If Jaromir Jagr decided he wanted to hang up his skates after this season, he’s going out in style, and as an all-time great.
On Thursday night, Jagr added to his list of career achievements by notching point No. 1,850 to tie Gordie Howe for third place all time. The milestone point came on a first-period assist on a goal by Panthers teammate Erik Gudbranson against the Avalanche.
It was only fitting that when The Hockey News was writing a book on the Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time in 1997, Andy Bathgate was ranked 58th. That meant he did not have a chapter devoted to him in the book, instead being relegated to the players ranked Nos. 50 to 100 at the back of the book with a four-paragraph capsule devoted to his career.
Bathgate, who died on Friday at the age of 83, was underrated before the term even became in vogue in hockey. One of the greatest players of his era, Bathgate will be remembered as an unappreciated player who toiled for a conga line of really godawful teams, capturing his only Stanley Cup when he got traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964. He did get some individual recognition with a Hart Trophy and induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he spent most of his career with bad teams. In his 15 full seasons in the league, his teams missed the playoffs eight times and were beaten out in the first round five times.
It took a little-known Swiss goaltender named Joren Van Pottleberghe to bring together the two principal characters of one of the most infamous incidents the game has ever seen.
It was shortly after the draft and the Detroit Red Wings had just selected Van Pottleberghe in the fourth round. Kris Draper, an executive with the Red Wings, was in the lobby in his hotel in South Florida and he was approached by Claude Lemieux, the agent for Van Pottleberghe. The two had a rather awkward conversation about Lemieux’s client for a couple of minutes and Lemieux went on his way.
“I wasn’t going to bring it up,” Draper said, “and he wasn’t going to bring it up. It was basically him as an agent and me as a Red Wings executive talking hockey.”
I’ve been to the arena in Lake Placid where it all went down. You can feel the vibe, see where the ghosts might hang out on weekdays. But to modern eyes, it’s incredible how small everything appears. Peer out the window and you can see where the opening ceremonies were held – it had to be closer to a high school graduation than the Beijing overdose at the 2008 Summer Games – and the concessions are spartan, as if that really ever matters.
But that’s why the Miracle on Ice was special, wasn’t it? The Americans were the little guys, taking on the Big, Red, Soviet Machine. The Yankees weren’t supposed to hang with Viktor Tikhonov’s army, but they did. And 36 years ago today, the final score was 4-3 for the locals.
How far has hockey in America come since that victory? Light years.
As far as repairing the relationship between Dave Keon and the Toronto Maple Leafs is concerned, it’s a good first step. But that’s all it is.
With the player some think is the greatest ever to wear a Maple Leaf uniform due to be honored by the organization tonight, which will be followed in the spring with a statue on Legends’ Row along with Turk Broda and Tim Horton, some have characterized the proceedings as an indication that the prodigal son has come home, that Keon is ready to embrace and re-engage with the organization to which he has been estranged for more than 40 years.
Jim Devellano was a 25-year-old Ontario scout for the St. Louis Blues when he first encountered Dickie Moore. It was the spring of 1968 and the Blues had just made a run to the first post-expansion Stanley Cup final with Scotty Bowman behind the bench and the likes of Moore, Doug Harvey, Glenn Hall and Al Arbour.
The Solomon family that owned the Blues also owned a place in Miami called the Golden Strand and, as a reward for such as successful season, rewarded the players and management with a vacation at the hotel. “I’m standing by the pool fully clothed and somebody grabs me by the waist and in I went,” Devellano said. “And it was Dickie Moore.”
Legendary Montreal Canadiens winger Richard ‘Dickie’ Moore, who won six Stanley Cups with the Habs, passed away early Saturday in Montreal. He was 84.
Moore, a Montreal native, lived the dream of many Quebec-born hockey players as he earned his place with the Canadiens by the time he was a 21-year-old.
In his rookie season, Moore was a point-per-game player, notching 18 goals and 33 points in 33 games. He finished third in Calder Trophy voting, and he only improved from there. His sophomore year was an up-and-down campaign and shortened by injury, but he made an impact in the post-season with a three-goal, five-point playoff en route to his first Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1952-53. Moore’s career really hit its stride in the 1954-55 season, though, and he would become one of the greatest offensive players of his generation. Read more
The IIHF named its 2016 Hall of Fame class Thursday, and the list of greats heading to the International Hall of Fame are headlined by Sergei Fedorov, Peter Bondra and the late Pat Quinn.
Joining Fedorov, Bondra and Quinn are Valeri Kamensky, Ville Peltonen and Ben Smith, who enters, like Quinn, in the builders category. The IIHF Hall of Fame also awarded the Richard ‘Bibi’ Torriani Award to Gabor Ocskay and the Paul Loicq Award to Nikolai Ozerov. All will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame May 22 in Moscow following the final game of the 2016 World Championship. Read more