Nov. 8 has been a very eventful date in National Hockey League history. Arguably the greatest defenseman ever retired, while a legend scored his first goal and became the league’s all-time leader a decade apart. In addition, a new franchise was awarded, a whole slew of hat tricks was scored and plenty of franchise and personal milestones were reached.
Orr Hangs Them Up
In a press conference from Chicago, on Nov. 8, 1978, Bobby Orr officially announced his retirement from the NHL. He revolutionized the game for defensemen and is still considered the greatest blueliner to ever play.
He scored 270 goals and 915 points in 657 games during his illustrious career. Almost all of his success came with the Boston Bruins where he won two Stanley Cups, the Calder Trophy (top rookie), three Hart Trophies (regular-season MVP), two Conn Smythe Trophies (playoff MVP) and a record eight straight Norris Trophies (best defenseman). He is also the only defenseman to ever win the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring, doing so twice, in 1970 and 1975.
Severe knee injuries limited him to just 36 games over his final three seasons in the league, including just 26 in his two with the Blackhawks. We can only wonder what he could have done with today’s advancements in treating injuries.
The Rocket’s Favorite Date
Sometimes the stars align in the sports world to give you some great stats. Much like Hockey Hall of Famer Maurice Richard scoring his first career goal and becoming the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer on the same date, 10 years apart.
On Nov. 8, 1942, “The Rocket” scored his first career goal as part of the Montreal Canadiens’ 10-4 whitewashing of the New York Rangers. Fast forward to Nov. 8, 1952, and Richard struck for his 325th goal to help lead the Canadiens to a 6-4 victory over the Blackhawks. This broke his tie with Nels Stewart, who held the all-time goal-scoring mark since 1940.
Richard went on to play another seven season and finished his career with 544 goals. In the 60 years since his retirement, 30 players have passed his 544-goal mark, with the first being Gordie Howe in 1963.
More Memories in Montreal
Richard wasn’t the only member of the Canadiens to have big games on this date. On the same night Richard scored his first goal, Buddy O’ Connor was the offensive hero by scoring a goal and adding five assists. Four of those assists came in the third period to set a new NHL record.
Elmer Lach, who was a member of the famed “Punch Line” with Richard, became the fifth player to score 200 goals as a member of the Canadiens on the same night of his linemate’s historic goal in 1952. A total of 24 players have scored at least 200 goals in a Habs sweater, with the most recent being Max Pacioretty.
On Nov. 8, 1969, Jacques Lemaire scored his first career hat trick as the Canadiens’ 6-3 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. He went on to score seven regular-season hat tricks in Montreal and one in the postseason.
Goaltender Ken Dryden recorded his 42nd career shutout, on Nov. 8, 1978, as the Canadiens scored a 6-0 road win at the Washington Capitals. This was the first of five shutouts for Dryden during his final NHL season, who retired with 46 in his Hall of Fame career.
Hat Tricks Galore
Max Bentley scored his third career hat trick, on Nov. 8, 1945, to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-4 win at the Rangers. Four of his six career hat tricks came at the expense of New York, who he spent his final NHL season with in 1953-54.
On Nov. 8, 1977, Marcel Dionne scored three times as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Capitals 5-1. It was the 12th hat trick of Dionne’s career as he became the seventh player to score 100 career goals with the Kings. His No. 16 was retired by the team, exactly 13 years later, on Nov. 8, 1990. He scored 550 goals and 1.307 points in his 921 games for Los Angeles.
Mike Bossy scored his 10th career hat trick, on Nov. 8, 1980, in New York Islanders’ 7-3 win over the visiting Blackhawks. This came on the ninth anniversary of the NHL awarding the Islanders the rights to an expansion team.
Dave Lumley the second and final hat trick of his career, on Nov. 8, 1985, in the Edmonton Oilers’ 13-0 blowout of the Vancouver Canucks. Surprisingly, Wayne Gretzky did not score any of Edmonton’s 13 goals, but he did rack up four assists.
Dale Hawerchuk scored his 11th career hat trick and added two assists, on Nov. 8, 1998, to lead the Winnipeg Jets to an 8-4 win at the Quebec Nordiques. Andrew McBain chipped for the Jets with two goals and three assists.
Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, and Mike Donnelly all scored hat tricks, on Nov. 8, 1992, as the Kings rolled to an 11-4 road win at the San Jose Sharks. Robitaille’s ninth career hat trick made him the fourth player to ever score 300 goals with the Kings.
On that same night, Michel Goulet scored his 15th career hat trick to lead the Blackhawks to a 7-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, at the Chicago Stadium. He moved into 14th place on the all-time NHL goals list with 514, passing Buffalo Sabres’ legend Gilbert Perreault.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his first career hat trick, on Nov. 8, 2002, as the Tampa Bay Lightning won 4-1 over the visiting Penguins. Exactly one year later, he scored his third career hat trick, while goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin tied a franchise record with his 12th shutout as the Lightning beat the Penguins again, this time 9-0.
New Club Records
Sid Smith scored twice, on Nov. 8, 1950, as the Maple Leafs extended their team-record undefeated streak to 11 straight games (8-0-3) with a 5-3 win at the Rangers.
Dennis Kearns became the first player Canucks history to play in 500 games, on Nov. 8, 1978, during a 6-4 win at the Detroit Red Wings. Rookie Thomas Gradin led the scoring with two goals and an assist.
Two years later, on Nov. 8, 1980, the Canucks beat the Rangers 7-4 to set a franchise record with their seventh straight win on home ice.
On that same evening, Danny Gare set a Sabres’ team record with two goals in 10 seconds, in a 3-3 tie with the Capitals. The tie extended Buffalo’s unbeaten streak to eight straight games (6-0-2).
Al MacInnis became the Calgary Flames’ all-time leader in assists, on Nov. 8, 1989, when he recorded his 337th assist in a 5-4 win at Los Angeles. He had three helpers in the game to pass both Guy Chouinard and Paul Reinhart.
Chris Chelios became the Blackhawks’ all-time leader in career penalty minutes (PIM), on Nov. 8, 1998, in a 3-2 loss to the Oilers. He was called for two minor penalties to give him 1,444 PIM with Chicago, two more than Keith Magnuson.
Odds & Ends
The NHL played its first-ever game in St. Louis, on Nov. 8, 1934, as the Eagles hosted the Blackhawks in their home opener. 12,600 fans packed into the old St. Louis Coliseum but left disappointed as the Eagles lost 3-1. They went 11-31-6 in their only season before being forced to fold.
On Nov. 8, 1963, Maple Leaf Gardens, in Toronto, became the first NHL arena to install separate penalty-box doors for each team. The move came a week after the Leafs’ Bob Pulford and Terry Harper of the Canadiens had a fight in their shared penalty box, after an earlier scrap on the ice.
Billy Dea scored a goal, on Nov. 8, 1969, to help the Red Wings defeat the Bruins at Olympia Stadium. This was his first goal for the Wings since Nov. 28, 1957. His gap of 11 years, 11 months and 11 days were the longest in league history between goals scored for the same team. The record stood for 30 years until Randy Cunneyworth broke it with the Sabres in 1999.
Paul Coffey found the back of the net, on Nov. 8, 1991, in the Penguins’ 3-1 road victory at the Winnipeg Jets. This was his 311th career goal, passing Islanders’ great Denis Potvin for most in NHL history by a defenseman. He retired with 396 goals, which stood as the record until it was broken by Ray Bourque.
Speaking of high-scoring defensemen, on Nov. 8, 1997, Phil Housley’s assist in the Capitals’ 2-1 victory over the Oilers gave him 1,000 points in his career. He became just fifth defenseman and only second U.S.-born player to score 1,000 points in the NHL.
On Nov. 8, 2000, the Bruins named Jason Allison as the 16th captain in team history. He replaced Bourque, who was captain since 1987 before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the previous trade deadline. He wore the “C” on his sweater for just one season.
Goaltender Ed Belfour recorded his 406th win, on Nov. 8, 2003, in a 4-1 victory over the Oilers to move into sixth place on the NHL all-time win list. He retired with 484 wins, which are still the fourth-most in league history.
Joe Thornton became just the 19th NHL player to suit up for 1,000 games, on Nov. 8, 2018. He picked up the 1,032nd assist of his career in the Sharks’ 4-3 loss at the Dallas Stars.
Happy to Birthday to You
There are 14 current and former NHL players who share a birthday on Nov. 8. The biggest names of this lot are Mike Peluso (55), Keith Jones (52), Frantisek Kaberle (47), Shane Hnidy (45), Ondrej Kase (25) and the late Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower.