One of the greatest scorers in National Hockey League history hit a milestone on this date that very few players have ever reached. This date has been very kind to Boston hockey fans and has seen a ton of hats get thrown onto the ice. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take us all back through the decades to revisit all the best moments from Oct. 23.
Messier Nets No. 600
Mark Messier became the 10th player in NHL history to score 600 goals on Oct. 23, 1998, in the Vancouver Canucks’ 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers. Alexander Mogilny set up the milestone goal as Messier blasted the puck past former longtime Canucks’ goaltender Kirk McLean.
Messier scored 694 goals before in retired in 2004, still the ninth-most in NHL history. He is third all-time with 1,756 games played and is third in assists with 1,193. His 1,887 points are third behind only his longtime teammate Wayne Gretzky and Jaromir Jagr.
Bean Town Memories
The Boston Bruins have had plenty of big moments on this date throughout their long and storied history.
On Oct. 23, 1966, perhaps the greatest Bruin of them all, Bobby Orr, scored the first goal of his legendary career. It wasn’t the most glorious of goals as his slap shot from about 50 feet out made it past Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Gump Worsley. The milestone tally tied the game with about four minutes to play, but Jean-Guy Talbot scored about two minutes later to win it for the Habs.
Eight years later, on Oct. 23, 1974, Orr scored his sixth career hat trick and added an assist as the Bruins tied 5-5 at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Johnny Bucyk played in his 1,447th regular-season NHL game on Oct. 23, 1976, as the Bruins beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. He moved past Toronto Maple Leafs’ legend Tim Horton into third place all-time for games played behind Gordie Howe (1,687) and Alex Delvecchio (1,549).
Rookie goaltender John Grahame picked up his first NHL victory on Oct. 23, 1999, as the Bruins ended their season-opening nine-game winless streak (0-5-4) with a 3-1 victory at the San Jose Sharks. Grahame won seven games during the 1999-2000 season. He won 97 games over his eight-season NHL career, with the first 29 coming with the Bruins.
Islanders’ Greats Leave Their Mark
On Oct. 23, 1980, Bryan Trottier became the first player to score 200 goals as a member of the New York Islanders. The milestone came in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Spectrum. Trottier scored exactly 500 goals with the Islanders, the second-most in franchise history behind Mike Bossy’s 573.
Four years later, on Oct. 23, 1984, the Islanders beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 at the Nassau Coliseum. Denis Potvin became just the third defenseman in league history to earn 600 career assists. There have been 10 more blueliners to pick up 600 assists since this date.
A Memorable Date for the Sutter Family
Rookie Rich Sutter scored the first goal of his NHL career on Oct. 23, 1983, as the Flyers beat the Maple Leafs 8-5. The goal made the Sutters the first family in league history to have six different brothers score a goal. Rick Vaive scored the fourth career hat trick in the losing effort for Toronto.
One year later, in the same game where Potvin earned his 600th assist, Brent Sutter scored his third career hat trick, and added an assist in the victory over the Canucks.
The second generation of Sutters eventually started to make their way into the NHL. On Oct. 23, 2008, Brandon Sutter, the son of Brent, scored the first goal of his career. The milestone came as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
A Huge Night for Hat Tricks
Bobby Hull kicked off his season on Oct. 23, 1965, by scoring a hat trick in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-0 win at the Maple Leafs. Hull finished his 1965-66 season with a career-high 54 goals, becoming the first player ever to score more than 50 goals in a single season.
Curt Bennett and Eric Vail both scored their first career hat tricks on Oct. 23, 1974, in the Atlanta Flames’ 10-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Bennett added two assists while Tom Lysiak chipped in with a goal and four helpers.
Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne scored four goals and added an assist on Oct. 23, 1979, as the Los Angeles Kings beat Colorado Rockies 7-4. It was the 16th hat trick of Dionne’s NHL career.
Ulf Dahlen scored the first three goals of his NHL career on Oct. 23, 1987, and Tomas Sandstrom had a goal, and three assists as the New York Rangers beat the Blackhawks 7-3.
October 23, 1993, was a huge night for scoring goals. The Islanders and the Ottawa Senators skated to a 5-5 tie on Long Island. Derek King and Sylvain Turgeon both scored their fifth career hat tricks for the Isles and Sens, respectively.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Flyers 9-6 in a crazy game. Keith Tkachuk scored his first career hat trick, Teemu Selanne had two goals and three assists, and Alexei Zhamov had a goal and four assists to lead the Jets’ offensive attack.
A decade later, on Oct. 23, 2003, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his third career hat trick as the Atlanta Thrashers beat the visiting Nashville Predators 4-2.
Odds & Ends
On Oct. 23, 1966, goaltender Ed Giacomin made 29 saves to record the first shutout of his NHL career, leading the Rangers to a 1-0 win over the Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. This was the first of his career-high nine shutouts during the 1966-67 season. He finished his 13-season career with 54 shutouts.
Guy Lafleur scored the first goal of his Hall of Fame career on Oct. 23, 1971, in a Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the Kings. He scored 518 goals over 14 seasons with the Habs. After retiring for three years, he came back to score 42 more goals over three seasons with the Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.
Capitals goaltender Michel Belhumeur faced two penalty shots on Oct. 23, 1974, and stopped them both. He denied both Jim Papin and Stan Mikita, but Washington still lost 3-2 at the Blackhawks.
Bobby Clarke became the first player to skate in 1,000 games for the Flyers on Oct. 23, 1982. He was held off the scoresheet in a 4-2 loss at the Penguins.
On that same night, rookie defenseman Al MacInnis picked up his first NHL point, an assist, in the Calgary Flames’ 5-5 tie in Toronto. Exactly 15 years later, on Oct. 23, 1997, MacInnis, now a member of the St. Louis Blues, played in his 1,000th career game.
Jari Kurri scored two goals and added an assist on Oct. 23, 1988, in the Oilers’ 6-5 loss at the Canucks. His two tallies gave him 401 career goals, making him the 27th player in league history to score at least 400 goals.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Oct. 23, 1993, to win their record-setting ninth straight game to start the season. Goaltender Felix Potvin made 25 saves for the shutout while Mark Osbourne scored a pair of goals.
Happy Birthday to You
There are just 10 former NHL players who have been born on this date, including late Hall of Fame forward Gordie Drillon and head coach and general manager Fred Shero.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.