THIS DATE IN NHL HISTORY: March 31
1923: King Clancy of the Ottawa Senators plays all six positions, including goalie for two minutes after Clint Benedict is assessed a penalty, in a 1-0 victory against Edmonton in Game 2 of the Final in Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup. Clancy, then 18, goes on to referee in the NHL and later enjoys a long career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, serving as coach and then as an executive in various capacities.
1928: Gordie Howe is born in Floral, Saskatchewan.
Howe scores the first of his 801 NHL goals as an 18-year-old with the Detroit Red Wings and goes on to play in 1,767 NHL games during 25 seasons with the Red Wings and one with the Hartford Whalers.
Howe wins the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy six times apiece, plays on four Stanley Cup-winning teams, and sets numerous NHL records.
He is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, but returns to the ice in 1973 to play with his sons Mark and Marty in the World Hockey Association. All three Howes come to the NHL in 1979 when the Whalers are one of four teams admitted from the WHA; he finishes with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) and plays all 80 games before retiring for good.
If anything, Howe becomes an even more beloved figure in the years after his retirement, earning the nickname Mr. Hockey from generations of fans who never saw him play.
1942: The Maple Leafs become the first team in NHL history to win 50 Stanley Cup Playoff games when they defeat the visiting New York Rangers 3-2 in Game 6 of the Semifinals.
1951: The Boston Bruins and Maple Leafs play the last Stanley Cup Playoff game to end in a tie. They’re even at 1-1 after one overtime in Game 2 of the Semifinals at Maple Leaf Gardens when Ontario’s “Sunday Curfew” law would have made it illegal to begin another period after midnight.
1973: Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr has his third NHL hat trick to become the first player in League history to earn 100 points in four straight seasons. The milestone comes in Boston’s 7-3 loss to Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.
1990: Joe Sakic of the Quebec Nordiques becomes the first player in NHL history to get 100 points in a season while playing on a last-place team when he scores a goal in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Hartford Whalers. Sakic finishes with 102 points; the Nordiques go 12-61-7 and finish with 31 points, by far the fewest in the NHL.
1994: Jeremy Roenick scores two goals to become the first player in Chicago Blackhawks history to get 100 points for three consecutive seasons. The milestone comes in a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at Chicago Stadium.
2004: Mark Messier says goodbye to the NHL by scoring a goal in his final game, the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Ten years after Messier delivers the Stanley Cup to the Rangers in 1994 to end their 54-year drought, he scores his final NHL goal with 57 seconds left in the first period. It is the 1,887th point of his NHL career, now third in League history (his 694 goals are eighth). Though Messier doesn’t officially announce his retirement until Sept. 12, he certainly acts as if he knows he’s calling it a career. He skates around the Garden ice after the game, waving to the sellout crowd and shedding more than a few tears. Messier doesn’t play in New York’s season finale on April 4 at the Washington Capitals.