Two of the most storied franchises in National Hockey League 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.
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.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings have faced each other 739 times, the third-most games between any two teams in NHL history. The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins have squared off 750 times and the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have played each other 747. Detroit leads the all-time series 369-271-84-15.
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 is 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 prior to the 1973-74 season and the rest, as they say, is history.
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.
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, he 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.
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.
Imach served as both general manager and head coach of the Maple Leafs and was behind the bench for all four of the 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 WHL, 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 final season. He retires 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.
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.
Happy Birthday to You
There have been 17 current and former NHL players who have been born on Sept. 25. The first to debut in the league was Ed Gorman, born on this date in 1892. The defenseman played in 111 games for the original Ottawa Senators and Maple Leafs between 1924 and 1928. The most recent NHL was made by Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok in 2014, who is celebrating his 29th birthday today.
Other notable players born on this date include Toni Lydman (43), Matt Carle (36) and the late Carol Vadnais, who was part of the big Esposito trade between the Bruins and Rangers.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.