Today in Hockey History: March 4

This date in National Hockey League history has seen a little bit of everything. From the passing of a Hall of Famer to two members of a great dynasty breaking records and some great feats in goaltending. The THW time machine is fired up and ready to take us on our daily journey through the decades. Let’s get started.

Hockey World Mourns Ted Lindsay & Walter Gretzky

There are very few players who accomplished more in the game than Ted Lindsay did during his long career. The Detroit Red Wings legend dies on this date in 2019, at the age of 93. He became a star as the left wing on the Production Line in Detroit, along with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel. He was a big part of four Stanley Cup championships between 1950 and 1955. He played 17 seasons in the NHL, 14 with the Red Wings, and three with the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored 379 goals and 851 points in 1,068.

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Along with Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens, Lindsay helped start the Players’ Association in 1957. He retired in 1960 after three seasons in Chicago but returned for one final season with the Red Wings in 1964. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. He took a dip into the world of broadcasting and even served as the Wings’ general manager. In 2010, the NHL renamed the Lester B. Pearson Award, given to the player voted as the most outstanding by his pier, after Lindsay.

Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky, also passed away on this date in March 2021 at the age of 82. A keen analyst of the game, he made several contributions to minor hockey in Canada and helped many local, provincial and national charities. Known by many as Canada’s favorite hockey dad, he was inducted into the Brantford Walk of Fame and was appointed as a member of the Order of Ontario in 2002 and Order of Canada in 2007. On Feb. 12, 2010, he carried the Olympic Torch during the Olympic Relay on the last day of the relay. Later that day, his son Wayne lit the Olympic Flame.

For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain — he guided, protected and led our family every day, every step of the way.

Wayne Gretzky

Over the years, Walter worked for the CNIB and established the SCORE program (Summer Computer Orientation Recreational Education) which helps blind students learn computer skills. He also wrote two books: Gretzky: From Backyard Rink to the Stanley Cup in 1985 and On Family, Hockey and Healing in 2001. On March 4, 2022, a bronze bust of him was unveiled at Brantford City Hall outside council chambers, marking the one-year anniversary of his passing.

Bryan Trottier & Mike Bossy Make History

Two of the best players during the New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s broke records on this date. Trottier, on March 4, 1976, set two new high marks for NHL rookies. He picked up two assists during a 3-3 tie with the Vancouver Canucks. The two helpers made him the league’s all-time rookie leader with 54 assists and 79 points. He finished the season with 63 assists, which are still tied for the third-most by a first-year player. His 95 points are now ranked ninth on the all-time rookie season list.

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Bossy scored a hat trick to give him 51 goals on the season, on March 4, 1982, in a 10-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This made him the first player in league history to score at least 50 goals in each of his first five seasons. He had four more 50-goal seasons after this to extend his record to nine straight 50-goal seasons.

A Busy Day for Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky started his memories on this date in 1988 when he five assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 7-4 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Glenn Anderson had a big night with four goals and Craig Simpson chipped in with two goals and a pair of assists.

Wayne Gretzky #99 of the Edmonton Oilers
Gretzky had plenty to celebrate on this date. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

One year later, Gretzky scored a pair of goals to hit 50 on the season for the ninth and final time in his career. He also had assists on four second-period goals and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Flyers 6-2. He joined Bossy as the only two players with nine 50-goal seasons.

On March 4, 1992, Gretzky became the first player to record 1,500 career assists with a helper during the Kings’ 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. He is still the only player to reach this plateau. No other player has even racked up 1,300 assists. His record of 1,963 assists will likely never be broken.

Ron Francis’ Eventful Date

Ron Francis was traded by the Hartford Whalers, on March 4, 1991, along with Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski. Francis played 533 games for the Penguins and scored 164 and 613 points, helping them to back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992.

A dozen years later, on March 4, 2003, Francis joined Howe as the only two players to score at least 20 goals in 20 different seasons. Goal No. 20 for the 2002-03 season came in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Getting It Done in the Crease

Gump Worsley became the first goaltender in New York Rangers history to win 30 games in a season on March 4m 1956, with a 3-2 win against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

Terry Sawchuk became the first NHL netminder to earn 100 career shutouts on March 4, 1967, as he led the Maple Leafs to a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks. George Armstrong found the back of the net to become the second player in franchise history to score 250 goals.

On this date in 1973, Jacques Plante made his debut for the Bruins. The 44-year-old goaltender made 27 saves to earn his 81st career shutout with a 4-0 blanking of Chicago. He played his final eight NHL games with the Bruins and went 7-1-0 with two shutouts and allowed just 16 total goals.

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Another Bruins backstop, Gerry Cheevers, became the 22nd goaltender in NHL history to record 200 career victories, on March 4, 1979, with a 6-4 victory at Detroit.

Patrick Roy recorded his 52nd career shutout to move past Rogie Vachon and David Kerr for 17th place on the league’s all-time list on March 4, 2001, as the Colorado Avalanche won 5-0 at the Phoenix Coyotes. One year later, he recorded his 60th career shutout and his career-high eighth of the season in a 2-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Joe Sakic was the offensive hero with a goal and an assist.

Craig Anderson became the first goaltender to win back-to-back 1-0 road games on March 4, 2009, as he made 40 saves in the Florida Panthers’ 1-0 overtime win at the Bruins. Two days earlier, he made 53 saves in a 1-0 road win at the Islanders.

Ilya Sorokin got into the New York Islanders’ record books on March 4, 2021, when he recorded a shutout streak of 143:08. Only Al Montoya (143:17) and Glenn Resch (178:29) had longer shutout streaks to start their NHL careers. Buffalo Sabres forward Taylor Hall broke it when he scored at 3:08 of the second period.

A Game of High/Low

The Bruins set an NHL record with 83 shots on goal against Blackhawks’ goaltender Sam LoPresti, on March 4, 1941, in a 3-2 win at the Boston Garden. They also set a record with 37 shots in the first period. This game occurred before shots on goal were an officially kept stat. The modern record for the most shots in a game is 73 by the Bruins on March 21, 1991.

On the other end of the spectrum, on March 4, 1999, the Maple Leafs only had nine shots on goal for the entire game and still beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0. The Leafs scored one goal on three first-period shots then scored on three of their four shots during the second period. The nine shots were the fewest in Toronto team history and a new NHL record for the fewest by a winning team.

Odds & Ends

Cy Denneny became the first NHL player to score 200 career goals on March 4, 1925, when he has a goal and assist in the Ottawa Senators’ 5-1 win at the Montreal Maroons.

Rick MacLeish scored four times on March 4, 1973, to have the first 40-goal season in Flyers history. He also added three assists during a 10-0 blowout of the Maple Leafs.

Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita recorded his 800th NHL assist, on March 4, 1976, in a 6-3 loss at the Buffalo Sabres.

Stan Mikita
Stan Mikita, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

On March 4, 1981, Guy Lafleur became the 15th player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points. He reached this milestone with a pair of goals in the Canadiens’ 9-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Paul Coffey became just the third defenseman to ever have a 100-point season on this date in 1984. He hit triple digits in points with three assists in the Oilers’ 6-1 victory against the visiting Canadiens.

Greg Adams became the first player in New Jersey Devils team history to score 30 goals in a season on March 4, 1986, and set the single-season scoring record with his 62nd point in a 4-2 loss at the Washington Capitals.

Defenseman Bob Murray played in his 1,000th career game on March 4, 1990, as the Blackhawks lost 4-1 to the visiting Bruins. He joined Mikita, Bobby Hull and Eric Nesterenko as the only players to play in 1,000 games for Chicago.

Brian Leetch picked his 58th assist of the season in a 6-2 Rangers’ win against the Flyers on March 4, 1991, to break the 17-year-old club record for assists by a defenseman held by Brad Park.

Related: Brian Leetch: The Road to the 1994 Conn Smythe Trophy

The Philadelphia Flyers came back from down at least three goals to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in regulation for the fourth time in their history on March 4, 2021, when they rallied to win 4-3 on the strength of four straight goals after trailing 3-0 3:57 into the first period. Captain Claude Giroux scored the winner when he redirected a back-hand pass from Nicolas Aube-Kubel at 17:52 of the third period.

Max Domi played his 400th NHL game on this date in 2021 as his team the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2.

Max Domi Columbus Blue Jackets
Max Domi, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames fired head coach Geoff Ward and re-hired Darryl Sutter after a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on March 4, 2021. Before that drama, Dillon Dube recorded his first NHL hat trick.

On March 4, 2022, Joe Pavelski recorded his 900th point in the NHL when he assisted on Jason Robertson’s first-period goal in what became a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 22 current and former NHL players have been born on March 4. The most notable of this lot are Gord Kluzak (59), Jake Dowell (38), Derek Forbort (31), Joel Persson (29) and Valeri Nichushkin (28).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen

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