Hockey's Historic Highlights

One-Man Shows

Hockey's Historic Highlights

Glen R. Goodhand


One-Man Shows

Posted April 13, 2021

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Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard scores on the Boston Bruin goalie Red Henry
Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard scores on the Boston Bruin goalie Red Henry. Photo: habseyesontheprize.com

  It’s a game I will never forget—and, yet, I didn’t see it. I refer to February 7, 1976, Darryl Sittler’s 10-point night! While that game was taking place I was part of a four-car caravan making its way along country roads in a snow storm; first travelling 20 miles to meet the team from a nearby village, in our church league — and then facing more of the same to make our way home. I was 31 years old at the time. You’d never get me to do it now.

  My son was not old enough to qualify to play in the loop at that time; and I was greeted excitedly with the news when I walked in the door all covered with winter’s most common souvenir.

  I have seen the highlights a number of times. But it’s not the same. I just missed one of the greatest one-man shows in NHL history. It was an occasion when everything went right at the right time. Dave Reece, backup to Gilles Gilbert, stood between the uprights that night, and appeared to be a human sieve. But he was not a dud goalie. His record had been 7-4-2 — hardly reason to be sent to Siberia. But it all went bad for him that night—and he never donned an NHL shirt again.

  Combined, it was a once-in-a-lifetime incident.

  Five other skaters in the world’s premier circuit have also bulged the twine 6 times—Newsy Lalonde, Joe Malone, Corb Denneny, Syd Howe, and Red Berenson. But they didn’t have four helpers to add to their total — an amazing 10 points in a single game — and still a league record.

  But there is another kind of one-man show—which may well be classified as being one notch above a record number of markers. Namely, a player scoring all of his team’s goals in one game.

  One of the first examples of this exploit came to my attention as I was scanning an old newspaper a couple of years ago. It involved a 9-year-old boy. When we used to visit my wife’s sister’s farm near Chatham, Ontario, we passed through the little hamlet of Bothwell (population 692) Although much smaller than Chatham their Novice team was in the same league as the larger centre. In 1980, Brian Wiseman, who was born in the larger centre’s hospital, but spent his early years in Bothwell, scored all his club’s goals as the village team whipped the Maple City squad rather soundly, 13-0.

  Playing at the Novice level he tallied 413 markers in a single season. That broke the record of the great Wayne Gretzky whose high-water mark as a Pee Wee was 378 in a single campaign. Rick MacLeish once scored 270 goals in one season as a Pee Wee. This is pretty elite company he kept in his fledgling years.

  So what is just as surprising as his phenomenal totals is the fact that he didn’t follow these contemporaries in their climb up the shinny ladder. While he was a star with the Michigan Wolverines in college hockey — breaking Ed Olcyk’s record of 147 points, he managed only three contests on the NHL with the Maple Leafs. The rest of his pro career was in the IHL and the AHL.

  When the name of Jack Adams comes up, one’s mindset automatically identifies with his position as Manager and Coach of the Detroit NHL hockey club — first named “Cougars”, then “Falcons”, and finally “Red Wings”. He held that rank for 31 years. During that time, “Jolly Jawn” was known for his outspokenness, his unpredictability, and his temper. For years, his influence was obvious at every level of the pro game; his knee-jerk moves in trading (many which seem to make little sense); and his explosiveness, which was always just below the surface.

  The Central Hockey League, founded in 1963, for the prime purpose of developing prime NHL prospects, was his brain child as well.

  But he was also a skilled player. He joined the pay-for-play scene with the Toronto Arenas in 1918, and concluded with the Ottawa Senators in 1927. In both cases he had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Switching circuits, joining the Vancouver PCHA club for three years, his best season was 1921-22 when he bulged the twine 26 times.

  But, as near as can be determined, he set the pace for skaters like Brian Wiseman. In 1915, when he was 21 years old, he was playing for the Fort William YMCA sextet in a game against their Port Arthur counterparts. Not only did his club win decisively, 14-4, but Jack scored every goal for the victors. This exploit too often gets buried among the rest of his accomplishments.

  If you are a hockey enthusiast with his ear to the ground, you will hear the rumble of 758 pairs of feet who have joined in creating a petition to have Herbie Cain elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The primary motive for this effort is that he is the only NHL scoring champion who has not been honoured in this fashion.

  After five seasons with the Maroons, from 1933 through 1938, he moved across town for one campaign with the Habs. Boston was his next stop, and it was during this fifth year with the Bruins that his 82 points earned him the Art Ross Trophy. Even though his production fell off, especially two seasons later, he felt he deserved an increase in salary. But Manager Ross felt otherwise and demoted him to the AHL. Not only that, but he prohibited any other NHL club to deal for him.

  After four seasons with Hershey he was diagnosed with Hodgins Disease, which ended his playing career. But he miraculously recovered and became coach of his hometown Juniors.

  But it was when he was 12 years old, the pivotal player for St. John’s Separate School in Newmarket, that he made a name for himself. In the four-team league. He tallied all of the 56 goals that his club scored. Details are scarce, but this exploit is not forgotten in his journey to his Hall of Fame selection.

  Even the most ardent hockey historian might be likely to say, “Frank who?” when pro hockey’s journeyman, Frank Ingram is mentioned. The Craven, Saskatchewan right winger clocked 99 games in the Big Time, most of them with the Chicago Blackhawks. He wore Bruin’s garb for one match in 1924-25, but didn’t appear in the NHL again until 1929-30. He totalled 24 goals during his tenure with the Windy City crew.

  He is probably better remembered for travelling 25 miles (40 km) from home to join the Regina Pats Juniors. His partner in crime during the 1923-24 campaign was Johnny Gottselig.

  1930-31 was his banner year. He popped 17 behind opposition netminders. But none were as impressive as his hat trick on December 7, 1930. The Hawks were off to a flying start, having clocked 10 points out of a possible 12 in their first six games, with half of their wins by shut-outs. But their firepower had been coming from the usual sources — Johnny Gottselig and Mush March.

  That’s why, when they hosted the Detroit Falcons that evening, the press noted that it was “a third string forward who gave the Chicago Blackhawks enough of a lead to stall the rousing finishing drive of the Detroit Falcons…”

  And that “third string forward”, Frankie Ingram, who tallied every one of the three goals in the 3-2 victory. He sunk two of the three markers in the first period, and the final one in the third frame. And that was all she needed to write.

  Doubtless the most celebrated incident of this kind took place on March 23, 1944. Those perennial rivals, the Leafs and the Canadiens were squaring off for the second match of the NHL semi-finals in the Mount Royal city. Toronto had won the initial tilt 3 to 1, and hope reigned supreme. But by the time 60 minutes had passed in game two, those hopes were not only dashed, but smashed to smithereens.

  The “Rocket” launched himself into a sizzling orbit that night, scoring all five goals, as the Habitants humbled the Blue and White, 5-1. Several sports pages headlined the exploit with,“Richard-5 Leafs-1”.

He carved out two templates with his feat: no other skater had ever tallied that many goals in accomplishing the one man show. As well, he was the first and only skater to be chosen as each of the three stars in the post-game selection.

  Dink Carroll, in the Montreal Gazette said “he put on a display never equalled before in the history of modern hockey!” Coach Irvin used only eight forwards, and the “Rocket” played on all three lines—making a monkey out of players who tried to shadow him. His bench boss himself added: “This is the greatest one-man performance you will ever live to see in a Stanley Cup game”.

  Leafs’ coach, Hap Day, acknowledged they would have beat the Canadiens if they could have just hobbled or lassoed Richard. And Vern DeGeer, in metaphoric language, compared him to the famous British King, by opining that “Richard the lion-hearted made mice out of our striving Leafs!”

  One shinny scribe claimed that there were 11 instances of lone ranger performances in the 20th Century. But other than those mentioned on this page, yours truly, after pouring over 80 years of the sports pages of three different city newspapers, found only one other highlighted. And that was given more ink when it included in the NHL’s 100th Anniversary highlights than when it actually took place.

  There was no You Tube in 1944 to enable us to join the Canadiens in gloating over the “Rocket’s” amazing achievement. But such is not the case with Sergei Fedorov, who matched the number of goals in his one man show. It is a treat to watch the ease with which he controlled the pace of the contest, and worked his magic around the nets. On December 26, 1996, the Russian superstar was one day late in being the “Grinch who spoiled Christmas” for goalie Casey and the rest of the Washington Capitals.

  He lit the lamp twice the third period to tie the match, marker number 4 coming at 12:28. He then put the icing on the cake with number five at 2:39 in overtime.

  The one error most commentators and writers make is to call his exploit an NHL record—without adding the little detail, namely, that is was that during a regular season. Richard’s came in the post-season.

  Perhaps the most surprising element relating to this scenario is that more skaters of this ilk didn’t dominate in this manner as well. Federov had accomplished virtually every other pursuit. He was a first All Star; he won the Selke Trophy twice, as well as the Pearson and Hart trophies. He added a goal total of 483 just to affirm his prominence in the world’s fastest sport.

But the New Millennium has already witnessed several such exploits, the first profiled on November 14, 2000. Ryan Smyth was one of those strong, silent types. He often starred in his performances, but was hardly a household name in his chosen sport. When he retired he had 386 goals to his credit, enough to make any skater envious. Born in Alberta he was drafted by the Oilers and spent most of his career with Edmonton.

  The highlight of his tenure in the Big Time was a double-barrelled exploit. On the date mentioned above he scored all his team’s tallies in a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. He popped in two in the first frame, and capped off his hat trick with an empty-netter in the volume three.

  But it wasn’t the first time. On March 13, 2000 he did the same thing in Atlanta — and that by the same 3-0 score. He waited that night until the third frame, then sunk them—one, two, three in a row, all within the course of 10 minutes. He is the only player ever to turn the trick more than once.

  He skated with Team Canada in both 2000 and 2001 in World Championship competition, and was part of the Juniors Gold Medal win in 1995. But his accomplishments above are unique.

  It’s difficult, when Joe Thornton is mentioned, not to envision Santa Claus before his beard turned white. Almost two decades after being drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1997, the tall pivot appeared in Sharks’ togs with a wild-looking brush which was to become his signature feature. In the fall of 2015 he made his debut with the added follicles rubbing on the collar of his hockey sweater.

  He got off to a comparatively slow start in Beantown, but by 2005-06 he had carted off the Art Ross Trophy and the league MVP, identified by the presentation of the Hart Trophy. His assist column betrayed his ability as a slick-passing centre — like his 114 points in 2006-07 — 101 of them helpers. In fact, as this is being penned, as a current member of the Maple Leafs, he has counted 1098 assists.

  But there was one evening when igniting the red lamp was his coup de grace. On November 14, 2001, he counted every Bruin goal in a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He pulled the B.’s out from a 1-0 minus in the second frame, then capped off the comeback with two more in the third — his first hat trick in the NHL.

  He picked up the nickname “Jumbo Joe”, not simply because of his size. His St. Thomas home has been the scene of an unusual incident in 1986. One of P.T. Barnum’s circus elephants wandered loose and was struck and killed by a train as it crossed the track. This accident made his agnomen even more fitting because of that.

  It is unlikely that Sweden-born Markus Näslund will be elected to the Hall of Fame. But for one season; and especially for one game, he earned himself some Brownie points which will prompt some steps in the right direction.

  He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991. but made little impression in the Steel City, prompting his trade to the Vancouver Canucks. Even there, in a fresh environment, he struggled. For periods of time he was not even playing. But in 2000-01 the wind shifted in his favour, with new teammate, Todd Bertuzzi seemingly to inspire him. When the ballots were counted following the 2001-02 campaign, he was chosen the first All Star left winger — a spot he held for three seasons in a row.

  But it was the following year that he finally got his sights lined up. He potted 48 markers, just two short of that magic number 50. He was awarded the Pearson Award, voted on by his peers, indicating their thumbs up as the most outstanding player in the circuit. He also got his name in lights that season with an outstanding performance on December 9, 2003. He got revenge on the Penguins for giving up on him too soon — scoring all four goals in a 4-3 overtime triumph.

  He got on the score sheet twice in period number two; added his hat trick marker in the third. He then sunk the Pittsburgh ship in overtime. The extra frame had barely got started, with 24 seconds on the clock, when he fired the disc past Fleury to climax his all-star accomplishment.

 There must be something stimulating in the air emanating from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean, because within less than three months following Näslund’s exciting achievement, another member of the Vancouver Canucks pulled the same kind of magic out the hockey hat. On February 4, 2004, Daniel Sedin popped in the identical number of tallies — the only four scored by his club — to upset the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3.

  As soon as the identical Swedish twins pulled on the Canucks sweaters the fortunes of the West Coast fraternity began to take an upward swing. Over the next fourteen seasons they finished either first or second in their division standings ten times. Between the two of them they bulged the twine in opposition team’s nets 633 times. By the time they had hung up their blades for good, Henrik had amassed a grand total of 831 assists. But Daniel was the sniper and the total in the “G” column of his stats read 393.

  That talent was never more appreciated that on the aforementioned date above. They were trailing the Motor City sextet in the second period, when the comeback started. Daniel’s second marker knotted the score. In the final frame he matched the Red team’s third tally; then capped it off with an empty-netter as the time wound down. Just two minutes before he had hit the goal post. But all’s well that ends well.

  Shawn Horcoff is one of those rare folks who has heterochromia — one blue eye and one brown eye. But there was one night during his 15-year NHL career that it was of no consequence. Those contrasting colours were perfectly synchronized as he scored all of his team’s goals — his first hat trick — in a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Better known as a grinder, totalling only 186 goals in 1008 NHL games, he was Johnny on the spot on January 10, 2006.

  He scored in period number one; and in the final frame, with the Pens barking at their heels, he salted the game away with his second marker during those 20 minutes, with only 55 seconds left on the clock. A natural leader, he was the Oiler captain for three seasons. He also led the club in one other way. He won the fastest skater competition at the 2008 All-Star break.

  He concluded his tenure in the Big Time as a member of the Dallas Stars for two seasons; and one with the Ducks.

  John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is part of the continent — a part of the main”.

  The 11 profiled above presented a challenge to that principle. Yet each would be the first to admit that without the “Continent” (the rest of the team), they could not have accomplished what they did.

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