By Darrin McGrath | Cabin Country
Now that the NHL season has started, a great many TVs in cabin country will be tuned into hockey games, especially on Saturday nights. This week I thought I’d relate two stories from the NHL that occurred around this time in October in different years. Interestingly enough, Gordie Howe played a role in both stories, despite the fact they happened almost 25 years apart. The source for this material is NHL: 100 Years of Hockey Glory by Rod Del Mundo and Andrew Podnieks. On October 15, 1989 Wayne Gretzky scored three points to surpass his idol Gordie Howe as the all-time leading scorer in the NHL. Many of you will recall that Gretzky had been traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. There was shock throughout Alberta and all Canada, after all Gretzky had led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups. Ironically, Gretzky and
the Kings were playing the Oilers on October 15, 1989. Gretzky started the game with 1,849 points, one point away from equalling Howe’s record, say Del Mundo and Podnieks. Fans didn’t have to wait too long for the fireworks because Gretzky set up a Bernie Nicholl’s goal in the first period to tie Howe. Then in the third period,
with his Kings down 4 -3, Gretzky scored a goal to surpass Howe and set a new scoring record. But the Great One wasn’t finished, he added another goal in over-time to win the game for the Kings. It is interesting to note that Howe set his record while playing in 1,767 games, while Gretzky set the new record in just 1,117 games. Of course, one could
debate that Howe played most of his games in the six team league, but nonetheless Gretzky established his place in hockey history. Now let’s go back to the mid-1960s, to October 19th, 1966 to be exact. That night the Big Bad Boston Bruins had their home opener against the Detroit Red Wings. The fans in the Boston Ga’dens that night got their first look at eighteenyear-old Bobby Orr. Orr recorded an assist in the game, which the Bruins won 6 -2. The rookie also got an elbow thrown his way from the Red Wings Gordie Howe. We can speculate that the elbow thrown by Howe was intended as a, “welcome to the big league.” Orr won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1966, and scored 41 points in 61 games, says Del Mundo and Podnieks. He would help turn the Bruins into Cup winners, and would become as well respected as Gordie Howe.