April 25 — Lafleur’s Legacy, Josi Jousting & Getzlaf’s Goodbye

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Last Night’s News 📰

PAUL PESTERS PANTHERS: Trick Nick Paul scored a shorthanded, between-the-legs goal before notching the eventual game-winner 1:33 later to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to an 8-4 victory over in-state rival Florida Panthers. Paul’s second goal of the game chased Spencer Knight (five goals on 17 shots) in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky (three goals on 16 shots), as Nikita Kucherov (two goals, three assists) and Steven Stamkos (two goals, two assists) combined for nine points to end the Panthers’ team-record winning streak at 13.

GETZ ALL, FOLKS: Sunday night was Ryan Getzlaf’s final game in the NHL. After spending 17 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, the 36-year-old captain is skipping the last two road games to finish his career at home. Welcoming Getzlaf to his final walk through Honda Center were staff, friends, and families of the lives he touched while in Southern California. 

GUY! GUY! GUY!: In the wake of Guy Lafleur’s passing on Friday after a battle with lung cancer, the Montreal Canadiens celebrated their franchise icon with an emotional pregame ceremony and video tribute ahead of a 5-3 home loss to the rival Boston Bruins. Lafleur will be honored with a national funeral in Montreal on May 3.

OW-VECHKIN: For the first time since March 21, 2008, two 50-goal scorers squared off as Alex Ovechkin hosted Auston Matthews on Sunday, and neither scored! To add injury to idleness, Ovechkin went down after tripping over Erik Kallgren’s stick on a breakaway early in the third and didn’t return. Toronto tied the game late, as the Maple Leafs outlasted the Capitals in a seven-round shootout

EASTERN ELITE: With that point earned in the shootout loss to the Leafs, the Capitals became the eighth team in the Eastern Conference to reach the 100-point mark on the season. It is the first time all eight playoff-bound teams from one conference hit the century milestone. Twice the Western Conference had seven teams reach 100 points (2006-07 and 2009-10), but the Calgary Flames (96 points) and Colorado Avalanche (95) fell just short, respectively. 

The Transcendent Guy Lafleur

News of Guy Lafleur’s passing came roughly around the same time as Friday’s Morning Skate newsletter went to subscribers, so we didn’t get the opportunity to pay tribute to the Montreal Canadiens legend until now. That means we’ve already had a chance to hear about “Le Démon Blond” as a five-time Stanley Cup champ and two-time Hart Trophy winner, but does that tell the whole story?

The revered tones used by his teammates, his fans, and the rivals that played against Lafleur extend far beyond some guy (or Guy) that collected some hardware and a couple of rings in his hockey career. The Flower was seen widely as a transcendent superstar of the game. In paying homage to the late, great Lafleur, let’s examine what made him so special:

Guy Lafleur (The Hockey Writers)

Mesmerizing Skill

Those who watched Lafleur during his 1970s heyday still marvel at the blend of speed and skill he showcased to the point where even his 560 career goals and 1,353 career points don’t seem to do him justice. Current TSN analyst and former player Ray Ferraro said it best as he tweeted, “What flair, style, elegance in his game. The stride, the Forum exploding as he flew down the wing.”

Aura of a Star

Lafleur was marketable before being marketable was cool. His speed incited a streaking flow of blonde hair that trailed him (Lafleur was among the last of the non-helmet era), creating the extravagant, electric image that often foretold a goal and always inspired excitement. It’s what a generation of hockey fans see when they think of Lafleur.

Lafleur’s Importance to the Province

Francophone culture has always been immensely and intrinsically rooted in the fabric of the Canadiens, so it was no wonder that the Thurso, Quebec native was such a celebrated son of the province and one of the pillars of the Habs’ dynasty. Lafleur will be honored with a national funeral in Quebec on May 3—the Quebec Premier announced—a recognition administered for franchise icons Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau.

Josi Joins Elite List

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi scored a goal in the team’s 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, notching his 90th point of the 2021-22 season. The 31-year-old is the first defenseman to score 90 points in a season since 1993-94 and just the fourth to reach the mark in the last 30 years.

Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Josi is in his 11th NHL season, all in Nashville. In 757 career games, he has totaled 537 points (138 goals, 399 assists), and he won the Norris Trophy in 2019-20 as the best all-around defenseman in the league. Through 77 games this season, he has 21 goals and 70 assists, both career highs. Here is a look at how his season and career stack up against the other three defensemen who’ve had 90-point seasons in the last 30 years.

Ray Bourque

Bourque tallied at least 90 points four times during his career. The Boston Bruins legend scored 96 (31 goals, 65 assists) in 1983-84, which was his highest-scoring season. He scored 95 (23 goals, 72 assists) in 1986-87, 94 (21 goals, 73 assists) in 1990-91, and 91 (20 goals, 71 assists) in 1993-94.

Bourque played 23 seasons in the NHL, all but two of them with Boston. In 1,612 career games, he had 1,579 points (410 goals, 1,169 assists). He also won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1979-80 and won the Norris five times, including three of his seasons of 90-plus points (1986-87, 1990-91, and 1993-94).

Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

He won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2000-01, his final season in the NHL. The record holder for most career points, goals, and assists by a defenseman in NHL history, Bourque was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Phil Housley

Housley had a career year in 1992-93, scoring 97 points (18 goals, 79 assists) for the Winnipeg Jets. He never got close to that total any other time during his 21-year NHL career, as his next-highest single-season point totals were 86 (23 goals, 63 assists) in 1991-92 and 81 (21 goals, 60 assists) in 1989-90.

Overall, Housley played for eight NHL teams during his career, totaling 1,232 points (338 goals, 894 assists) in 1,495 games. He ranks fourth among all defensemen in points and first among American-born defensemen.

Phil Housley, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Housley retired in 2004 and got inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. He was head coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 2017 to 2019 and currently serves as an assistant coach for the Arizona Coyotes.

Brian Leetch

Leetch is one of five defensemen in NHL history to register more than 100 points in a single season, scoring 102 (22 goals, 80 assists) in 1991-92 as a member of the New York Rangers. His next-highest single-season point total during his 18-year career was 88 (16 goals, 72 assists) the season before.

Leetch played 1,205 total games in the NHL, all but 76 of them with the Rangers. He finished with 1,028 points (247 goals, 781 assists). He won the Calder Trophy in 1988-89 and the Norris in 1991-92 and 1996-97.

Brian Leetch, New York Rangers (THW Archives)

Leetch also became the first American to win the Conn Smythe as the Stanley Cup playoff MVP, helping lead the Rangers to a title in 1993-94. He officially retired in 2007 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Josi’s career is far from over, and it’ll be easier to measure his stats and accomplishment once his career has finished. However, it is a good sign for him that the three other NHL defensemen to score at least 90 points in a season within the last 30 years are all in the Hall of Fame.

Player Spotlight – Ryan Getzlaf

It is the end of an era in Anaheim as their longtime captain will retire after the season. He has been part of the Ducks organization for 17 seasons and has been the captain since the 2010-11 season. Let’s spotlight him one final time as the hockey community prepares to bid him farewell. Fans know plenty about what Getzlaf has brought to the ice, but what about his life outside of hockey?

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Favorite Movie:

The Wedding Ringer

Celebrity Crush:

Eva Mendes

Guilty Pleasure TV Show:

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

What Would You Do if You Didn’t Play Hockey?:

Be a baseball player

What Is the Strangest Thing You Ever Autographed?:


Best Concert You’ve Ever Been To:

Garth Brooks

Biggest Pet Peeve in Life:

People who talk too much

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