March 10 — Next to the Rafters & Returning for Revenge

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

ORDER, ORDER: On Wednesday, three Canadian hockey icons received the Order of Canada, the highest recognition for those who make extraordinary contributions to the country. Guy Lafleur, Lanny McDonald, and Kim St-Pierre all earned Order honors to go along with their enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Congrats to all three decorated living legends!

HERITAGE HAPPENINGS: The Heritage Classic is on tap this coming weekend, and details surrounding the annual showcase are beginning to emerge. Alessia Cara will be the first intermission entertainment, the national anthems sung by country singer Lindsay Ell, and TikTok star Willow will perform as part of the festivities. Meanwhile, TNT’s broadcast of the showdown at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton will feature Wayne Gretzky as an analyst.

NHL EDGE WINS ALPHA AWARD: NHL Edge, the league’s player and puck tracking system installed in all 32 arenas, won the Alpha Award for Best Sports Innovation at the 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Saturday. Considered the highest honor of the conference awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Business School, NHL Edge uses infrared cameras and sensors embedded in the pucks and players’ jerseys.

OVECHKIN VS MCDAVID: Wednesday night featured two of the most prolific scorers in the NHL when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were in town to face Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. While McDavid would prevail with an overtime winner, Ovechkin’s teammate Nicklas Bäckström had a goal and an assist to reach 1,000 career points. 

Top-Shelf Thursday – Top Jersey Retirement Snubs

Today, the New Jersey Devils will host a retirement ceremony honoring Travis Zajac. He spent 15 seasons with the Devils playing over 1,000 games earning 550 points. He was traded to the New York Islanders for a chance to win the Stanley Cup but signed a one-day contract on Sept. 10, 2021, to officially retire as a Devil. At this time, New Jersey does not intend to retire his number to the rafters, and this got the Morning Skate crew thinking about what other “franchise players” did not have their number retired by their respective clubs. Let’s dive in. 

David Legwand – Nashville Predators

David Legwand was the first player ever drafted by the Nashville Predators. He played his first game during the 1998-99 season and spent 12 seasons in Smashville. Although Legwand got traded on March 5, 2014, to the Detroit Red Wings, he still holds plenty of records for his original franchise. He appeared in 956 games and is the club’s point leader with 566, while also leading in other categories, including goals and game-winning goals. The Predators retired the first number in franchise history last month, and it leaves fans questioning if Legwand is the next one. 

Ron Hextall – Philadelphia Flyers

When fans think of Philadelphia Flyers goaltending, only one name comes to mind immediately—Ron Hextall. Hextall played 489 games with the Flyers and won the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He currently holds the record for most games played by a Philly goaltender and the most wins with 240. After hanging up his skates, Hextall remained with the Flyers as a scout and eventually became the general manager. It’s hard to find a player more dedicated to Philadelphia’s organization than Hextall, which bears the question will his jersey ever be retired?

Theo Fleury – Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames currently have three jerseys hanging in the rafters, and fans know it will be four once Mark Giordano retires. This begs the question: what about Theo Fleury? He played for the Flames for 11 seasons and earned 466 points in 791 games. Fleury was a part of the organization’s only Cup win in 1989 and has provided some of the most memorable moments in the team’s history. It also doesn’t hurt that he remains a fan favorite in Stampede City. 

Best “Revenge Game” Performances

Tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights travel to Buffalo to battle the Sabres. It will be Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel’s first trip back to KeyBank Center since being traded by the Sabres to Vegas on Nov. 4. The 25-year-old, who was the second overall pick by the Sabres in the 2015 NHL Draft, spent his first six seasons in Buffalo.

Players don’t often harbor much ill will toward their former teams, but there can still possibly be some extra motivation when someone plays against their old club, even if they don’t admit it. With that in mind, here’s a look at a few of the best “revenge game” performances in NHL history.

John LeClair vs. Montreal Canadiens (Feb. 6, 1997)

LeClair was selected 33rd overall by the Canadiens in the 1987 NHL Draft. He made his debut with Montreal in 1991, appearing in 10 games during the latter part of the season and tallying two goals and five assists, and then played in 59 games the following season, finishing with 19 points. His breakout came in 1992-93 when the left winger scored 44 points in 72 games and helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup, scoring overtime winners in Games 3 and 4 of the Final. He followed that up with 43 points in 1993-94.

John LeClair was drafted by the Canadiens, but his best years came in Philadelphia (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Nine games into the 1994-95 season, LeClair was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. Once in Philly, his game blossomed, finishing that year with 54 total points before registering 97 points in each of the next two seasons. During that second 97-point season, LeClair scored four goals and added two assists in a 9-5 Flyers home win over the Canadiens.

Ray Getliffe vs. Boston Bruins (Feb. 6, 1943)

Getliffe debuted in the NHL on March 22, 1936, for the Boston Bruins. That was the only game he played in that season, but he played in 48 games for the Bruins during the 1936-37 season, tallying 31 points. Although he wasn’t quite as productive over the next two seasons, totaling 46 points in 79 games, he did help the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 1939.

Before the 1939-40 season, the Bruins traded Getliffe to the Montreal Canadiens. The center produced much of the same in his first three years in Montreal, totaling 74 points in 134 games. Then came the 1942-43 season, when the 29-year-old had a career year, finishing with 46 points in 50 games (he topped that total the following year with 53 points in 44 games, helping the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup). During that 1942-43 breakout season, Getliffe scored five goals and chipped in an assist in an 8-3 home win over his old team.

Bert Olmstead vs. Chicago Black Hawks (Jan. 9, 1954)

Olmstead started his NHL career with the Chicago Black Hawks (now Blackhawks), playing in 94 total games between 1948-51, including a 1949-50 season in which he had 49 points in 70 games. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 2, 1950, then moved from the Red Wings to the Canadiens less than three weeks later before appearing in a game with the Wings.

Bert Olmstead ended his career in Toronto, but he started in Chicago and blossomed in Montreal (THW Archive)

Olmstead’s prime years came in Montreal, which included a game during the 1953-54 season when he made history against the team that drafted him. The left winger tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) in a game against the Black Hawks in Montreal, becoming the second player in NHL history at the time to score that many points in a single game (it has since been matched 11 times and topped once).

Trade Deadline Primer: Central Division Sellers

Over their past three games, the Arizona Coyotes have shocked the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 and exploded for eight- and nine-goal outbursts in wins over the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, respectively. However, all of that output has only propelled the Yotes to 38 points in 56 games, continuing their residence in the Central Division basement. If 17 goals and an upset of Colorado isn’t extricating this team from “seller” status, nothing will.

The Coyotes, however, expected to be here. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are in an entirely different situation than anticipated and could be one of the most intriguing clubs to watch across the NHL leading up to March 21. Carrying very different expectations into the season, Arizona and Chicago now hold shared status as the sellers of the Central Division.

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Assuming all conditions are met on the Coyotes’ acquired draft picks, the organization already owns a whopping eight picks over the first two rounds of the 2022 Entry Draft. A few more couldn’t hurt, I suppose. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun stands out as one of the biggest speculated names on the market and would reap a windfall in prospects and picks if the 23-year-old gets dealt. Lawson Crouse’s name has also come up in trade rumors. GM Bill Armstrong does know that rebuilding usually involves trading older players and keeping younger ones, right?

Chicago Blackhawks

Marc-André Fleury (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a storm brewing in the Windy City, where an expensive, veteran-laden roster anchored by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Seth Jones, and Marc-André Fleury (combined cap hit this year: $33.4 million) has underperformed significantly. Now, new GM Kyle Davidson is using the “R” word, raising questions about the futures of foundational Blackhawks Kane and Toews. Neither will likely be moved in the coming weeks, so present trade speculation will probably focus on Fleury and blueliner Calvin de Haan.

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NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule