Today in Hockey History: Sept. 15

The date was a pretty big one for Canadian hockey. The national team won a pair of big tournaments and one of the greatest players to ever skate in the National Hockey announced his retirement.

The Rocket Calls it a Career

Maurice Richard officially announced his retirement on Sept. 15, 1960, after 18 seasons in the league. The man known as “The Rocket” put together one of the greatest careers in NHL history and became one of the game’s first superstar goal-scorers.

Richard spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, playing in 978 games and winning eight Stanley Cup championships. In the 1944-45 season, he became the first player to ever score 50 goals in a season and he did it in just 50 games. Two years later, he won the Hart Trophy for being the MVP of the 1946-47 season by scoring 45 goals and 71 points in 60 games.

Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens
Richard is a legend of the game. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The legendary winger scored at least 32 goals in nine of his 18 seasons. When he retired, his 544 goals were the most in NHL history. Since 1999, the league has given out the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy to the player who scores the most goals each season. Teemu Selanne was the first player to win the Richard Trophy and other stars who have won it include Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Jarome Iginla.

A Pair of Canada Cup Wins

The final game of the inaugural Canada Cup was played on Sept. 15, 1976. After beating Czechoslovakia 6-0 in the first game of the best-of-three championship series, Canada looked to close out the tournament at the old Montreal Forum.

Canada got off to a fast start a built a 2-0 lead just over three minutes into the game with goals from Gilbert Perreault and Phil Esposito. Milan Novy got the Czechs on the board with a power-play goal midway through the second period before Jaroslav Pouzar evened the score early in the final frame.

Bobby Clarke’s power-play tally gave the Canadians a 3-2 lead about five minutes later. Josef Augusta and Marian Stastny scored 59 seconds apart to give Czechoslovakia a 4-3 with four minutes to play. Bill Barber forced overtime by scoring with two minutes to play in regulation. In overtime, Toronto Maple Leafs star Darryl Sittler clinched the tournament 11:33 into the extra time.

Nine years later, on Sept. 15, 1987, the host country won another Canada Cup by closing out a memorable three-game series against the Soviet Union. Canada forced a third and final game, in Hamilton, Ontario, after Mario Lemieux’s hat trick led to a 6-5 double-overtime victory.

The Soviets quieted the crowd when Sergei Makarov scored just 26 seconds into the game. They then built up a 3-0 lead by the eight-minute mark with goals from Alexei Gusarov and Slava Fetisov. Canada began their comeback when Rick Tocchet scored on a power play midway through the opening period. Brian Propp cut the lead to one before Andrei Khomutov scored with just 28 seconds left in the first period.

Canada dominated the second period, scoring three goals in six minutes to take a 5-4 lead. Defenseman Larry Murphy got things going with a power-play tally at the 29:30 mark. Brent Sutter tied the game with his first goal of the tournament just 96 seconds later. Dale Hawerhcuk broke the tie just over four minutes later.

They held onto the late into the third period before Alexander Semak drew the USSR even with less than eight minutes to play. Lemieux was the hero again as he scored his 11th goal of the tournament with 1:26 left to play to clinch the championship.

Wayne Gretzky, who played on the same line with Lemieux, was named the tournament MVP after picking up 18 assists and 21 points in just nine games.

A New Hall of Fame Class

On Sept. 15, 1981, the Hockey Hall of Fame opened its doors for four new members: Frank Mahovlich, Allan Stanley, John Bucyk and former NHL referee John Ashley.

Mahovlich’s NHL career spanned 1,181 games over 18 seasons before playing four seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA). He scored 533 goals and 1,103 points while playing for the Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Canadiens. He won a total of six Stanley Cups in his career, four with Toronto and two more with Montreal. He had 51 goals and 118 points in 137 Stanley Cup playoff games.

Frank Mahovlich
Mahovlich won six Stanley Cups in his Hall of Fame career. (THW Archives)

Stanley played in 1,244 games over 21 NHL seasons with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Maple Leafs and one final season with the Philadelphia Flyers. The defenseman was part of four Stanley Cup championships with Mahovlich in Toronto during the 1960s.

Bucyk started his career with the Red Wings before being traded to the Bruins in 1957 for goaltender Terry Sawchuk. He went on to play in 21 seasons for the Bruins, scoring 545 goals and 1,339 points in 1,436 games. He won the Stanley Cup with in 1970 and 1972 and is still the franchise’s all-time leader in goals.

John Bucyk Boston Bruins
Nobody has scored more goals in a Bruins uniform than Bucyk. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Ashley began his officiating career in 1959. He officiated every Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between 1964 and 1972.

Odds & Ends

Hall of Fame defenseman Sprague Cleghorn was named the new head coach of the Montreal Maroons on Sept. 15, 1931. The Maroons finished with a record of 19-22-7 under Cleghorn during the 1931-32 season, his only behind an NHL bench.

On Sept. 15, 1987, the New Jersey Devils traded forward Greg Adams and goaltender Kirk McLean to the Vancouver Canucks for center Patrick Sundstrom and a fourth-round pick in the1988 NHL Entry Draft. Sundstrom scored 86 goals and 246 points over the next five seasons for the Devils. He is most remembered for his eight-point playoff game versus the Washington Capitals in 1988.

McLean went on to play in 11 seasons for the Canucks and is their all-time leader in games played for a goalie (516) and is second in wins (211) and shutouts (20). Adams scored 179 goals and 369 points in 489 games for Vancouver. Both played big roles in the Canucks’ 1994 run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Veteran defenseman Brad McCrimmon signed with the Hartford Whalers on Sept. 15, 1993. He spent the next three seasons with the Whalers and played in 156 of his 1,222 games in Hartford.

The Canucks named Markus Naslund as their new captain on Sept. 15, 2000. He was the 11th captain in franchise history, replacing Mark Messier, who had returned to the Rangers in the offseason. The announcement came from Stockholm, Sweden following the Canucks’ 2-1 preseason overtime win over Djurgarden, the reigning Swedish Hockey League champions.

Simon Gagne announced his retirement on Sept. 15, 2015, after 822 NHL games. He was originally drafted by the Flyers in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

He spent his first 10 seasons with Philadelphia, scoring 259 goals and 524 points. After a season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gagne won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. The following season he was traded back to the Flyers. He finished out his career with one final season with the Bruins in 2014-15.

Happy Birthday to You

There have been 22 players who have skated at least one game in the NHL born on this date. The first to do so was Emory Sparrow, born on Sept. 15, 1898, who played in eight games for the Bruins in 1925. The most recent was David Wolf, who turns 31 today. He played in three games for the Calgary Flames in 2015.

There are currently no Hall of Famers born on this date, but that will change soon. Patrick Marleau was born on Sept. 15, 1979, and will be taking his place in Toronto soon enough. He has 562 goals and 1,118 points in 1,723 games played with the San Jose Sharks, Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Patrick Marleau Pittsburgh Penguins
Marleau spent the 2019-20 season with the Penguins. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

He will be joined in the Hall of Fame one day by Joel Quenneville, who is turning 62 today. Quenneville played in 803 games as a defenseman for the Maple Leafs, Colorado Rockies, Devils, Whalers and Capitals, but it’s his work as a head coach that’s his legacy. He has 925 wins, second only to the legendary Scotty Bowman, and won three Stanley Cups in six seasons behind the Blackhawks bench.

Other notable players celebrating birthdays today include Jerry Korab (72), Richard Brodeur (68), Ken Houston (67) and Ralph Klassen (65).


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