A pair of Hall of Fame teammates both hit big milestones on this date. Nov. 6 was also very memorable during the early days of National Hockey League history, with some of the game’s pioneers making contributions. Plus, the son of a hockey legend kept the family tradition of success alive and well.
Gretzky & Messier, Forever Connected
Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier became legends of the game as teammates with the Edmonton Oilers, where they won four Stanley Cups together. Both Hockey Hall of Famers hit personal milestones on this date.
Gretzky scored four goals for his 19th career hat trick, on Nov. 6, 1983, and added three assists to cap off a seven-point night in an 8-5 win at the Winnipeg Jets.
Five years later, as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, the Great One scored two goals and added an assist in a 5-3 road win at the Chicago Blackhawks. His three-point performance gave him 1,700 points in his career, coming in just his 711th game. He joined Gordie Howe and Marcel Dionne as the only players to score 1,700 points.
On Nov. 6, 1995, Messier scored three times, in a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames, to become the 21st player in NHL history to score 500 career goals. It was his first hat trick since he scored one in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Final after guaranteeing victory versus the New Jersey Devils.
Gretzky and Messier combined for 4,744 points in their remarkable careers, and sit first and third, respectively, on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Old School Memories
On Nov. 6, 1938, former player and three-time Stanley Cup winner, King Clancy, made his debut as a referee as the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. He retired in 1936 after 16 seasons with the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. After a brief stint as Montreal Maroons coach, he spent 11 seasons as an NHL referee. Eventually, he found his way back to the Maple Leafs in 1953, where he worked as a coach and executive until his death in 1986.
The Blackhawks beat the New York Rangers 4-3, on Nov. 6, 1943, in Madison Square Garden. 19-year-old goaltender Hec Highton won his first career NHL game. One of the three goals he allowed was to 42-year-old Rangers center, Frank Boucher. This marked the first time in NHL history where a player at least 40 years old scored against a teenaged netminder.
The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings skated to a 3-3 draw, on Nov. 6, 1946, at the old Olympia Stadium. Neither team was called for a penalty during the game, marking the first time in the Bruins’ 22-year franchise history where they played a penalty-free contest.
Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion scored the 100th goal of his career, on Nov. 6, 1954, as the Canadiens beat the Red Wings 4-1. He scored 371 of his 393 career goals in Habs sweater, which are still the sixth-most in franchise history.
More Blackhawks Moments
The Blackhawks have been quite busy on this date throughout their long and storied history. On Nov. 6, 1941, Paul Thompson became the first coach in team history to begin a fourth season behind the bench. He led the Blackhawks to a 1-0 season-opening win over the New York Americans behind goaltender Sam Lopresti’s second career shutout.
Bobby Hull recorded four assists, on Nov. 6, 1968, in the Blackhawks’ 6-5 loss to the Red Wings. He finished his run in Chicago with 549 assists, which are still the fifth-most in franchise history.
Defenseman Doug Wilson, who is one spot ahead of Hull in assists, set a team record, on Nov. 6, 1983, by taking 12 shots on goal in a 6-3 loss at the Devils. Wilson will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November of 2021.
Dominik Hasek made his NHL debut, on Nov. 6, 1990, and stopped 28 shots in the Blackhawks’ 1-1 tie with the Hartford Whalers. He played the first 25 games of his career with the Blackhawks, who also had Ed Belfour on the roster at the time. He was eventually traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 1992 where he laid the foundation of his Hall of Fame career.
On Nov. 6, 1992, Mike Keenan resigned from his position as general manager, just a few months after the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup Final. He stepped down as the team’s head coach the previous summer to solely focus on his general manager duties. He was hired by the Rangers in 1993, where he and Messier won a championship in his lone season behind the bench in New York.
Mark Howe Grabs the Spotlight
Usually, when we focus on a member of the Howe family in this column, it is mentioning one of the numerous achievements of Gordie. However, this date saw his son, Hall of Fame defenseman Mark, keep the family tradition of success going.
Howe helped set a Philadelphia Flyers franchise record, on Nov. 6, 1986, for the fastest pair of shorthanded goals scored. He lit the lamp on the penalty kill just 32 seconds after teammate Murray Craven buried a shorthanded goal. Both tallies came in the first period of a 5-5 tie with the Devils.
Exactly six years later, on Nov. 6, 1992, Howe, now a member of the Red Wings, had three assists in a 5-2 win over the Whalers, at Joe Louis Arena. He retired with 742 points, in 929 NHL games, which has him 23rd among defensemen on the all-time scoring list. If you include his six seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA), Howe scored 1,246 points in his 22-season professional career.
Odds & Ends
The Flyers became the first team in league history, on Nov. 6, 1985, to score the opening goal in 12 straight games to start a season. Peter Zezel scored the historic goal in Philadelphia’s 5-2 road victory at the Rangers.
On Nov. 6, 1986, Scotty Bowman stepped down as Sabres’ head coach to concentrate on being the team’s general manager. Craig Ramsay was named as his replacement. He relinquished the GM job less than a month later and became a color commentator for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
Veteran defenseman Dave Lewis retired after playing in his 1,008th NHL game, on Nov. 6, 1987, and immediately was named assistant coach for the Red Wings. He eventually became head coach in Detroit, taking over for Bowman after he retired in 2002.
Tony Tanti picked an assist, on Nov. 6, 1988, in the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 loss in Boston. With the helper, he became just the fourth player to score 400 points with the team. Currently, 11 players have hit the 400-point mark in Vancouver. Tanti’s 470 points are the eighth-most in franchise history.
On Nov. 6, 1993, Kevin Stevens found the back of the net twice in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 8-3 loss at the Kings. He became just the fourth player to score 200 goals as a member of the Penguins. Since then, three more players joined the 200-goal club in Pittsburgh; Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
A decade later, on Nov. 6, 2003, Peter Forsberg became the third player in Colorado Avalanche franchise history to record 500 assists. Rookie Philippe Sauve, son of former goaltender Bob Sauve, recorded his first NHL victory as the Avalanche beat the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 2-1. Forsberg’s 538 assists are still the third-most in franchise history behind Joe Sakic and Peter Stastny.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his 300th career goal, on Nov. 6, 2015, in the Red Wings 2-1 road victory in Toronto. He joined Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov as the only players in team history with 300 goals, 500 assists and 800 points.
The Anaheim Ducks continued their dominance of the Calgary Flames, on Nov. 6, 2016, with a 4-1 victory. This win set an NHL record for the most consecutive regular-season home wins against one team. Ryan Kesler’s two goals led the way in the Ducks’ 24th straight win on home ice over the Flames, a streak that started on Jan. 19, 2004.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 19 players who have skated in the NHL have been born on Nov. 6. Some of the most accomplished players of this group include Marty Pavelich (93), Erik Cole (42), Brad Stuart (41), Sam Reinhart (25), Isac Lundestrom (21) as well the late Joe Klukay and Albert Langlois.