If you were to walk through the wings of the Hockey Hall of Fame, you would see the names of a lot of players who had big moments on this day in National Hockey League history. Among the memories is the greatest player of them all having two huge career highlights, the first-ever outdoor game being played and the most successful head coach of all-time getting his first job in the league.
Gretzky Gets the Call
There have been many special dates throughout the legendary career of Wayne Gretzky. However, one would think that Nov. 22 ranks right near the top for him.
On this date in 1986, Gretzky’s 39th career hat trick was the difference in the Edmonton Oilers’ 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The three goals gave him 500 in his career. The 25-year-old needed just 575 games to reach this milestone, and nobody has ever scored 500 goals faster.
Exactly 13 years later, on Nov. 22, 1999, Gretzky is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The mandatory three-year waiting period is waived for the Great One as he is enshrined just seven months after playing in his final NHL game. He retired as the holder of 23 league records, 22 of which he still holds today. He is the NHL’s all-time leader with 894 goals, 1,963 assists and 2,857 points. Longtime official Andy Van Hellemond and former league President Scotty Morrison joined Gretzky in the 1999 Hall of Fame class.
Into the Great Wide Open
The NHL held its first outdoor game, on Nov. 22, 2003, when the Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens in the Heritage Classic. A record crowd of over 57,000 brave frigid temperatures to fill Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium for the historic contest.
Before the real game began, the fans were treated to an alumni game between some of the all-time greats from each franchise. The Oilers’ team boasted some of the great names from their 1980s dynasty including Gretzky, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri and even Mark Messier who was still an active player for the New York Rangers at the time.
The Canadiens roster was highlighted by Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, Guy Carbonneau, Guy Lapointe, Kirk Muller, Steve Shutt and Bobby Smith. The Oilers’ alumni won 2-0, much to the approval of the large crowd.
However, the hometown fans left cold and disappointed as the Canadiens earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory in the main attraction. Richard Zednik scored the first outdoor goal in league history, just 39 seconds into the second period. He and Yanic Perreault each scored twice to lead Montreal’s attack. Steve Staios was the offensive leader for the home team with a goal and two assists.
Old School Memories
The Olympia Stadium hosted its first-ever NHL game, on Nov. 22, 1927, as the Detroit Cougars hosted the original Ottawa Senators. The local fans showed up in droves as 14,000 packed the building to see the Senators skate away with a 2-1 victory. The Cougars were renamed the Falcons and eventually settle, of course, on the Red Wings in 1932. The franchise called the Olympia Stadium home until they moved into the Joe Louis Arena in December of 1979.
Goaltender Loren Chabot led the way, on Nov. 22, 1930, in the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 win over the Senators. With the blanking of Ottawa, the Maple Leafs became the first team in league history to start a season with five straight shutouts.
The Jackson brothers were the men of the hour, on Nov. 22, 1942, as they led the Boston Bruins to a 7-6 win over the Maple Leafs. Art Jackson had a hat trick while his brother Havery scored a goal and added two assists in the team’s fourth consecutive win.
On Nov. 22, 1947, the Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 8-5 with Gordie Howe scoring the first of his 121 regular-season game-winning goals. He held the all-time record until he was passed up by Jaromir Jagr, who scored 135 game-winning goals in his career.
Finally, on Nov. 22, 1952, Maurice Richard scored two within 25 seconds of each other to help the Canadiens earn at 2-2 tie in Toronto. Maple Leafs’ rookie George Armstrong scored a goal and added an assist.
Playing the Hits on Broadway
This has been a very busy date in the history of the Rangers. Starting on Nov. 22, 1934, when Lynn Patrick scored the first goal of his career in New York’s 4-3 win over the Red Wings. He scored 145 goals and 336 points during his 10-season career with the Rangers before taking over as head coach.
Andy Bathgate scored his 228th career goal, on Nov. 22, 1962, to tie Bill Cook for the franchise’s all-time leader in goals. He also added a pair of assists in a 7-1 road win at the Boston Bruins. He scored 272 goals with the Rangers, which are still the fourth-most in franchise history.
Goaltender Gilles Villemure recorded his second career shutout, on Nov. 22, 1970, as the Rangers extended their team-record home undefeated streak to 11 straight games (9-0-2) with a 2-0 win over the Minnesota North Stars.
On Nov. 22, 1975, Rod Gilbert became the first player in team history to score 350 goals during a 4-1 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers. He is still the Rangers’ all-time leading goal-scorer with 406 during his 18-season career in New York.
Craig Patrick, son of Lynn, was named general manager and head coach, on Nov. 22, 1980, replacing Fred Shero. He remained behind the bench for two seasons and held onto the GM role until 1986. The Rangers qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in all six seasons he was calling the shots.
Record-Setting Date in St. Louis
Scotty Bowman was named head coach of the St. Louis Blues, on Nov. 22, 1967, taking over for Lynn Patrick, who coached the first 16 games in franchise history. Bowman went 110-83-45 with the Blues in his first head coaching job. He took them to the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three seasons in the NHL.
Bernie Federko, on Nov. 22, 1980, helped the Blues beat the visiting Red Wings 6-2. He picked up a helper to extend his team-record assist streak to 10 straight games. He still holds the franchise records with 721 assists and 1,073 points.
Three years later, on Nov. 22, 1983, Brian Sutter set a new single-game team record with five assists in a 7-4 win over the Maple Leafs. His big night helped the Blues snap a six-game winless streak.
On Nov. 22, 2003, Pavol Demitra scored his 200th career goal, which happened to be the game-winner, and added an assist in the Blues 2-1 victory against the Dallas Stars. This was the Blues’ 200th win at their home arena, then called the Savvis Center. The team has played 983 games in this building, now known as the Enterprise Center, and has 548 victories.
Hat Tricks for Hull
Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull enjoyed taking the ice on this date throughout his Hall of Fame career. On Nov. 22, 1967, he scored the 21st hat trick of his career to help beat the Rangers 7-1, at Madison Square Garden. His teammate, Eric Nesterenko, scored twice, and added an assist, to reach 200 goals in his career.
Exactly three years later, on Nov. 22, 1970, Hull scored his 25th hat trick in a 9-0 drubbing of the Oakland Seals. Goaltender Tony Esposito stopped all 32 shots he faced to pick his 20th career shutout.
Odds & Ends
Maple Leafs’ defenseman Red Kelly became just the third player in league history to play in 1,000 games, on Nov. 22, 1962, in a 1-0 loss at the Blackhawks. He played in another 1,316 games before retiring in 1967. The first 846 games of his Hall of Fame career came with the Red Wings, before playing 470 with Toronto.
Ken Hodge scored two goals and added an assist, on Nov. 22, 1970, as the Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. This started a 27-game unbeaten streak on home ice. They went 26-0-1 at the Boston Garden until the Rangers knocked them off on March 27, 1971.
Dave Keon scored his 297th career goal, on Nov. 22, 1972, to become the Maple Leafs’ all-time leading goal-scorer. It was the only goal in a 3-1 loss at the North Stars. He broke the previous record held by Armstrong and Frank Mahovich. His 365 goals are still the third-most in team history as he has since been passed by Mats Sundin (420) and Darryl Sittler (389).
On that same night, the Penguins beat the Blues 10-4. Half of their goals were scored by Bryan Hextall Jr., Jean Pronovost, Al McDonough, Ken Schinkel and Ron Schock in the span of 2:07 of the third period. This still stands as the fastest five goals ever scored by one team.
Rookie Steve Kasper scored the Bruins’ 11,000th all-time goal, on Nov. 22, 1980, in a Bruins’ 2-2 tie with the Washington Capitals. Boston joined the Canadiens and Maple Leafs as the only NHL franchise with 11,000 goals scored.
Two Hall of Fame defenseman hit personal milestones, on Nov. 22, 1989, when the Los Angeles Kings beat the Blackhawks 6-3. Larry Robinson became just the second NHL defenseman ever to record 700 assists in the winning effort. On the losing end, Doug Wilson became the first blueliner in Blackhawks’ history to score 200 goals.
Curtis Joseph became the first goalie in Edmonton Oilers history to record back-to-back shutouts, on Nov. 22, 1997, in a 1-0 victory at the Senators. Mike Watt scored the only goal of the game, the first of his NHL career.
On Nov. 22, 1999, rookie Dean Sylvester scored the first three goals of his career, and added an assist, to lead the Atlanta Thrashers to a 6-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks. This was the first hat trick in Thrashers’ team history.
Calle Johansson became the Capitals’ all-time leader in scoring by a defenseman, on Nov. 22, 2000, when he picked up an assist in a 3-2 win over the visiting Canucks. He broke the previous record of 429 points held by Scott Stevens. This came 13 years to the day after he scored his first NHL goal for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2, on Nov. 22, 2017, to improve their record to 13-6-1. This tied the 1917-18 Canadiens for the most wins in a franchise’s first 20 games in the NHL. They went 13-7-0 to start the league’s inaugural season.
Happy Birthday to You
A small but talented group of 12 current and former NHL players were born on this date. The most notable of the lot is a pair of Canadiens’ Hall of Famers, Jacques Laperriere (79) and Yvan Cournoyer (77), along with Bert Marshall (77), Vladislav Namestnikov (28) and Casey Mittelstadt (22).