Today in Hockey History: Sept. 4
The Montreal Canadiens have made a bevy of moves on this date through the years. Also, the National Hockey League named a new president that brings in plenty of innovation and helps triple the league’s size.
A Busy Day in Montreal
The Canadiens have been a very active team on this date over the years. On Sept. 4, 1978, general manager Sam Pollack resigned and was replaced by Irving Grundman. Pollack spent 13 seasons at the helm of the Canadiens. The team made it to the playoffs in all 13 seasons and won an incredible nine championships in their 10 trips to the Stanley Cup Final. He was responsible for drafting the likes of Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Mario Tremblay and Rod Langway.
Exactly one year later, on Sept. 4, 1979, the Canadiens named former star Bernie Geoffrion their new head coach. He replaced the legendary Scotty Bowman, who had won four straight Stanley Cups and left to become the head coach and general of the Buffalo Sabres.
Geoffrion played in 882 games for the Canadiens, but his coaching stint only lasts 30 games as he was forced to resign due to health reasons. Claude Ruel coached the remainder of the 1979-80 season.
On Sept. 4, 1990, the Canadiens traded Claude Lemieux to the New Jersey Devils for Sylvain Turgeon after missing the majority of the previous season due to injury. Montreal drafted in the second round (26th overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft and was part of their 1986 Stanley Cup Championship.
Lemieux spent the next five seasons with the Devils. His first stint with the team ended with him winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, for being the most valuable player of the postseason, during New Jersey’s 1995 run to the Stanley Cup. Turgeon played in just 75 games over the two seasons with the Canadiens before being taken by the Ottawa Senators during the 1992 NHL Expansion Draft.
Team Canada Draws Even
Two days after the Soviet Union scored a 7-3 win in the opening game of the Summit Series, Canada came back to win 4-1 on Sept. 4, 1972. After a scoreless first period, Boston Bruins star, Phil Esposito, got the nearly 17,000 fans at the Maple Leafs Garden on their feet with a goal seven minutes into the middle frame.
Special teams played a big role in the third period. Yvan Cournoyer doubled Canada’s lead with a power-play goal just over a minute into the final frame. Less than a minute after Alexander Yakushev’s power-play goal got the Soviets on the board, Pete Mahovlich answered with a shorthanded tally. Frank Mahovlich iced the game with a fourth and final goal just a couple of minutes later.
Head coach Harry Sinden benched goaltender Ken Dryden after the Game 1 loss. His replacement, Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced for the victory. He and his brother Phil shared game MVP honors.
Richter Calls it a Career
On Sept. 4, 2003, goaltender Mike Richter announced his retirement after suffering a pair of concussions just eight months apart. Richter played his entire 14-season career with the New York Rangers after they selected him in the second round (28th overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
Richter has not had to pay for a meal in New York City since he helped the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1994. He retired with 301 wins, which were the most in franchise history until he was eventually passed up by Henrik Lundqvist.
Odds & Ends
Clarence Campbell was named president of the NHL, on Sept. 4 1946, replacing Red Dutton. He held the position for 31 years before retiring shortly after the 1976-77 season. During his time as president, the NHL expanded from six teams to 18. He also instilled both the All-Star Game and amateur draft.
Campbell made one of his first big changes on this same day. The league announced they would expand the schedule for 50 games to 60 for the 1946-47 season. The Canadiens led the league with 34 wins and 78 points during the first 60-game season. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat them in six games to win the 1947 Stanley Cup, the first of their three straight championships. When Campbell retired, each team was playing 80 games a season.
On Sept. 4, 1999, the Calgary Flames traded a third-round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues for veteran goaltender Grant Fuhr. The four-time Stanley Cup winner and future Hall of Famer played the final 23 games of his NHL career with the Flames. He went 5-13-2 with a .856 save percentage (SV%) and 3.83 goals-against average (GAA) during the 1999-2000 season.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 22 NHL players were born on this date. The group includes two Hockey Hall of Famers. The first was Butch Bouchard, born on Sept. 4, 1919. He played in 786 games for the Canadiens between 1941 and 1956. The defenseman scored 49 goals and 193 points while winning four Stanley Cups. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame 1966.
The other was forward Bert Olmstead, who was born on this date in 1926. He played in 848 games, between 1949 and 1962, scoring 181 goals and 602 points for the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Maple Leafs. He won a total of five Stanley Cups during his career; four in Montreal and one final one in Toronto. He took his place in the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Craig Conroy, turning 49 today, played in the most games of this bunch. He dressed in 1,008 games for the Canadiens, Blues, Flames and Los Angeles Kings. Tomas Sandstrom, born on Sept. 4, 1964, was the best scorer with 394 goals and 856 goals during his 15-season career.
Other notable birthdays today include Jim Schoenfeld (68), John Vanbiesbrouck (57), Sergio Momesso (55) and Maxim Afinogenov (41).
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