Column, Flames History, Flyers History, Hockey History, Jaromir Jagr, Oilers History, Penguins History, Predators History, Ron Francis, Top Stories, Wayne Gretzky

Today in Hockey History: March 1

We are into March, which usually means the playoff push intensifies across the National Hockey League, leading to many big moments over the years. The greatest player to ever lace up a pair of skates took ownership of one of his many unbreakable records on this date. Also, March 1 has been a unique date in Philadelphia’s hockey history. It’s time for our daily trip back in time to relive the best memories this date has had to offer.

Wayne Gretzky Breaks Assist Record

On March 1, 1988, Gretzky did something he’s done hundreds of times during his career; he set up a goal for his longtime linemate Jari Kurri. Except for this time, he made history. The assist was the 1,050th of his career, passing Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history. He also had a goal to help the Edmonton Oilers beat the Los Angeles 5-3.

Wayne Gretzky Gordie Howe
Gretzky broke Howe’s assist record on this date in 1988. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

To put this record into perspective, Howe collected his 1,049 career assists over 27 seasons and 1,767 games. Gretzky broke this record in just 761 games, over 1,000 fewer than Howe needed. The Great One retired with 1,963 assists. He had more assists than Jaromir Jagr had points (1,921), who is second all-time in NHL overall scoring.

A Whacky Day for the Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have been the most successful team of the 1967 expansion and have had numerous memorable dates through franchise history. However, March 1 stands out just because of the weirdness that occurred.

On March 1, 1968, high winds blew portions of the roof off the Spectrum during the Ice Capades’ performance. This left the first-year Flyers without a home for the final month of the season. They were forced to play their last “home” games at Maple Leafs Garden, Madison Square Garden and Le Colisée in Quebec City. Crews repaired the roof in time for them to host their first Stanley Cup playoff game on April 4.

Five years later, on March 1, 1973, Flyers set the NHL record for the most penalty minutes in one season. Bob Kelly’s hooking penalty gave them 1,372 penalty minutes, breaking the 1970-71 Vancouver Canucks’ previous record.

Rick Tocchet became the first player in Flyers history to score three goals in back-to-back games on March 1, 1988, when he picked up his third career hat trick in a 7-3 win at the Canucks.

Assistant coach Rick Tocchet
Tocchet was the first Flyer to have a hat trick in back-to-back games. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Exactly one year later, Brian Propp became the third player in team history to score 350 goals. He also had two assists in a 4-4 tie with the Winnipeg Jets.

Trent Klatt scored his only career hat trick, on March 1, 1997, in a 5-5 tie with the Boston Bruins. The three goals gave him 20 on the season. This was his only 20-goal effort during his 13-season NHL career.

Cam Talbot made his debut for the Flyers on March 1, 2019, and made 30 saves in a 6-3 victory at the New Jersey Devils. He was the eighth different goaltender to start a game for the Flyers during the 2018-19 season, setting a new NHL record.

It Feels Like the First Time

Newsy Lalonde became the first player to score five goals in a Stanley Cup playoff game on March 1, 1919, as he led the Montreal Canadiens to a 6-3 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators. He now shares this record with Maurice Richard, Darryl Sittler, Reggie Leach and Mario Lemieux.

Bobby Orr scored a goal, on March 1, 1970, in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. This made him the first defenseman in NHL history to score 25 goals in a season. Since this date, 20 more defensemen have scored 25 goals or more in a season, with the most recent being Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, who scored 29 in 2016-17.

Paul Reinhart became the first Calgary Flames defenseman to score 20 goals in a season, on March 1, 1985, during a 6-4 win over the visiting Canadiens. Rookie Joel Otto picked up the first of his 508 career points with an assist.

On March 1, 1989, the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team in NHL history to score 100 power-play goals twice in their history. This time, their 100th goal on the man advantage came in a 4-1 win over the Devils.

That same night, Steve Yzerman became the first player in Detroit Red Wings history to score 60 goals in a season. He became the 11th 60-goal scorer overall when he finds the back of the net in a 6-5 win over the New York Islanders. This milestone came on the one-year anniversary of Yzerman scoring 50 goals for the first time.  

Steve Yzerman Red Wings
Yzerman had a knack of scoring milestone goals on this date. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Pavel Bure became the first 50-goal scorer in Canucks team history on March 1, 1993, when he scored two goals to beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 in a neutral-site game played at Hamilton, Ontario.

Joe Thornton scored his first career hat trick, on March 1, 2001, in the Bruins 3-1 win against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. He currently has five hat tricks in his career; two with Boston and three with the Sharks.

Nashville Predators’ Leadership Makes History

A pair of names that will be forever associated with the Predators franchise made history off the ice on this date. On March 1, 2003, Barry Trotz coached his 392nd game for Nashville to break the NHL record for the most games coached from the start on an expansion team’s existence. He broke the old record held by the Lightning’s Terry Crisp, who is currently an analyst for the Predators, in a 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Trotz was behind the bench for the first 1,196 games in Predators history before being let go after 15 seasons.

Barry Trotz Predators coach
Trotz spent 15 seasons behind the Predators’ bench. (Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

David Poile became the winningest general manager in league history on March 1, 2018, when the Predators beat the Oilers 4-2. It was appropriate that his 1,320th victory came in Edmonton as he passed Glen Sather, who amassed many of his wins as the Oilers’ general manager. The first 594 of Poile’s wins came at the Washington Capitals’ helm between 1982 and 1997. He has been the only general manager since Nashville’s inception.

Odds & Ends

When Charlies Burns suited up for the Minnesota North Stars on March 1, 1970, he became the final player/coach in NHL history. He did not find the scoresheet as the North Stars ended a 20-game winless streak (0-15-5) with an 8-0 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He remained has player/coach through the end of the season.

Bernie Federko appeared in his 700th career contest on March 1, 1986, to pass Brian Sutter as the St. Louis Blues’ all-time leader in games played. He scored a goal and added two assists in a 6-3 win over the visiting Blackhawks.

Lemieux scored two goals and tacked on an assist, on March 1, 1988, in the Penguins’ 8-3 win over the North Stars. The two goals gave “Super Mario” 56 for the year and 200 in his career. This broke Rick Kehoe’s single-season team record for goals he set with 55 during the 1980-81 season.

Wendel Clark played his first game in 390 days, on March 1, 1989, after missing 90 consecutive games due to a severe back injury. He picked up an assist in his comeback, a 7-4 Maple Leafs loss at the New York Rangers.

Brett Hull became the 46th member of the NHL’s 400-goal club on March 1, 1994, when he scored in the Blues’ 4-2 loss at the Islanders.

Rookie Jarome Iginla scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season on March 1, 1997, as the Flames won 4-1 over the Dallas Stars. Exactly 20 years later, on March 1, 2017, Iginla was traded by the Colorado Avalanche to the Kings for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. He played the final 19 games of his Hall of Fame career with Los Angeles, scoring six goals and nine points.

Ron Francis celebrated his 38th birthday, on March 1, 2001, by becoming just the second player in NHL history to score at least 50 points in 20 straight seasons. He accomplished this with the game-winning goal in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win at the Islanders.

Bill Guerin scored his 20th goal of the season, on March 1, 2008, in the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the visiting Flyers. He joined Ray Sheppard as the only other player to scored at least 20 goals for six different teams.

Jagr set two personal milestones, on March 1, 2014, with a goal and assist in the Devils 6-1 road win at the Islanders. His goal made him the seventh player in league history to score 700 in his career. The assist put him ahead of Marcel Dionne for ninth place on the all-time list with 1,040.

Happy Birthday to You

Francis, turning 58 today, is one of three members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, born on this date. The late Max Bentley and Allan Stanley were born in 1920 and 1926, respectively. In total, there are 36 current and former NHLers sharing birthdays. The most notable of the rest of this group are Jocelyn Guevremont (70), Pat Boutette (69), Marcus Nilsson (43), Brad Winchester (40), Brian Sutherby (39), Alex Steen (37), Victor Rask (28) and Matt Roy (26).


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