The most storied team in National Hockey League history signed one of their most legendary players on this date. Also, the first regular-season game outside of North America was played, an all-time great announced his retirement, and six new captains were named all across the league. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take back through the decades to revisit all the best memories from Oct. 3.
Beliveau Signs His First Deal
The Montreal Canadiens have had numerous legends of the game wear their uniform throughout the decades. A player at the top of that list is Jean Beliveau and he signed his first contract with the team on this date in 1953.
Beliveau inked a five-year contract with the Canadiens, worth a total of $105,000. The Habs had been trying to convince him to leave the Quebec Senior Hockey League (QSHL) for the previous three years, but he continually turned them down. Legend has it that Canadiens general manager Frank Selke became so frustrated with the ordeal that he purchased the QSHL and turned it into a professional league. Since the Canadiens owned Beliveau’s professional rights, he would be forced to play with them.
The rest, as they say, is history. Beliveau went on to score 507 goals and 1,219 points in 1,125 career games for the Canadiens. He was a two-time winner of the Hart Trophy for being the league’s most valuable player. He was part of 10 Stanley Cup championship teams before he retired in 1971. As an executive for the club, he was a part of seven more Cup victories.
Legendary Goalies Leave Their Mark
The Colorado Avalanche picked up their first win of the 1997-98 season, on Oct. 3, 1997, by beating the Calgary Flames 4-1. Patrick Roy made 26 saves to become just the eighth goaltender in league history to win 350 games. He won another 201 games, all with the Avalanche, before retiring in 2003.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Martin Brodeur set an NHL record by starting his 15th consecutive opening night game for the New Jersey Devils. He also joined Roy as the only two goaltenders to appear in 1,000 regular-season games. However, the Philadelphia Flyers spoiled the big night by beating Brodeur and the Devils 5-2.
A Pair of Hall of Fame Captains
The Los Angeles Kings named Rob Blake team captain on Oct. 3, 1996, replacing Wayne Gretzky, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues the previous season. Blake wore the “C” on his sweater until he was traded to the Avalanche in 2001. He returned to the Kings, via free agency in 2006, and served as captain again for the 2007-08 season.
On Oct. 3, 1997, the New York Rangers gave their captaincy to defenseman Brian Leetch, replacing Mark Messier. He played his first game as captain later that night, his 650th career contest in the NHL; a 2-2 tie with the New York Islanders. Leetch served as captain for the next three seasons until Messier returned to the team in 2000.
Four More Captains Named
On Oct. 3, 1998, Keith Primeau is named the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, replacing Kevin Dineen. He is the 11th captain in franchise history and the second since the team relocated from Hartford. He served just one season as he was traded to the Flyers the following offseason.
The Islanders gave their captaincy to Michael Peca on Oct. 3, 2001, just before he made his debut for the team. He was the ninth captain in team history, replacing Kenny Jonsson. He held onto the role for three seasons before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2005.
Zdeno Chara, known as “The Big Z,” got the big “C” added to his Bruins sweater on Oct. 3, 2006, taking over for Joe Thornton. He was captain for 14 seasons, tying Dit Clapper for the second-most in franchise history. Ray Bourque served as captain for 15 total seasons.
Finally, the Buffalo Sabres named Jack Eichel their captain on Oct. 3, 2018, replacing Brian Gionta. He is the second-youngest captain in team history, as Jim Schoenfeld was just a few weeks younger when he was named captain in 1975.
Odds & Ends
The Canadiens were busy on this date in 1934. First, they traded future Hall of Famer Howie Morenz, Marty Burke, and Lorne Chabot to the Blackhawks in exchange for Lionel Conacher, Roger Jenkins, and Leroy Goldsworthy. They then traded Conacher to the Montreal Maroons, along with Herb Cain, for Nels Crutchfield.
The ground was broken in Bloomington, MN, on Oct. 3, 1966, for the Metropolitan Sports Center. When finished, it became the home for the Minnesota North Stars, starting in 1967 until the team relocated to Dallas in 1993. The site is now the home of the Mall of America.
The first regular-season game outside of North America was played on Oct. 3, 1997. The Canucks beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 3-2, at the Yoyogi Arena in Tokyo. Vancouver got goals by Scott Walker, Messier, and Pavel Bure with Kirk McLean making 32 saves. The Ducks won the rematch, the following day, by the same 3-2 score.
On that same day, Devils’ head coach Jacques Lemaire earned his 200th career victory with a 4-3 win at the Tampa Bay Lightning. This also extended New Jersey’s unbeaten streak on opening night to nine straight seasons, improving their record to 7-0-2 during that span.
Paul Coffey announced his retirement, on Oct. 3, 2001, after 21 seasons in the NHL. He retired with 396 goals and 1,531 points and is still the second-highest scoring defenseman in league history behind Bourque. He won three Norris Trophies, for being voted the league’s top defenseman and four Stanley Cups; three with the Oilers and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Happy Birthday to You
An impressive group of 22 NHL players have been born on this date. The first was Andy Hebenton, who was born on Oct. 3, 1929. He scored 189 goals and 391 points, in 630 games, for the Rangers and Bruins between 1956 and 1964. The most recent is Canadiens forward Jesse Ylönen, who turns 22 today.
Goaltender Glenn Hall, born on Oct. 3, 1931, is one of two Hockey Hall of Famers of the group. He played 906 career games, including starting 501 straight games – a record that will never be broken. He won 407 games over 18 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Blues. He was a Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks in 1961 and he took home the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in 1968, despite the Blues losing the Stanley Cup Final to Montreal.
The other member of the Hockey Hall of Famer celebrating a birthday today is Jean Ratelle, who is turning 81. He scored 491 goals and 1,267 games with the Rangers and Bruins. He scored 43 goals and 109 points with the Rangers during the 1971-72 season. For his efforts, he won the Lester B. Pearson Award, now known as the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given out to the player voted as the most outstanding by players around the league.
Other notable players born on this date include Pat Flatley (58), Michael Nylander (49), Antti Laaksonen (48), Mike Johnson (47), Sheldon Brookbank (41), Mark Giordano (38), Seth Jones (27), and Artem Zub (26).
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.