Today in Hockey History: Sept. 11

This date has been very busy over the years in the National Hockey League. There was the addition of two teams. The Hall of Fame officially began, multiple captains were named, a big international game was played, and exhibition contests took place all over the globe. Let’s begin our daily trip back in time to relive all the top moments from Sept. 11.

Two New Teams Welcomed In

The NHL expanded from 12 teams to 14 on Sept. 11, 1969, announcing that Buffalo and Vancouver were awarded new franchises. The Sabres and Canucks both joined the league for the 1970-71 season. They both play in the East Division when they officially enter the fold, while the Chicago Blackhawks move to the West Division.

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The two newest NHL cities beat out bids from Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Washington DC. Eventually, except for Baltimore, all these cities get an NHL franchise with varying degrees of success. A group in Vancouver previously tried to buy the Oakland Seals and relocate them but were denied.

An Important Date for Hall of Fame

Perhaps no date is more important than this one for the Hockey Hall of Fame. The NHL approved the proposal to start the Hall on Sept. 11, 1943. The first class of 12 members was inducted in 1945. This group included Hobey Baker, Charlie Gardner, Howie Morenz, and Georges Vezina. The first physical building opened at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in 1961.

On Sept. 11, 1995, the Hall of Fame inducted its 43rd class in Larry Robinson, Fred “Bun” Cook, Bill Torrey, and Gunther Sabetzki.

Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Robinson never missed the playoffs. (THW Archives)

Robinson headlined the class after a 20-season career with the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings. He played 1,384 total games, scoring 208 goals and 958 points. He won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and two Norris Trophies for being the best defenseman in the league. He played in the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of his 20 seasons.

Cook played in 477 games between 1926 and 1937, scoring 158 goals and 304 points. The left winger played 10 seasons for the New York Rangers before one last go-round with the Bruins during the 1936-37 season. He was part of two Stanley Cup championships with the Rangers.

Sabetzki founded the German Ice Hockey Federation in 1963 and was president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) from 1975 until 1994. Torrey was the architect of the New York Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty of the 1980s and was their first general manager from their inception in 1972 until 1992. He also was the first general manager of both the Seals and the Florida Panthers.

A Busy Date for Captains

A total of four sweaters had a “C” added to them on this date. On Sept. 11, 1995, the Blackhawks named Chris Chelios their new captain. He replaced Dirk Graham, who retired following the 1994-95 season. Chelios remained the team captain until he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 1999.

Two years later, on Sept. 11, 1997, the Panthers named Scott Mellanby as their new captain, just the second ever in team history. He replaced Brian Skrudland, who had signed with the Rangers during the offseason. He wore the “C” until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2001 and was replaced by Pavel Bure.

Dave Andreychuk became the seventh captain in Tampa Bay Lightning history on Sept. 11, 2002. He remained captain for three seasons and retired as a Stanley Cup champion in 2006.

A year later, on Sept. 11, 2003, the Columbus Blue Jackets made Luke Richardson the third captain in their history. He remained in this role for nearly two seasons before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and replaced by Adam Foote.

Odds & Ends

On Sept. 11, 1952, the Blackhawks traded future Hall of Fame goaltender Harry Lumley to the Maple Leafs for fellow netminder Al Rollins, forwards Ray Hannigan and Cal Gardner, and defenseman Gus Mortson. Lumley went on to win 103 games over the next four seasons in Toronto. Rollins played in 308 games for the Blackhawks over five seasons and went 81-171-56. Mortson played six seasons for the Blackhawks, Gardner was there for one, and Hannigan never suited up for Chicago.

The Calgary Flames signed undrafted free agent Joel Otto on Sept. 11, 1984, after his college career at Bemidji State. Otto played in 730 games over 11 seasons for the Flames, scoring 167 goals and 428 points. He scored six goals and 19 points in 22 postseason games during Calgary’s 1989 run to the Stanley Cup.

The first game of the best-of-three championship series of the Canada Cup, between Canada and the Soviet Union, was played on Sept. 11, 1987, at The Forum in Montreal. Mike Gartner gave Canada a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, but the Soviets scored the game’s next four goals.

The home team stormed back in the second half of the game to take a 5-4 lead with goals by Ray Bourque, Doug Gilmour, Glenn Anderson, and Wayne Gretzky. However, Andrei Khomutov tied the game just 32 seconds after Gretzky’s goal. Alexander Semak won the game for the USSR just 5:33 into the overtime session.

On Sept. 11, 1993, the Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 5-3 in the first of two exhibition games at London’s Wembley Arena. They scored another victory, 3-1, on the following day to win the French’s Mustard Cup. That wasn’t the last Cup this Rangers team won as the 1993-94 season ended with their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years.

The Atlanta Thrashers took to the ice for the first time on Sept. 11, 1999, as they beat the Nashville Predators in a preseason contest.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 27 current and former NHL players have been born on this date. Born on Sept. 11, 1922, Wes Turner was the first to debut in the NHL. He played in 17 games for the Rangers in 1949. The most recent is Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson, who turns 22 today.

Nick Robertson Toronto Maple Leafs
Happy Birthday, Nick Robertson! (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Other notable players born on this date include Craig Billington (57), Mike Comrie (43), Zack Stortini (38), Ben Scrivens (37), Teuvo Teravainen (29), and Ross Colton (27).

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