Oct. 1 has been a very busy day over the years. The greatest player in National Hockey League history had his number retired by the team he started his career with. The greatest coach ever returned to the bench to lead another team to the promised land. There were new captains named, plenty of trades and even a retirement.
99 Heads to the Rafters
The Edmonton Oilers held a very special pregame ceremony, on Oct. 1, 1999, just prior to dropping the puck on the 1999-00 regular season. They retired Wayne Gretzky’s number 99, who had retired the previous April. It was rather appropriate that the New York Rangers were in town as they were the team the Gretzky finished his career with.
The sellout crowd at Skyreach Centre gave Gretzky a five-minute standing ovation as he was joined by many of his former teammates with the Oilers. In his nine NHL seasons with Edmonton, he scored 583 goals and 1,669, in just 696 games, while winning four Stanley Cup championships.
The Oilers could have used a few shifts out of Gretzky that night as the season opener ended in a 1-1- tie. The NHL followed suite in 2000 as they retired number 99 league-wide in the Great One’s honor.
On Oct. 1, 1991, Scotty Bowman returned to the coaching ranks as he took over the reins of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He took over for Bob Johnson, who stepped down for health reasons and passed away on Nov. 26, 1991.
Bowman leads a star-studded Penguins team to their second straight Stanley Cup championship. The following season, he takes the head coaching job with the Detroit Red Wings. He spends nine seasons behind the Red Wings’ bench and wins three more Cups.
Lindy Ruff made his NHL coaching debut on Oct. 1, 1997. He led the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. This was the first of 736 coaching wins, the sixth-most in league history. He will look to add to that total as he was hired by the New Jersey Devils this past July.
Islanders Pull Off Huge Deal
The New York Islanders made a trade with the Colorado Rockies, on Oct. 1, 1981, that paid off well for them. They sent defenseman Bob Lorimer and forward Dave Cameron to the Rockies for their first-round pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. They ended up using that pick, the third overall, to select future Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine.
LaFontaine went on to play 530 games for the Islanders, scoring 287 goals and 566 points, before being traded to the Sabres in 1991. Lorimer played five seasons for the Rockies and Devils where he scored 14 goals and 57 points. Cameron had 25 goals and 53 points in his three seasons with the team.
New Captains Named
The Ottawa Senators named Daniel Alfredsson their team captain, on Oct. 1, 1999, replacing Alexai Yashin. He was the seventh captain in franchise history since they join the league in 1992. He is the longest-serving captain as he remaining the role for the next 13 seasons until he signed with Red Wings in 2013.
The Los Angeles Kings named Mattias Norstrom captain, on Oct. 1, 2001, the seventh in franchise history. He replaced current Kings’ general manager Rob Blake, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche the previous season. He wore the “C” on his sweater until he was replaced by, ironically, Blake after he returned for a second stint with the team.
Shea Weber became the 30th team captain in Canadiens’ team history on Oct. 1, 2018. He took over for Max Pacioretty, who was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights during the offseason. Weber still serves as Habs’ captain.
Odds & Ends
On Oct. 1, 1992, the NHL named Gil Stein its fifth and final league president after spending the previous 15 years as vice president and legal counsel. He only held the job for about a year as the NHL created the commission position in 1993 and gave it to Gary Bettman.
The Red Wings beat the Calgary Flames 3-1, on Oct. 1, 1997, with Chris Osgood picking up the win in net. He became just the sixth goaltender in team history to win 100 games in a Red Wings sweater. He eventually won 317 games in Detroit, on Terry Sawchuk had more wins for the team with 350.
The Maple Leafs traded forward Fredrik Modin to the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Oct. 1, 1999, for defenseman Cory Cross. Modin scored 22 goals and 48 points during the 1999-00 season, the second-most on the team. He eight goals and 19 points in 23 postseason games, in 2004, as the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Cross played 162 games for Toronto before he signed with the Rangers in 2002.
Chris Drury was traded by the Avalanche to the Flames, on Oct. 1, 2002, along with forward with Stephane Yelle, for defenseman Derek Morris and forwards Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond. Drury scored 23 and 53 points in his only season with Calgary. He was traded to the Sabres the following offseason.
Scott Hartnell announced his retirement, on Oct. 1, 2018, after 17 seasons in the NHL.
He was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators with the sixth overall pick of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 1,249 total games with the Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring 327 goals and 707 points.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 24 current and former NHL players have been born on this date. The first was Doug Young, who was born on Oct. 1, 1908. He played in 388 games for the Red Wings and Canadiens between 1932 and 1941. The most recent debut came in 2020, by Red Wings forward Dmytro Timashov, who is celebrating his 24th birthday today.
Scott Young, who was born on this date in 1967, played in the 1,181 games and scored 342 goals, the most of anyone in this group. Cliff Ronning, turning 55 today, had the most assists and points, with 563 and 869, respectively.
Other notable players born Oct. 1 include Cliff Koroll (74), Igor Ulanov (51), Alex Zhamnov (50), Denis Gauthier (44), Johnny Oduya (39), Justin Dowling (30) and Alex Chiasson (30)