This has been a very important date in the history of the National Hockey League. In addition to two franchise playing in their first games, Sept. 18 has been the birth date of four members of the Hockey Hall of Fame; three great players and one legendary coach.
A Pair of NHL Debuts
The Los Angeles Kings were one of six teams who joined the NHL for the 1967-68 season, doubling the size of the league from six to 12. On Sept. 18, 1967, they played their first-ever game in Guelph, Ontario. They lost 7-3 against the Minnesota North, another team from the expansion class of 1967. They beat the North Stars in a preseason rematch the following night.
Hall of Fame defenseman Red Kelly was behind the bench for Kings’ inaugural season. He led them to a 31-33-10 record and an appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They were defeated in seven games by the North Stars in the opening round.
Five years later, on Sept. 18, 1972, the New York Islanders made their NHL debut with their first preseason. The lost 4-1 to the Atlanta Flames, who were also joining the league that fall, in Drummondville, Quebec.
Phil Goyette started the 1972-73 season behind the Islanders bench, but he was dismissed after just six wins through the franchises’ first 48 games. Earl Ingarfield went 6-22-2 after replacing Goyette. The legendary Al Arbour took over for the start of the Islanders’ second season and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cullen Returns to the Ice
In April of 2017, Tampa Bay Lightning center John Cullen received some devasting news as a baseball-sized tumor was found in his chest and he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After undergoing chemotherapy and missing the entire 1997-98 season, Cullen was declared cancer-free in April of 1998.
On Sept. 18, 1998, he returned to the ice in the Lightning’s 3-1 preseason win over the Buffalo Sabres in Austria. Cullen played in four NHL games and six in the American Hockey League (AHL) during the 1998-99 season before retiring and becoming an assistant coach for the Lightning. His comeback and return to the league earned him the 1999 Bill Masterton Trophy.
Kessel Heads to Canada
On Sept. 18, 2009, the Boston Bruins traded Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a first and second-round draft pick in 2010 and another first-round pick in 2011. The Bruins used the two draft picks on Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Jared Knight, who never played in the NHL, was chosen with the second-round pick.
Kessel scored 181 goals and 394 points in six seasons with the Maple Leafs. In 2015, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a large package of players and he was a huge part of back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017. Ironically, Kasperi Kapanen, who was one of the top players received by the Maple Leafs in the deal, was recently traded back to the Penguins.
Odds & Ends
The Montreal Canadiens traded Hall of Fame center Newsy Lalonde, on Sept. 18, 1922, to the Saskatoon Sheiks of the old West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) for the rights to Aurel Joliat and $3,500.
Saskatoon traded Lalonde back into the NHL when the sent him to the New York Americans prior to the 1926-27 season. Joliat went on to play 16 seasons for the Canadiens, scoring 269 goals and 463 points. He joined Lalonde in the Hall of Fame after winning three Stanley Cups and the 1934 Hart Trophy for being the league’s most valuable player.
The Maple Leafs claimed Ted Hampson off waivers from the New York Rangers on Sept. 18, 1959. He made his league debut the following season and ended up playing in nearly 1,000 professional games between the NHL and World Hockey Association (WHA). He scored 108 goals and 353 points in 677 NHL games with five different teams.
On Sept. 18, 2015, Max Pacioretty is named the 29th captain the Canadiens franchise history and just the third to be born in the United States.
This honor was given to him after the team took a vote for their next captain. He joined some all-time greats like Chris Chelios, Bob Gainey, Serge Savard, Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard to wear the “C” on his Habs sweater. He remained captain until he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018.
Happy Birthday to You
Sept. 18 is the birth date of 24 current and former NHL players, including three Hall of Famers and, also, the greatest head coach in the history of the game.
The first player born of this group was Bun Cook, who was born on Sept. 18, 1903. He played in 477 games for the Rangers and Bruins between 1927 and 1937, scoring 158 goals and 304 points. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. The most recent is Colorado Avalanche defenseman, Conor Timmins, who turns 22 today.
Darryl Sittler, born on this date in 1950, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989. The former Maple Leafs captain scored 484 goals and 1,121 career NHL games that also saw him play for the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings. He still holds the NHL record for scoring 10 points in a single game versus the Bruins, on Feb. 7, 1976.
The final Hall of Fame player born on this date, in 1956, is Peter Stastny. He scored 450 goals and 1,239 points in 977 career NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues. He originally came to the NHL when he and his brothers, Anton and Marian, defected from Czechoslovakia and signed with the Nordiques in 1980. His sons Jan and Paul have both played in the NHL, with the latter still producing for the Golden Knights.
Although he never played a single game in the NHL, thanks to injury, Scotty Bowman became one of the legendary figures in hockey history from behind the bench. Born in Montreal, on Sept. 18, 1933, Bowman got his first head coaching job with the Blues in 1967 and promptly leads them to three straight Stanley Cup appearances.
Bowman returned home to coach the Canadiens in 1971 and won the Stanley Cup five times out of his eight seasons with the team, including four in a row. After some time with the Sabres, he won two more Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He took over as Red Wings’ head coach in 1993 and held that job until 2002, winning three more championships. He has gotten his name in the Stanley Cup four times as a front office member for the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
Other notable players born on Sept. 18 include Ralph Backstrom (83), Kelly Kisio (61), Tom Chorske (54) and Peter Budaj (38).