March 30 is a very busy day in hockey history. There were various first in Stanley Cup playoff history that occurred on this date. The National Hockey added four new teams to the mix. Some Hall of Fame defensemen made their mark on history and an all-time great goaltender set the bar high.
Stanley Cup Firsts
On March 30, 1916, the Montreal Canadiens won their first of their 24 Stanley Cup championships. This was before the formation of the NHL. The Canadiens were playing in the National Hockey Association and beat the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey League 2-1 in the fifth and final game of the series. Each player received a $238 bonus for winning the Cup.
Exactly two years later, the Toronto Arenas beat the Vancouver Millionaires in Game 5 of their championship series to become the first NHL team to ever win the Stanley Cup. The Arenas, who would later become the Maple Leafs, won the inaugural NHL championship and played the Millionaires, who won the PCHA title, for the Stanley Cup.
In a fun twist, the two leagues played by different rules. The NHL used the six players on the ice that we are used to seeing, but the PCHA used a seventh skated as a “rover.” Before the series started, the two teams agreed to play by NHL rules in the odd-numbered games and PCHA rules in the even-numbered ones.
On March 30, 1957, Maurice “Rocket” Richard has a goal and an assist in an 8-3 win over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Richard becomes the first player in NHL history to score 100 points in the postseason.
Richard’s 126 career playoff points have him tied with Alex Ovechkin at 49th on the all-time scoring list. There are currently exactly 100 players who have at least 100 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, Richard’s mark is impressive when you consider the playoffs were only two rounds during his career. He never played more than 12 games in a single postseason.
NHL Expands to 21
On March 30, 1979, the NHL announced that will be adding four teams from the World Hockey Association to expand from 17 to 21 teams for the 1979-80 season. The Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques became expansion teams. The two remaining teams, the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls, were each given $1.5 million for their troubles and ceased operations.
The four teams who entered the NHL were all charged a $6 million expansion fee. They were each allowed to keep only two skaters and two goaltenders before the NHL teams could reclaim any one of their players who switched leagues. The league then held an expansion draft so the four newest franchises could fill out their rosters.
The Oilers has had the most success by winning five Stanley Cups and they are the only team who has not relocated since joining the league. The Whalers are now the Carolina Hurricanes, the Nordiques have become the Colorado Avalanche and the original Jets moved to the desert and became the Phoenix Coyotes.
March Records Set
On March 30, 1975, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 at the old Spectrum in the regular-season finale. The victory gave them 13 wins during the month of March, the most by any NHL team during a single month.
Teemu Selanne made history on March 30, 1993. He finished up his incredible rookie season with a goal and two assists in a 5-4 win at the Calgary Flames. He became the first NHL player to ever score 20 goals in a single month.
Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders on March 30, 2013. The Penguins finished March with a perfect 15-0-0 record, becoming the first team in league history to win every game in a full month.
Defensemen Take Center Stage
On March 30, 1969, the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 9-5 in a rather historic game. Chicago defenseman Pat Stapleton tied an NHL single-game record by picking up six assists in the game. The huge performance made him the first blueliner in league history to have 50 assists in a season.
On that same day, the Boston Bruins wrapped up their season with a 6-3 win over the Canadiens. Legendary defenseman Bobby Orr finished the regular season with 21 goals and 64 points, both NHL records for defensemen. The Bruins also became the first team in NHL history to score 300 goals in a season.
Another Bruins Hall of Famer, Ray Bourque, became just the second defenseman to ever have 900 assists when he gets two helpers in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders on March 30, 1995. He finished his career with 1,169 assists, which is still the record for NHL defensemen.
The Great One & Super Mario
On March 30, 1988, Wayne Gretzky tied Mike Bossy’s NHL record of nine consecutive 40-goal seasons, as the Oilers beat the Minnesota North Stars 6-3. He would break that record the following season and extend the streak to 12 straight seasons before only scoring 31 goals in 1991-92.
The following year, Gretzky had one of his league records broken. Mario Lemieux scored four goals in a Penguins’ 9-5 loss to the Whalers. One of those four tallies was his 13th shorthanded goal of the season, breaking the record of 12 set by Gretzky in 1983-84.
Feel the Bern
Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent had a historic evening on March 30, 1974. Parent beat the Bruins 5-3 to pick up his 45th win of the season, breaking the previous record held by Terry Sawchuck, who won 44 games in 1950-51 and again in 1951-52.
He finished the season with 47 wins, a record he held for 33 years. Martin Brodeur won 48 games for the New Devils in 2006-07 and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals tied that mark in 2015-16.
The victory gave him 100 in his career, making him the first goaltender in Philadelphia Flyers franchise history to win 100 games. He retired with 231 wins in a Flyers uniform, which is second-all time to Ron Hextall’s 240 wins. The only other Flyers goaltender to join the century club is Steve Mason, who had 104 wins in Philadelphia.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 32 NHL players celebrating their birthdays today. Among them are Dave Ellett (56), Ty Conklin (44), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (33) and Zach Senyshyn (23).