Oct. 14 is a very important date in National Hockey League history as its greatest player lit the lamp for the very first time. Also, three expansion teams found the win column for the first time and plenty of personal milestones were reached by both players and coaches.
A Great Day for Gretzky
Oct. 14 is a very important day for “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky. On this date in 1978, he played in his very first professional game with the Indianapolis Racers in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Racers and the 17-year-old Gretzky lost to the Winnipeg Jets 6-3.
Exactly one year later, Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers were in the NHL. This was the night Vancouver Canucks’ goaltender Glen Hanlon became the answer to a trivia question as he allowed the first goal of Gretzky’s NHL career. The milestone came on a first-period power play. He also had an assist in the game, which finished in a 4-4 tie.
Eight years later, on Oct. 14, 1987, the Oilers lost 5-4 to the rival Calgary Flames. Gretzky scored his 545th career goal, in the second period, to move past Montreal Canadiens legend, Maurice Richard, on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Three Teams Make History
On Oct. 14, 1967, the Los Angeles Kings hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, a fellow expansion team, in their first-ever NHL game at the Long Beach Arena. Brian Kilrea scored the first goal in team history and added a second one later in the game as the Kings won 4-2 for their first win in the league.
The Jets became the first of four former WHA teams to beat an NHL franchise on Oct. 14, 1979. They beat the Colorado Rockies, 4-2, at the Winnipeg Arena for their first victory since merging into the NHL along with the Oilers, Hartford Whalers and Quebec Nordiques.
The Atlanta Thrashers became the second modern NHL franchise to get a shutout for the first victory in team history on Oct. 14, 1999. Goaltender Damian Rhodes made 20 saves in a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders. The Thrashers’ first win came in their fourth game in franchise history.
Plenty of Personal Milestones
On Oct. 14, 1972, Ron Ellis became the eighth player in Toronto Maple Leafs’ franchise history to score 200 goals. The milestone goal came in a 6-4 win over the visiting Kings. Ellis retired in 1981 with 332 goals, which is fourth on the team’s all-time goal list.
Michel Goulet scored the 100th goal of his career, on Oct. 14, 1982, in the Nordiques’ 4-4 tie with the Kings. Goulet finished his career with 548 goals.
The Buffalo Sabres beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 on Oct. 14, 1984. Reed Larson picked up an assist to give him 451 career points, the most by any defenseman in Red Wings’ franchise history. He broke the old record set by Red Kelly and held on to it until Nicklas Lidstrom passed him up in 2001.
Dino Ciccarelli scored a goal and an added assist, on Oct. 14, 1987, in the Minnesota North Stars’ 4-3 win against the Maple Leafs. This gave Ciccarelli 608 points to move past Bill Goldsworthy as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He remains fifth all-time with 651 points.
On Oct. 14, 1989, Al MacInnis became the first defenseman in Flames’ history to score 100 goals, scoring in a 4-4 tie with the Capitals.
Mike Gartner became the 16th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, on Oct. 14, 1991, in the New York Rangers’ 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. He was the first player to ever hit this milestone wearing a Rangers’ sweater. It was appropriate that goal 500 came against Washington, as Gartner broke into the league with the Capitals and scored the first 397 goals of his career for them.
Defenseman Phil Housley picked up his 500th career assist, on Oct. 14, 1992, in the Jets’ 7-3 win over the Oilers. Rookie Teemu Selanne scored the first of his 23 career hat tricks and added an assist to lead the offense.
Mark Hardy became the Kings’ career leader in games played by a defenseman, on Oct. 14, 1993, when he appeared in his 605th game. He broke the old record held by Jay Wells in a 4-4 tie with the Oilers. He has since been passed up by Mattias Norstrom, Rob Blake and Drew Doughty.
On Oct. 14, 2001, James Patrick became just the 14th defenseman in NHL history to record 600 career points and appear in 1,100 games. He accomplished this feat by scoring a goal in the Sabres’ 4-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mats Sundin became the first Swedish-born player to score 400 goals, on Oct. 14, 2002. He had his milestone goal and an assist, but it wasn’t enough as Mario Lemieux racked up four points, including the game-winning goal, as the visiting Penguins beat the Maple Leafs 5-4.
Long Island Memories
Islanders’ legend Denis Potvin set a team record with three goals in a span of 3:21, on Oct. 14, 1978, in a 10-7 defeat to the Maple Leafs. It was the third hat trick of Potvin’s NHL career.
Five years later, on Oct. 14, 1983, the Islanders raised their third straight Stanley Cup banner at the Nassau Coliseum prior to their home opener. They proved they weren’t going anywhere for the 1983-84 season as they whitewashed the Penguins 9-0. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Billy Smith earned the 16th shutout of his career.
Tommy Salo made 22 saves, on Oct. 13, 1998, in a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Lightning. With the win, the Islanders became the first NHL team since 1927 to shut out the same opponent in four straight meetings.
When Mike Sillinger scored for the Islanders, on Oct. 14, 2006, he made NHL history. His goal, in a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins, made him the first player to ever find the back of the net for 12 different teams.
A Busy Night in 2000
A pair of Hockey Hall of Fame goaltenders hit milestones on Oct. 14, 2000. When the Colorado Avalanche beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1, Patrick Roy earned his 447th career victory, tying Terry Sawchuk for the most wins in league history.
In Dallas, Ed Belfour became the 18th goaltender in NHL history to earn 50 shutouts in a 3-0 Stars’ win over the Capitals.
Jaromir Jagr scored four goals for the first time in his great career to lead the Penguins to an 8-6 win against the visiting Rangers. New York defenseman Brian Leetch picked up three assists in the contest to give him 600 in his career.
Vincent Damphousse picked up his 1,000th career point with an assist in the San Jose Sharks 5-2 win versus the Bruins. He became the 58th player in NHL history to score at least 1,000 points.
Odds & Ends
The Red Wings purchased the contract of Ted Lindsay, on Oct. 14, 1964, from the Chicago Blackhawks. Lindsay had retired in 1960 but came back for one final season in Detroit, where he spent the first 14 seasons of his career. He scored 14 goals and 28 points in 69 games during the 1964-65 season.
The longest unbeaten streak in NHL history began on Oct. 14, 1979. The Flyers beat the Maple Leafs, 4-3, at the old Spectrum, starting a 35-game undefeated streak that saw Philadelphia go 25-0-10. They would not lose until they were beaten by the North Stars on Jan. 7, 1980.
On Oct. 14, 1988, the Red Wings and Blues tied 8-8 in their season opener. This was the first time in Detroit’s franchise history, spanning 63 years and 4,052 games, that a game of theirs ended with the score tied 8-8.
The Bruins beat the Avalanche 2-1, on Oct. 14, 2002, thanks to Sergei Samsonov’s goal at 19:59 of the third period. He became just the third player in team history to score a goal in the final second of regulation. It gave Boston their 1000th road win in team history, become only the second team to reach that total.
Two coaching greats hit personal milestones on Oct. 14, 2017. First, the Stars beat the Avalanche 3-1 to give head coach Ken Hitchcock the 783rd win of his career, putting him ahead of Al Arbour for the third-most victories in league history.
On that same night in Toronto, Mike Babcock became just the 16th head coach to win 600 games in the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 overtime victory over the Canadiens. This snapped a streak of 14 straight wins for the Habs over their hated rivals.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 21 current and former NHL players have been born on Oct. 14. The most notable of the group includes Dave Schultz (71), Perry Anderson (59), Sylvain Lefevre (53), Scott Mayfield (28), Nikita Soshnikov (27) and Quinn Hughes (21).