 2018, during a Capitals’ 5-2 win over Toronto in an outdoor game played in Annapolis, MD. He became the sixth player in NHL history to have at least nine 40-goal seasons.

Related: 7 Cool Things About Alexander Ovechkin

Washington Capitals’ head coach Peter Laviolette became the 15th NHL coach to hit 650 regular-season wins when his team defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 on March 3, 2021. Since becoming a coach in 2001 with the New York Islanders, he has been behind the bench with four different NHL teams including the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Arizona Coyotes defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson played in his 800th NHL game on this date in 2021 during a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He retired a few months later, finishing his career with 172 points (25 goals, 147 assists) in 821 regular-season games. Before joining the Coyotes, he won three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015) with the Chicago Blackhawks over the course of 10 seasons. He played his last four campaigns with the Coyotes and left the league at the ripe age of 33.

On March 3, 2022, David Pastrnak reached the 30-goal mark for the fifth time in his NHL career, tying Bobby Orr for the fourth-most in Bruins history.

On that same night, Connor McDavid became the fourth player in Oilers history to have six consecutive 50-assist seasons when he had two assists in the Oilers’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. The others are, of course, Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Paul Coffey.

On March 3, 2023, Brent Burns had four assists in the Hurricanes’ 6-1 win over the Coyotes to become the fourth-oldest defenseman in NHL history to do so.

Happy Birthday to You

In addition to Leetch, 26 other NHL players are sharing a birthday today. The most notable names of this group are Al Secord (66), Kelly Miller (61), Bob Kudelski (60), Stephane Robidas (47), Colton Orr (42), Alexander Semin (40) and Alexander Petrovic (32).

Sign up for our NHL History Substack newsletter

Substack The Hockey Writers Hockey History Banner