Nov. 16 has seen quite a few memorable moments in National Hockey League history, including an “Original 6” franchise taking the ice for the first time. This was also a significant date for a Hall of Fame goaltender and for defensemen finding the scoresheet. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take us back through the decades to relive all the best moments this date has to offer.
Rangers Win NHL Debut
This is an important date in NHL history as one of its iconic franchises took to the ice for the first time. On Nov. 16, 1925, the New York Rangers made their debut at Madison Square Garden. They were owned by Tex Rickard, who was also the president of Madison Square Garden, where New York’s first NHL team, the Americans, also play.
Over 13,000 fans showed up for the Rangers’ first game against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Montreal Maroons. Bill Cook scored the first goal in franchise history, and that was all goaltender Hal Winkler needed in a 1-0 victory.
The game was historic, not only for being the Blue Shirts’ debut, but it also saw the only fight in Frank Boucher’s career. He dropped the gloves with Merlyn Phillips of the Maroons. Boucher won the Lady Byng Trophy for being the most gentlemanly player in the game seven times during his career. In fact, he was actually given the original trophy to keep by Evelyn Byng, who it is named after.
Hall of Fame Defenders Light it Up
On Nov. 16, 1969, Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr had another huge night. He racked up four assists for the first time in his career in a 7-4 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings. During the second period, he picked up three assists and capped off his big night with a fourth helper in the final frame. He finished the 1969-70 season with 87 assists and 120 points. He won the first of his two Art Ross Trophies for leading the league in scoring. Orr is still the only defenseman to win this award.
Rangers Hall of Fame blueliner Brian Leetch came up huge on Nov. 16, 1990, in New York’s 6-4 road win at the Winnipeg Jets. He picked up five assists to tie the team record for helpers by a defenseman in a single game. Leetch’s 741 career assists with the Rangers are still the most in franchise history.
Stevie Y Hits Two Milestones
The Detroit Red Wings have had quite a few legendary players during their long and storied history. Steve Yzerman is near the top of that list, and he had two big personal achievements on this date.
On Nov. 16, 1991, Yzerman scored twice to become the third player in franchise history to score 350 goals with the team. He also had an assist in the Red Wings’ 5-3 victory over the Kings.
Exactly 10 years later, on Nov. 16, 2001, Yzerman had another two-goal game to reach 650 goals in his career. He and Gordie Howe are the only two players to reach this plateau in team history. Brett Hull picked up two assists to bring his career point total up to 1,200. Both of these milestones came in an 8-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Rogie Rules the Day
Hall of Fame goaltender Rogie Vachon was a mainstay between the pipes for 16 NHL seasons. After playing the first six seasons of his career, primarily as a backup, with the Canadiens and being a part of two Stanley Cup wins, he was traded to the Kings in 1971.
With the Kings, on Nov. 16, 1976, he dueled with Gary Simmons in a scoreless tie with the Cleveland Barons. Marcel Dionne set a new team record with 11 shots on goal but could not get any of them past Simmons.
After six seasons and 206 games with the Kings, Vachon signed with the Red Wings in 1978. On Nov. 16, 1979, he became the eighth goaltender in NHL history to record 300 career victories with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
In July of 1980, he was traded to the Bruins for goaltender Gilles Gilbert. On Nov. 16 of that year, Vachon became the 17th goaltender to record 50 career shutouts, with his first with Boston in a 1-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Odds & Ends
Two early NHL stars made their debuts on Nov. 16, 1926, when the Bruins hosted the Canadiens. Goaltending great George Hainsworth made his first start for Montreal while Boston defenseman Eddie Shore took to the NHL rink for the first time. Carson Cooper was the hero of the day with a hat trick to lead the Bruins to a 4-1 victory.
Jean Beliveau recorded two assists, on Nov. 16, 1968, during the Canadiens’ 3-3 tie with the Oakland Seals. This gave him 597 career assists, second only to Howe, at the time, who currently had 913 assists.
Rookie goaltender Tony Esposito recorded his third shutout of the season on Nov. 16, 1969, in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 1-0 win over the Canadiens. He finished the 1969-70 season with 15 shutouts, an NHL record for rookies that still stands today.
On Nov. 16, 1974, Rick Martin scored the 1,000th goal in Buffalo Sabres’ franchise history during a 7-5 loss at the Bruins.
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Ken Dryden became the third goaltender to record 200 victories as a member of the Canadiens, on Nov. 16, 1977, with a 4-1 win at the Colorado Rockies. He was the 21st netminder in league history to reach the 200-win mark.
Mike Bossy scored the 545th goal of his career on Nov. 16, 1986, in the New York Islanders’ 3-1 loss to the Jets. This moved him ahead of Maurice Richard for sixth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. When the Canadiens legend retired in 1960, his 544 career goals were the most in league history.
The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted two classes on this date. First, on Nov. 16, 1993, Bossy’s teammate, goaltender Billy Smith, Canadiens Steve Shutt, and Guy Lapointe, and former Ranger Edgar Laprade were enshrined. Five years later, on Nov. 16, 1998, Quebec Nordiques teammates Peter Stastny and Michel Goulet were inducted along with Roy Conacher.
The Calgary Flames acquired goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff on Nov. 16, 2003, from the San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He won 24 games and led the NHL with a 1.69 goals-against average (GAA) in his first season with the Flames, before leading them to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy in 2006 for being voted the best netminder in the league after winning 42 games and posting a .923 save percentage and 2.07 GAA. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played for a goaltender (576), wins (305), and shutouts (41). This trade wasn’t all bad for the Sharks. They used the draft pick to select defenseman Marc-Andre Vlasic, who has played in 1,094 games over his 16 seasons with the team.
Happy Birthday to You
There have been 16 current and former NHL players born on this date. The most notable birthday boys include Dave Forbes (73), Pierre Larouche (66), Josh Green (44), Stephane Veilleux (40), Kari Lehtonen (38), Tim Schaller (31), Paul Cotter (22), and the late Dick Gamble.
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.