The Toronto Maple Leafs told fans and media they had a surprise Saturday night, but details were not shared. There were just hints and whispers and the knowledge that the team had made amends with Dave Keon, who was voted the greatest Leaf of all-time this week.
Saturday night, the Maple Leafs announced that they were doing away with their long-running policy of not retiring player numbers and instead “honoring” them in the rafters. All 16 players, representing 10 numbers, that were in the rafters were officially retired Saturday night. Those numbers include a bevy of absolute legends, including Syl Apps (10), George Armstrong (10), Johnny Bower (1), Turk Broda (1), King Clancy (7), Wendel Clark (17), Charlie Conacher (9), Hap Day (4), Doug Gilmour (93), Tim Horton (7), Red Kelly (4), Ted Kennedy (9), Frank Mahovlich (27), Borje Salming (21), Darryl Sittler (27) and Mats Sundin (13).
In another surprise, the team retired Dave Keon’s #14 Saturday night, bringing the total to 11 retired numbers in Toronto. It was an emotional night and a beautiful ceremony. Watch the full 25-minute announcement on banner raising below.
The only current Toronto skater wearing one of those numbers was James van Riemsdyk, who, after four years with the team, was forced to vacate the number 21, once worn by legendary defenseman Borje Salming. JVR is now sporting the number 25 on his back.
Mitch Marner Nets His First
Saturday was about Leafs legends, but it was the rookies who stole the show. Included in a strong night Toronto’s youth was the first NHL goal of top prospect Mitch Marner. There was a huge celebration, London Knights style, and a few funny stories that came from the goal.
“The excitement really takes over your body,” Marner told TSN’s Mark Masters of his celebration after the game. “It was a special moment for me and definitely a thing I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Tops among Marner’s goal stories might be that his Mom missed the goal because she was in the bathroom and had to convince some people that he was his mom.
Also, as often happens on a big goal, Hanarayan Singh of Hockey Night Punjabi absolutely killed the call on this goal.
— Hockey Night Punjabi (@HkyNightPunjabi) October 15, 2016
Marner’s goal was the team’s sixth goal of the season. All six of those goals were scored by rookies. According to Elias Sports Bureau, those six goals (four by Matthews and one each by Marner and Connor Brown) are the first time in the expansion era a team has opened a season with six straight goals from rookies.
Also, this is worth watching.
This Mitch Marner shift. Wow. pic.twitter.com/jLikVTEUSD
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 16, 2016
Dan Girardi to Miss Time
New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi is going to miss some time with a hip flexor injury suffered on Saturday. He played just 7:56 in Saturday’s game, but it’s not immediately apparent when the injury occurred.
In his postgame press conference, coach Alain Vigneault said that Girardi is out “more than day to day.” That can mean a lot of things, but that’s all the update the Rangers were willing to provide immediately after the game.
You Get a Hat Trick! And You Get a Hat Trick!
The second and third hat tricks of the 2016-17 NHL season are going to two more players who tallied their first hat tricks in their NHL careers. That means all three hat tricks, following Matthews’s four-goal debut, are career-first hat tricks.
Joe Colborne potted three goals to help the Colorado Avalanche grab a win over the Dallas Stars in Jared Bedner’s debut on an NHL bench.
Then Richard Panik grabbed one as well, helping Chicago bury Nashville 5-3. Panik now has at least one point in all three games this season.
Gregory Cambell Suspended for Not Reporting to AHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets have decided to suspended 32-year-old forward Gregory Campbell for not reporting to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL, according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post Dispatch. The team notified Campbell by letter on Saturday.
Campbell was assigned to the AHL after clearing waivers earlier in the week.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen told Portzline that he attempted to trade Campbell to no avail before placing the veteran on waivers. He says he’ll continue to search for a new home for Campbell.
In 82 games last season, Campbell contributed three goals and 11 points. He has one year left on a two-year, $3 million deal signed in the summer of 2015. While he is suspended, the Blue Jackets will not have to pay his salary.
Strombone Continues to Climb the Record Books
Roberto Luongo grabbed a win on Saturday, putting him into sole possession of the sixth most wins in NHL history at 438. He passes Jacques Plante’s 437 wins and continues to cement his legacy as one of the league’s great goaltenders (even if a Stanley Cup continues to elude him).
Here’s where Luongo sits currently:
Martin Brodeur: 691 wins (1,266 games)
Patrick Roy: 551 wins (1,029 games)
Ed Belfour: 484 wins (963 games)
Curtis Joseph: 454 wins (943 games)
Terry Sawchuk: 447 wins (971 games)
Roberto Luongo: 438 wins (928 games)
Jacques Plante: 437 wins (837 games)
A Horrible Own Goal That Mattered
Own goals in hockey are rare. It’s even rarer that they’re placed into an empty net. And when they’re into an empty net, the team is usually down late and it doesn’t have a huge impact on the game. Not the case with an ugly own goal by Loui Eriksson in his Vancouver Canucks debut.
With a delayed penalty and the net empty in the first period, game tied 0-0, Loui Eriksson biffed an own goal to give the Flames a 1-0 lead in the first.
Odds and Ends
– The New York Rangers signed former Minnesota Wild winger Justin Fontaine to a two-way deal Saturday and placed him on waivers. He has cleared and will be assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.
– The Calgary Flames signed 26-year-old goaltender Tom McCollum to a two-way deal on Saturday. They have placed him on waivers with the intention of sending him to the AHL.
– Also, this is wonderful.
Great anecdote from @treed1919: Werenski's mom, Kristen, walked Arena District pre-game w $10 bill for first fan in son's '8' sweater.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) October 16, 2016
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.