Wednesday may not have been a very busy day on the National Hockey League schedule, but there was plenty of goalie news to cover including some sweet retro gear, the first of many shutouts and a really cool crossover story.
Former Soccer Great Laces Up His Skates
We have had two-sport stars in the past, but it very rare that it ever involves ice hockey. In America, we have seen the likes of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders excel at both professional baseball and football. Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984 but made the right choice to continue his baseball career. Kirk McCaskill, who had a lengthy career as a pitcher for the California Angels and Chicago White Sox, was a Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of Vermont and played a season in the American Hockey League after being drafted by the Winnipeg Jets.
A story broke out of England on Wednesday that one of the best soccer goalkeepers of all-time was going to give hockey a try. Petr Cech, formerly of Chelsea and Arsenal of the Premier League, traded in his cleats for some skates and signed a contract with the semiprofessional Guildford Phoenix ice hockey club.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get the match experience,” the 37-year-old Cech said in a statement released by the club. “I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play.
“After 20 years of professional football, this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid.”
We will definitely keep track of Cech’s progress as he makes the transition from the pitch to the rink.
Hart Grabs His First Doughnut
The Philadelphia Flyers returned home after starting their season with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic last Friday. They improved to 2-0-0 with a 4-0 victory over their rivals, the New Jersey Devils, Wednesday night.
Goaltender Carter Hart made 25 saves to record his first career NHL shutout. His performance included robbing Taylor Hall of what appeared to be a sure goal, while on a two-man advantage, late in the second period.
“Anytime you have a milestone, it is definitely pretty cool,” Hart said after the victory. “But I think it’s huge that we came out so hard in our home opener. The fans were really getting into it. We gave them something to cheer about, so I think that was a huge effort by us tonight to come out so hard.”
Shutouts are nothing new for Cart. He picked up a shutout in his first-ever Western Hockey League start for the Everett Silvertips as a 16-year-old. He finished his WHL career with 26 shutouts, tying him with Tyson Sexsmith for the most in league history.
Hart made more history with his performance as he became the youngest Flyers goaltender to ever post a shutout. He also became just the eighth goaltender, 21-years-old or younger, in NHL history to win the first two games of the season for his team.
McLean Breaks Out His Old Threads
Wednesday night was a big night for the Vancouver Canucks as they opened the home portion of their history 50th season. The pre-game ceremony was one for the ages as not only did the name Bo Horvat the 14th captain in team history, but they also brought out many of the great names from the past.
Invited to the ceremony was one of the best goaltenders in Canucks history, Kirk McLain, who rocked the same gear he wore in the Canucks run to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
McLain holds the team record for most games played by a goaltender with Kirk McLean. He is second in franchise history in both wins (211) and shutouts (20) as Roberto Luongo passed him in both categories.
The Canucks capped off the memorable evening with an 8-2 thrashing of the Kings.
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.