Throwback Tuesday

A record-setting performance, a dramatic overtime goal in the playoffs, a scintillating individual effort that typifies the skills of a famous player… In sum, a “Dealer’s Choice” tribute to a player or game that deserves eternal recognition.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Comic Relief from Playoff Pressure, Backdated Five Years

2017-05-09T17:05:38+00:00 May 9th, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

Three of the principals remaining in this this year’s playoffs shared a moment of comedy in great contrast to the immense pressure all are coping with as the third round comes into view.

If such levity seemed a long time ago to Vernon Fiddler, Kevin Bieksa and Alain Vigneault, then they are all correct.

On Feb. 26, 2012, in one of those moments the viewing public is not supposed to be privy to, Fiddler, while playing for the Stars went one better than trash-talking Bieksa, who was with Vigneault’s Canucks at the time: He trash-faced him.

The camera first catches Vigneault smirking and then we see why. Fiddler is skating off the ice with a cartoonishly grumpy expression on his face. Vigneault clearly understood that Fiddler was contorting his face in such a way that it resembled Bieksa’s.

The impression so unraveled the usually stoic Vigneault that he was forced to hold his game notes up to his face to conceal his reaction.

Bieksa emerges as a class act next, as the camera catches him laughing hard enough that his shoulder pads move to accommodate his tickled ribs.

Vigneault, meanwhile, doesn’t quite have milk coming out of his nose, but his efforts to mask his amusement are clearly failing. Two fans behind the Canucks bench are also hip to Fiddler’s mimicry and they too can’t contain their laughter as they see Vigneault’s eyes start to water up in his failed bid to suppress an increasingly imminent belly laugh.

Fiddler may wind up getting the last laugh again this season, as Vigneault’s Rangers and Bieksa’s Ducks each need to overcome 3-2 deficits to advance to the conference finals.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Jason Chimera with the Redirect — From Behind the Red Line!

2017-05-02T19:05:37+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

Has a goal ever come any easier to an NHL player than this one did for Jason Chimera while he was with the Capitals? And, yes, I’m even including empty net goals.

In the middle period of a second-round playoff game against Philadelphia last year, Chimera was just short of the center ice stripe, with Scott Laughton draped on his back. Karl Alzner dumped the puck his way from deep in the Washington corner and all Chimera could do was lay his stick on it, in all likelihood only delaying an inevitable icing, as the puck slid all the way into the Flyers zone.

But you don’t get called for icing when the puck is played by the goaltender. And in this case you don’t when he doesn’t play it either.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason saw the puck coming in on him, got into perfect position to brush it aside, put his stick down on the ice and then . . . inexplicably undid all of that as the puck slid harmlessly toward him.

That puck didn’t go through the five-hole, it went through the five thousand hole.

Mason snapped his head back twice in different directions, perhaps disappointed that it didn’t fly off his neck the first time. His teammates, however, while not exactly latching it back into place, did come by to offer a consoling tap of the stick on his pads.

Whether Chimera celebrated his most unlikely of goals, we’ll never know. The cameras never returned to him after his innocuous chip from behind center ice.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Alexandre Burrows Enjoys a Mid-Altercation Snack

2017-04-12T14:30:41+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

Old rivals Patrice Bergeron and Alex Burrows will be at each other’s throats in the playoffs again, six years after one of the most celebrated / notorious incidents in Stanley Cup history, though Bergeron probably hopes that’s only a figure of speech.

In Game 1 of the 2011 Cup Finals, Burrows was with Vancouver, when the Canucks hosted the Bruins. At the conclusion of a chippy first period, the Canucks showed they were just a little hungrier for the Cup than Boston.

Or at least one member of the team did — and that was Burrows. With Bergeron sticking his gloved hand in Burrows’ face during the fracas, Burrows perhaps gave the bloodthirsty Vancouver fans a bit more than they might have been asking for from the players down below.

Burrows chomped down on two of Bergeron’s fingers in a manner that would have done Bram Stoker proud, were it not for the fact that he only got some leather and sweat for his efforts.

Nonetheless, the strong consensus was Burrows would be suspended for the next game.

Not only was he not, but Burrows scored the game-winning goal 11 seconds into overtime.

Further fueling the wrath of the Boston fans were the actions of Vancouver’s Max Lapierre, who, toward the end of the third period, taunted Bruins nation in general, and Bergeron in particular by floating a couple of fingers invitingly toward Bergeron’s bicuspids. In the annals of trying to goad opponents into taking penalties, this one failed to take the cake — as did Bergeron.

After a transcontinental flight and the airwaves around New England burbling with enough invective to rock the Canucks plane, the situation became further inflamed in Game 3. The Bruins, down 2-0 in the series, dominated and were up 4-0 in the third period when Milan Lucic took a run at Burrows behind the Bruins net well after the whistle had blown.

Burrows put on an acting performance worthy of an Ed Wood movie as he feigned victimization of a brutal assault. The two teams gathered once more behind the net and now it was Lucic giving Burrows the improvised two-finger salute, this time with his glove off, to make the offer especially tempting.

Still,in spite of all the hijinx, no suspensions were, ahem, meated out. Ultimately Lucic and the Bruins benefited by not biting off more than they could chew, delivering Vancouver their just deserts, with a memorable 7-game Cup win. All that was left for Burrows and company to bite was the dust.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Blue Jackets First No. 1 Pick Rostislav Klesla Scores First NHL Goal at Home

2017-03-21T17:33:46+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

Now that Columbus has qualifed for the playoffs for the third time in club history — and hit 100 points for the first — time for a look back at the first entry-draft pick the Blue Jackets ever made.

Instant hockey-Mensa if you don’t live in Ohio and recall that the team’s first selection was Czech defenseman Rotislav Klesla. Chosen with the fourth pick overall, Klesla appeared in eight games as a rookie and even scored two goals. In nine subsequent seasons in Columbus, Klesla never reached double digits in goals, but was part of the first Blue Jackets playoff team, which promptly went out in four games to the defending Cup champion Red Wings.

Klesla then went on the Coyotes, and after four injury-plagued seasons in Phoenix, he was traded to the Sabres, but elected not to report and his NHL career had come to an end.

In spite of the early promise shown during his initial call-up in 2000, Klesla scored only 48 goals in 659 NHL games.

But his very first goal on home ice was a beaut. He was fed the puck at the blue line as he came into the San Jose zone in full flight. He stepped around a defender in the slot and then went to his backhand to score in tight on Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Milan Hejduk Does the Breaststroke Following Overtime Winner

2017-02-15T00:14:59+00:00 February 14th, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

Milan Hejduk turned in a nifty career for the Avalanche and was a vital cog when Colorado won its second Cup in 2001, averaging a point per game during the four rounds.

A year earlier, in his second season with the club, he made a name for himself with one of the more bizarre goal celebrations of the modern era. Likely the ancient era as well. But maybe it was an ancient era he was commemorating — as in Pleistocene — when he dropped down to the ice after dropping Dallas in overtime.

We’ve seen a golfer plunge into a pond following a tournament win. Though sightings of NHL players diving are not unusual, seeing them swim along the ice in the aftermath are.

So when Hedjuk took a dive at the blue line and made it across the red line in a breast stroke, the fans in Dallas could have been forgiven if they thought the Penguins or Sharks were in town.

The celebration method never caught on in the NHL, but Hedjuk sure did. He scored 50 goals in the 2002-03 season for Colorado to top the league and also was the NHL plus / minus leader that year. He played all 15 of his seasons with the Avalanche and is the fourth leading goal-scorer in franchise history.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: A Teary Night at the Boston Garden for Normand Leveille

2017-01-17T13:53:28+00:00 January 10th, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

When the Bruins held a closing ceremony for the Boston Garden the night of September 26, 1995, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house.

But it wasn’t the passing of a building that the fans were were brought to tears over. Rather it was the presence of a player who played just two years for them and only 75 games before his career was cut down tragically during a game in Vancouver in 1982.

Normand Leveille was a mid-first round draft pick of the Bruins in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the team immediately and scored 33 points in 66 games for Boston as a rookie. His second season got off to a very promising start, with three goals and six assists in nine games. And then the fateful night in Vancouver.

In the dressing room following the first period, Leveille complained of dizziness and shoulder pain. Moments later he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. He went into surgery immediately and emerged from it in a coma, which lasted three weeks. Three weeks after regaining consciousness Normand left the hospital and eventually was able to walk again.

But he couldn’t play hockey. Instead he dedicated his life to helping others with debilitating conditions therapeutically. His commitment to this was so strong that he founded the Centre Normand-Léveillé at Drummondville in Quebec.

His appearance during the closing ceremonies at the Garden made it clear that Bruins fans hadn’t forgotten him. Ray Bourque escorted him out on the ice — and Normand was on skates!

This exceptionally moving moment brought the house down at the Garden. Three years later, after being vacant for hockey during that stretch, the building would literally come down.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Bobby Hull Hat Trick in the Waning Days of Original Six Hockey

2017-01-04T01:33:53+00:00 January 3rd, 2017|Throwback Tuesday|

As fewer and fewer hockey fans remain who got to see the Golden Jet in action, those who only know of the legend (and the son) will get an idea of how the former Blackhawk and WHA marqee name dominated the game of straight sticks and Mike-Myersless goalie faces.

It’s February 11, 1967, and Bobby Hull already has 38 years on him. But there he is, collecting the puck and the Maple Leaf Gardens go into a hush of anticipation. Twice he would score on his patented 100 MPH slap shot and another time on a flip from the door step. His 28 career hat tricks tie him with Marcel Dionne for 6th on the all-time list.

He won Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961 and twice with the original Winnipeg Jets of the WHA in 1976 and ’78. He won the Ross, Hart and Byng trophies, missed only one all-star game from 1960-72, and led the NHL in goals four straight years and seven times overall. He finished his career with 610 NHL goals, including four after the Jets were folded into the league and his final two, with . . . can you guess? . . . the Hartford Whalers, in 1979-80.

When you add in his 303 WHA goals, along with Gretzky and Howe, Hull is the only player in North American pro hockey history to top 900 goals.

You’ll see all three of his goals here in this “Hockey Night in Canada” summation of the Hawks and Leafs 4-4, tie, as well as one by fellow Hall-of-Famer and Blackhawk teammate Stan Mikita. And if you enjoy hockey for more than just the play between whistles, there’s a minor scrap between Jim Pappin and Doug Mohns. It won’t satisfy any bloodlust, but might take care of flesh-wound lust.

THROWBACK TUESDAY: Pandolfo Concludes Amazing Devils Comeback Against the Leafs

2016-12-28T01:53:55+00:00 December 27th, 2016|Throwback Tuesday|

It happened three and a half years before Toronto’s epic collapse against the Bruins in Game 7 of the first round of the 2013 Playoffs, but the Maple Leafs disintegration against New Jersey on Feb. 5, 2010, at the Prudential Centre, was almost as depressive.

Trailing by two, with a little over three minutes left in the game, the Devils scored to make it a one-goal game at 16:56 on a backhand from the lower right circle by Dean McCamond. With under a minute left, and New Jersey on a power play, they got a second additional skater on the ice by pulling goaltender Martin Brodeur. In short order, Travis Zajac tied it with a one-timer from the middle of the left circle with 44 seconds left.

Heading to overtime, right? The Leafs made certain not to miss their plane when goaltender Jonas Gustavvson allowed a juicy rebound — after making an admittedly big-time split save — on a shot from the right point to carom on to the stick of Jay Pandolfo, who buried the rebound.

Pandolfo-monium ensued. There’s even a great isolated shot of Lamoriello looking bemused in there. It’s great to see the Devils fans so spirited. The team has endured a drought of late, but they showed that this was no mausoleum, even during the regular season, when New Jersey was consistently putting Cup contenders on the ice.


THROWBACK TUESDAY: Bourne Goes Coast to Coast

2016-12-19T16:11:20+00:00 November 16th, 2016|Throwback Tuesday|

Long before there was Bob Costas’ Coast-to-Coast, there was Bob Bourne’s coast-to-coast.

The dynasty Islanders were so talented that most fans can be forgiven for stopping short of Bourne when rattling off the names of those revered champions of the early ‘80s. But no Islander fan from that generation would leave this remarkable – and clutch – goal off his list of the greatest in franchise history.

With the Patrick Division Final against the Rangers tied at two games apiece Bourne contributed his legendary goal to a 7-2 Islander romp in a pivotal Game 5.