This date has been very important for Hall of Fame defensemen. One of the best of his generation learned he was switching teams and perhaps the greatest of all time signed his first professional contract. The THW time machine is waiting to take us back through the years and relive all the best memories from Sept. 3.
Bobby Orr Gets First NHL Deal
The Boston Bruins changed their franchise trajectory on Sept. 3, 1966, by signing a young 18-year-old defenseman. After owning his rights since he was 14, the Bruins finally signed Bobby Orr to a two-year contract worth $70,000, after a successful junior career with Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
Orr made an immediate impact by winning the Calder Trophy for being the top rookie of the 1966-67 season with 13 goals and 41 points. The following season, he helped the Bruins qualify for the postseason for the first time since 1959. He also won the Norris Trophy for being voted the best defenseman of the league. This was the first of his seven straight Norris Trophy wins.
The 1969-70 season saw Orr go from a star player to a hockey legend. In the regular season, he became the first, and still only, defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring. He scored 33 and 120 points, starting a stretch of six straight seasons of at least 101 points. The season ended with his iconic overtime goal to clinch the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup championship since 1941.
Orr played with the Bruins through the end of the 1975-76 season. He scored 264 goals and 888 points with an incredible plus-574 rating in 631 games.
Devils Awarded Stevens
Another Hall of Fame defenseman made news on this date. On Sept. 3, 1991, an arbitrator awarded Scott Stevens to the New Jersey Devils as compensation for the St. Louis Blues signing restricted free-agent forward Brendan Shanahan earlier in the summer.
The Blues gave up five first-round draft picks just a year earlier in order to sign Stevens away from the Washington Capitals. St. Louis was willing to part with center Rod Brind’Amour, goaltender Curtis Joseph and two draft picks, but the Devils insisted on getting Stevens.
Stevens went on to play in 956 games for the Devils over the next 13 seasons. He scored 93 goals and 430 points while posting a plus-282 and racking up 1,007 penalty minutes. He played a big role in all three of the Devils’ Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the 2000 postseason.
Old Rivals Make Big Trade
Two old “Original 6” rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, pulled off a blockbuster trade on Sept. 3, 1987. The Maple Leafs sent captain Rick Vaive, the first 50-goal scorer in franchise history, along with forward Steve Thomas and defenseman Bob McGill to the Blackhawks for forwards Ed Olczyk and Al Secord.
The Blackhawks got the better end of this deal when it was all said and done. Vaive scored 43 goals and 69 points during the 1987-88 season. He scored another 12 goals before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Adam Creighton during the following season.
Thomas scored 104 goals over four and a half seasons with the Blackhawks, including 40 in 1989-90. He and Creighton were traded to the New York Islanders in 1991 for Brent Sutter and Brad Lauer. McGill dressed in 281 games for the Blackhawks before being selected by the San Jose Sharks in the 1991 NHL Expansion Draft.
Olczyk scored 116 goals over the next four seasons in Toronto before he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets, along with Mark Osborne, in 1991, for Dave Ellett and Paul Fenton. Secord, who had three seasons of at least 40 goals for the Blackhawks, scored his 15 in his lone full season with the Maple Leafs. He was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers midway through the 1988-89 season for a draft pick.
Odds & Ends
The Los Angeles Kings acquired Hall of Fame center Bob Pulford on Sept. 3, 1970, from the Maple Leafs for forwards Garry Monahan with Brian Murphy. Pulford scored 30 goals and 50 points in two seasons with the Kings. Upon his retirement in 1972, he is named their head coach and remained behind the bench for five seasons, qualifying for the playoffs in four of them. Monahan scored 55 goals and 135 points in his five seasons with the Maple Leafs. Murphy never played an NHL game in Toronto.
The New York Rangers signed left wing Adam Graves, on Sept. 3, 1991, after spending the previous two seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He went on to play in 772 games in a Rangers’ uniform over the next 10 seasons and was a big part of their 1994 Stanley Cup win. He is third in franchise history with 280 goals and 10th with 507 points.
On Sept. 3, 2003, the Boston Bruins signed veteran goaltender Felix Potvin, who played 61 games for the Kings over the previous three seasons. The 2003-04 season was Potvin’s 13th and final one in the league. He appeared in 28 games while backing up Andrew Raycroft, going 12-8-6 with a .903 save percentage (SV%) and 2.51 goals-against average (GAA).
On Sept. 3, 2020, in Edmonton, goaltender Thatcher Demko made 48 saves in the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights to force a Game 7 in their Second Round series. J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes led the way for the Canucks with a goal and an assist each.
Happy Birthday to You
Sept. 3 is the birthdate of 23 current and former NHL players. The first of this group was Cliff Barton, born on this date in 1907, who played 85 games for Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Quakers, and Rangers in the 1930s. The most recent was Matthew Konan, turning 30 today, who played in two games for the Flyers in 2013.
Doug Bentley is the lone Hockey Hall of Famer of the group. He scored 219 goals and 543 points for the Blackhawks and Rangers between 1940 and 1954. His brother Max played with him in Chicago and is also in the Hall of Fame.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival, born on Sept. 3, 1978, played in 963 games, the most of these 23 players.
James Neal, celebrating his 34th birthday today, has scored the most goals with 294 and counting. Martin Starka, born on this date in 1972, had 460 points and 717 points, the most of any Sept. 3 birthday boys.
Other notable players born on this date include Gerry Meehan (75), Ron Delorme (66), Martin Gerber (47), Cristobal Huet (46), Jed Ortmeyer (43), and the late Brian Spencer.
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.