A pair of Hockey Hall of Famers scored their 600th goals on this date in National Hockey League history. There were also numerous memorable nights for both teams in New York City and the hockey world mourned the passing of one of the all-time great head coaches.
Getting No. 600
Two years and one day after Wayne Gretzky scored his 500th goal, the Great One hits his next huge milestone. On Nov. 23, 1998, Gretzky scored his 600th career during the Los Angeles Kings’ 8-3 road win at the Detroit Red Wings. He also picked up five assists to cap off a six-point night in the Motor City.
It took Gretzky 565 games to score his first 500 goals. He needed another 153 games to go from 500 to 600. At the time, he was just the fifth player in NHL history to score 600 career goals. Since this date, 15 more players have reached the 600-goal plateau.
One of those 15 players was Dave Andreychuk. He scored goals No. 600 and 601, on Nov. 23, 2002, to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory at the New Jersey Devils. He was the 14th player in league history to score 600 career goals.
Rangers Legends Get It Done
Rod Gilbert played his final NHL game, on Nov. 23, 1977, a New York Rangers’ 6-3 win on home ice over the Colorado Rockies. The right winger spent his entire 18-season career with the Blue Shirts. He played in 1,065 games, scoring 406 goals and 1,021 points, which are still the most in franchise history. Only Brian Leetch has more assists in a Rangers uniform than Gilbert.
When you do something that only Gordie Howe has done, you have really accomplished a major feat. Mark Messier joined Howe as the only players to appear in 1,700 NHL games, on Nov. 23, 2003, during the Rangers 6-3 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators. Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Patrick Marleau have since added their names to this list. Marleau, who signed with the San Jose Sharks, is 44 games shy of Howe’s all-time record of 1,767 games played.
Henrik Lundqvist earned a shutout, on Nov. 23, 2014, to lead New York to a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. This came after his backup, Cam Talbot, shutout the Philadelphia Flyers in the team’s previous game. This marked the first time since 1977 where the Rangers get consecutive shutouts from two different netminders. Back then, Wayne Thomas and John Davidson shutout the St Louis Blues and Minnesota North Stars, respectively, three days apart.
A Wild Night for the Islanders
The New York Islanders played one of their whackiest games in team history, on Nov. 23, 1982, when they skated to an 8-8 with the visiting North Stars. Bryan Trottier is the only member of the Islanders to score twice as seven different players light the lamp. They torched Minnesota goaltender Gilles Meloche for eight goals on just 27 shots. Neal Broten and Steve Payne both had hat tricks for the North Stars.
On Nov. 23, 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs threw everything but the kitchen sink at Islanders’ goaltender Dwyane Roloson. The tied a 33-year-old franchise record with 61 shots on goal, but lose 4-3 in overtime. The 61 shots allowed were the most New York ever gave up in a single game. Roloson’s 58 saves are still tied for the 10th-most made in a regular-season game.
Odds & Ends
Nov. 23 was a big date for goaltending legend George Hainsworth. On this date in 1926, he picked up his first career shutout by leading the Canadiens to a 2-0 victory over the New York Americans. He went on to earn 14 shutouts during the 1926-27 season, which was a rookie-record until Tony Esposito broke in 1969-70 with 15 for the Chicago Blackhawks. Hainsworth finished his Hall of Fame career with 94 shutouts, the third-most all-time behind Martin Brodeur and Terry Sawchuk.
Esa Tikkanen’s crazy month continued, on Nov. 23, 1995, when he was traded by the New Jersey Devils to the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round draft pick. This marked the second time Tikkanen was traded in the month. He was first traded to the Devils by the Blues on Nov. 1, 1995, for a third-round pick. So, New Jersey actually moved up a round in the draft for 11 games of Tikkanen’s service. He played 100 games with the Canucks, scoring 25 goals and 64 points, before being traded to the Rangers in 1997. The Devils used the draft pick to select forward Wes Mason, who never played in the NHL.
The Boston Bruins made history, on Nov. 23, 2002, when they beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. The victory made them just the second team, after the Canadiens, to win 2,500 NHL games. It was also their 1,500th win on home ice in franchise history.
Bruce Boudreau made his NHL head coaching debut, on Nov. 23, 2007, in the Washington Capitals’ 4-3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Birthday boy Nicklas Backstrom scored in the extra session to give Boudreau his first career victory. He replaced Glen Hanlon, who was fired after 21 games. He led the Hershey Bears, Washington’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, to the 2006 Calder Cup championship. Since this date, he’s earned 567 wins, in 984 total games, for the Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild.
Speaking of successful head coaches, on Nov. 23, 2014, the hockey world mourned the passing of Pat Quinn, who died at 71 following a long illness. He played 606 career NHL games, as a defenseman, for the Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames. His most memorable play might be the open-ice hit he threw on Bruins’ legend Bobby Orr, during the 1969 postseason, that knocked him unconscious and started a bench-clearing brawl.
An ankle injury forced Quinn to retire in 1977 and he was quickly added to Flyers organization as the head coach of the AHL affiliate, the Maine Mariners. He was promoted to head coach in Philadelphia during the 1978-79 season. He coached 1,400 games in NHL, earning 684 wins, with Flyers, Kings, Canucks, Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, also spending it in the front offices of Toronto and Vancouver. He took the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
The two-time winner of the Jack Adams Award, for being the league’s best coach, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame just six days before his death. He was unable to attend the ceremony.
On Nov. 23, 2018, Joe Thornton picked up an assist on Timo Meier’s power-play goal in the San Jose Sharks’ 4-0 win over the Canucks. The helper gave him 1,034 career assists, moving him into 11th place on the all-time leader board.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 14 current and former NHL players share birthdays today. The most successful of this bunch are Simon Nolet (79), Brian Glynn (53), former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu (46), Colby Armstrong (38), Backstrom (33) Garnet Hathaway (29) and Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (28).
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.