Today in Hockey History: Oct. 8

Oct. 8 is another extremely busy day in NHL history. One of its greatest players ever signed his first professional contract. This date has seen a little bit of everything, including some big moments in California and Montreal, a new fixation with rats, and the league’s first-ever third-generation player. So. let’s climb inside the THW time machine and take our daily trip back through the decades.

Red Wings Sign a Legend

The Detroit Red Wings forever changed their franchise on Oct. 8, 1946, when they signed 18-year-old Gordie Howe to his first contract. He made his NHL debut eight days later and started a professional career that lasted until 1980.

Related – Remembering Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe

Howe earned the nickname “Mr. Hockey” during his 25 seasons with the Red Wings. He retired in 1971 but returned to the ice in 1973 for the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association (WHA). He played in all six WHA seasons every played and got to skate alongside his sons Mark and Marty.

Gorde Mark Marty Howe Houston Aeros 1975
Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe, Houston Aeros, 1975 (THW Archives)

When the Hartford Whalers merged into the NHL in 1979, Howe was back for one more season. He was the first player to ever play in a league game after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. When he retired at the age of 52 at the season’s end, he held all-time records with 1,767 games played, 801 goals, and 1,850 points.

A Pair of Firsts in California

After losing both games of a home-and-home series to the Vancouver Canucks, the San Jose Sharks picked up their first win in franchise history on Oct. 8, 1991. Kelly Kisio scored the game-winning goal, with just over three minutes to play, in a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. He and Pat Fallon each had a goal and an assist in the contest. Goaltender Brian Hayward made 36 saves to get the Sharks in the win column for the first time.

Two years later, on Oct. 8, 1993, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim made their NHL debut by hosting the Red Wings at the Arrowhead Pond. Defenseman Sean Hill earned his spot in franchise history by scoring the Ducks’ first-ever goal. However, the boys from Motown were too tough for the expansion team as Detroit rolled to a 7-2 win.

A Big Date in Montreal

When you have been as successful as the Montreal Canadiens, you will have a lot of big moments on many dates, and Oct. 8 is no exception. On this date in 1955, the Habs became just the third ever to start a season with back-to-back shutouts. Hockey Hall of Famer Jacques Plante picked up the 12th shutout of his career in a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins.

John Ferguson made his memorable league debut on Oct. 8, 1963. He got into a fight in his very first shift. He later scored two goals and added an assist to complete the “Gordie Howe” hat trick in a 4-4 tie with the Bruins. He got to play his first NHL game on a line with Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion. Not too shabby!

Ferguson made his debut on this date in 1963. (THW Archives)

On Oct. 8, 1974, Doug Jarvis suited up for the Canadiens and began the NHL’s longest streak of consecutive games played. He would not come out of the lineup again until Oct. 10, 1987, when he was a member of the Hartford Whalers. In total, Jarvis played in 964 straight games with the Canadiens, Washington Capitals, and Whalers.

Finally, on Oct. 8, 1997, goaltender Andy Moog recorded his 26th career shutout, and first with the Canadiens, in Montreal’s 3-0 victory at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vladimir Malakov assisted on all three goals.

New Captains Named

Three new captains were named on this date in 2002. First, the Bruins named Joe Thornton the 18th captain in team history, replacing Jason Allison. He remained captain until he was traded to the Sharks in 2005. The following season, Zdeno Chara was named captain, and wore the “C” until 2020.

Next, Greg Johnson became the second captain of the Nashville Predators. He replaced Tom Fitzgerald, who filled the role since the team joined the league in 1998.

Finally, Alexei Zhamnov replaced Tony Amonte as the Blackhawks’ team captain. He was just the fourth Russian-born player in the league to have a “C” sewn onto his sweater.

One year later, on Oct. 8, 2003, Jarome Iginla took over the captaincy of the Calgary Flames. He remained as captain until he was traded to the Penguins in 2013.

Dustin Brown was named captain of the Kings on Oct. 8, 2008, taking over for Rob Blake. He held on to this honor for the next eight seasons and was the captain for both the Kings’ Stanley Cups in 2012 and again in 2014.

Odds & Ends

On Oct. 8, 1957, Glenn Hall recorded his 18th career shutout, and first with the Chicago Blackhawks, in a 1-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ted Lindsay scored the game’s only goal at 15:08 of the second period.

Glenn Hall
Hall picked up his first shutout with the Blackhawks on this date in 1957. (THW Archives)

When Craig Patrick took to the ice for the California Golden Seals on Oct. 8, 1971, he became the first-ever third-generation player in NHL history. His grandfather, Lynn, and father, Lester, were already members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Craig was inducted himself, as a builder in 2001, for his front office work with the Rangers and Penguins.

Hockey Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier made his NHL debut for the New York Islanders on Oct. 8, 1975. He did not find the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Scouts.

Speaking of the Scouts, the franchise picked up its first win as the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 8, 1982. They scored a 3-2 win over their new rivals, the New York Rangers, at the Byrne Arena.

The Islanders and Capitals played the first regular-season overtime game since 1942 on Oct. 8, 1983. After New York’s Bobby Nystrom tied the game in the final minute of regulation, Bob Bourne scored in overtime to give the Islanders an 8-7 victory.

Bobby Nystrom New York Islanders
Nystrom forced the first regular-season overtime in 41 years. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Greg Adams made a heck of a debut for the Canucks on Oct. 8, 1987, at the old Pacific Coliseum. He scored four goals and his first career hat trick in an 8-2 blowout of the St. Louis Blues. Tony Tanti also had four assists in the route.

On Oct. 8, 1988, Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque picked up four assists for his 700th NHL point, as Boston beat the Whalers, 6-2, in Hartford.

On that same night, Quebec Nordiques’ rookie Joe Sakic scored the first goal of his NHL career in a 5-3 loss to the Devils. Exactly one year later, Sakic scored his third career hat trick and added an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Nordiques lost to the Whalers 9-6.

Joe Sakic, Quebec Nordiques
Sakic did some damage with the Nordiques on this date. (THW Archives)

The “Rat Craze” was born in Florida on this date in 1995. Before the Florida Panthers’ home opener against the Flames, Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the dressing room. He proceeded to score two goals in the team’s 4-3 win, leading to his teammates calling his feat a “Rat Trick.”

Adam Oates scored his seventh career hat trick, and first with the Capitals, on Oct. 8, 1997.  He also added two assists for his 1,000th career NHL point as Washington beat the Islanders 6-3. Oates became the 47th player in league history to score 1,000 career points.

Related – The Best Undrafted Players in NHL History

On Oct. 8, 2000, rookie Brad Richards recorded his first two career NHL points with a goal and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning were beaten by the visiting Canucks 5-3.

The Blackhawks opened their home schedule on Oct. 8, 2003, with a 3-0 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild. This marked the third consecutive home opener in which goaltender Jocelyn Thibault recorded a shutout.

Antti Niemi made 34 saves on Oct. 8, 2014, to lead the Sharks to a 4-0 win over the Kings, who began the night raising a Stanley Cup championship banner.

Antti Niemi Sharks
Niemi spoiled the party in 2024. (Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

Niemi became the first goaltender since Turk Broda of the Maple Leafs, in 1941, to shut out the defending Cup champs in their season-opening game.

Happy Birthday to You

There have been 16 current and former NHL players born on this date over the years. The most notable of the group are John Blum (63), Fredrik Modin (48), Kevyn Adams (48), Raffi Torres (41), David Rundblad (32), Jordan Schmaltz (29), and Timo Meier (26).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen

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