Oct. 8 is another extremely busy day in National Hockey League 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.
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.
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.
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 season’s end, he held the 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 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 Pont. 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 are going to 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 league debut, on Oct. 8, 1963 and it was a memorable one. He got into a fight in his very first shift. He later scored two goals and added assist to complete the “Gordie Howe” hat trick in a 4-4 tie with the Bruins. He got to play is first NHL game on a line with Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion. Not too shabby!
On Oct. 8, 1974, Doug Jarvis suited up the Canadiens 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, who still wears the “C” to this day.
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 Blackhawks’ team captain. He was just the fourth Russian-born player in the league to have a “C” sewn on to his seater.
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 win, 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.
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 both 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 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.
Greg Adams made a heck of a debut for the Vancouver Canucks, on Oct. 8, 1987, at the old Pacific Coliseum. He scored four goals, his first career hat trick, in an 8-2 blowout of the St. Louis Blues. Tony Tanti 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.
The “Rat Craze” was born in Florida on this date in 1995. Just prior to 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.
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.
Niemi became the first goaltender since Turk Broda of the Maple Leafs, in 1941, to shutout 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 (61), Fredrik Modin (46), Kevyn Adams (46), Raffi Torres (39), David Rundblad (30), Jordan Schmaltz (27) and Timo Meier (24).