Today in Hockey History: Sept. 25

Two of the most storied franchises in NHL history were officially added to the league on this date. Plus, three key players from the most successful teams of the 1970s were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Finally, one of the best offensive defensemen the game has ever seen made a huge announcement. The THW time machine is warmed up and ready to take back through the decades, so let’s hop aboard.

Two Historic Franchises Added

On Sept. 25, 1926, the NHL announced the approval of two new franchises in Chicago and Detroit for the upcoming season. The league added a second team in New York, the Rangers, earlier in the year and entered the 1926-27 season with 10 teams competing in two divisions.

The new Chicago franchise was owned by Major Frederic McLaughlin. He named the team the Black Hawks, after the 86th Infantry Division of the United States Army, which he served during World War I. They changed the name to Blackhawks in 1986. The franchise won its first of six Stanley Cup championships in 1934.

The Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL) folded after the 1925-26 season concluded, and all the players were purchased by the new team in Detroit. The Cougars’ name was kept for their first four seasons. They changed their name to the Falcons in 1930 before adopting the famous Red Wings name in 1932. The franchise won its first of 11 Stanley Cup championships in 1936.

Related – The Detroit Red Wings Lack a Modern-Day Rivalry

The Blackhawks and Red Wings have faced each other 749 times, the third-most games between any two teams in NHL history. The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins have squared off 754 times, and the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have played each other 761 times. Detroit leads the all-time series over the Blackhawks 372-277-84-16.

70s Stars Headline New Hall Class

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted five new members on Sept. 25, 1984. Goaltenders Bernie Parent and forwards Phil Esposito and Jacques Lemaire were voted in as players, while builders Punch Imlach and Jake Milford were enshrined as well.

Parent was the man between the pipes for the most successful era of Philadelphia Flyers hockey. After 57 games with the Bruins, Parent was selected by the Flyers in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. Philadelphia traded him to Toronto in 1971 before playing the 1972-73 season in the World Hockey Association (WHA). He was traded back to the Flyers before the 1973-74 season and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 1975
Parent collected a lot of hardware with the Flyers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

In his first two seasons with the Flyers, he won 47 and 44 games. He won the Vezina Trophy in 1974 and 1975, which, at the time, was given to the goaltender who allowed the fewest goals. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the playoffs in both the Flyers championship runs in 1974 and 1975. He had a combined .928 save percentage (SV%) and 1.95 goals-against average (GAA). He is still the Flyers’ all-time leader with 50 shutouts.

Esposito was one of the colorful and successful stars of the 1970s. He broke into the league with the Blackhawks in 1963.

Esposito began his career in Chicago. (THW Archives)

After a dispute over money, he was traded to the Bruins in 1967, where he became one of the greatest goal scorers in league history. He scored 76 goals during the 1970-71 season, starting a streak of five straight seasons of at least 55 goals.

On Nov. 7, 1975, Esposito was traded to the Rangers for Brad Park and Jean Ratelle. He was very emotional to leave the Bruins and play for a hated rival, but he got over that quickly. While he never reached the numbers he did in Boston, Esposito still had five successful seasons in New York. When he retired after 18 seasons in 1981, he scored 717 goals and 1,590 points in 1,282 games.

Esposito won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins in 1970 and 1972. He was a five-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy for leading the NHL in scoring and two Hart Trophies for being voted the league’s most valuable player.

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Lemaire spent his entire 12-season career with the Canadiens. He scored 366 goals and 835 points in 853 games. His best season came in 1972-73 when he scored a career-high 44 goals and 95 points. He was a member of eight Stanley Cup championship teams in Montreal. In fact, all three of these players were members of the only three teams to win the Stanly Cup during the 1970s.

Imlach served as both general manager and head coach of the Maple Leafs and was behind the bench for all four Stanley Cup wins during the 1960s. After being fired in Toronto, he became the first head coach and general manager of the Buffalo Sabres in 1970.

Milford built the Brandon Wheat Kings, now in the Western Hockey League, into a powerhouse organization in the 1960s. He also spent time as the general manager of both the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks.

Odds & Ends

On Sept. 25, 1987, New York Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin announced that the 1987-88 season would be his final one in the NHL. Potvin scored 19 goals and 51 points in his last season. He retired with 310 goals and 1,052 points, which were the most in league history for defensemen at the time. He won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders and three Norris Trophies as the best blueliner in the league.

Denis Potvin New York Islanders
Potvin retired as the highest-scoring defenseman in league history. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Russian goaltender Peter Skudra on Sept. 24, 1997. He spent three seasons with the Penguins, primarily as a backup. In 74 games, he picked up 26 wins with a .894 SV% and 2.71 GAA.  He also spent time with the Sabres, Bruins, and Canucks before returning to play in Russia in 2003.

The NHL announced on Sept. 25, 2002, that the Minnesota Wild would host the 2004 All-Star Game. The game was played on Feb. 8, 2004, and saw the Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference 6-4. Despite being on the losing side, Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche won MVP honors for scoring a hat trick. This was the last All-Star game played until 2007.

On Sept. 25, 2019, the Seattle Kraken made history when they hired Cammi Granato as the first female pro scout in NHL history. Granato was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 after a legendary career that included a gold medal with Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympics. She is now an assistant general manager with the Canucks, one of the first women to hold that role in the NHL.

Happy Birthday to You

There have been 17 current and former NHL players who were born on Sept. 25. The first to debut in the league was Ed Gorman, born on this date in 1892. The defenseman played 111 games for the original Ottawa Senators and Maple Leafs between 1924 and 1928. The most recent was made by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Calle Jarnkrok in 2014 with the Nashville Predators. He is celebrating his 31st birthday today.

Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators, Fantasy Hockey
Happy Birthday, Calle Jarnkrok (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Other notable players born on this date include Toni Lydman (45), Matt Carle (38), and the late Carol Vadnais, who was part of the big Esposito trade between the Bruins and Rangers.

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen

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