Over the years. Aug. 16 proved to be a very action-packed day for the National Hockey League’s resident in Arizona. A Stanley Cup hero in Detroit was acquired on this date 71 years ago. Also, one of the greatest American-born and undrafted players in league history signed his first professional contract.
A Busy Day in the Desert
Coyotes Trade for JR
The Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes have made some big moves on Aug. 16 over the years. The biggest one came in 1996 when they acquired center Jeremy Roenick from the Chicago Blackhawks, in exchange for Alexei Zhamnov, Craig Mills and a first-round draft pick.
Roenick became an elite goal-scorer with the Blackhawks. He had four straight seasons of at least 41 goals, including 53 in 1991-92 and 50 the following season. Roenick never came close to those heights with the Coyotes, but he was still very productive. He scored at least 24 goals in each of his five seasons in the desert. He tallied a total of 141 goals and 351 points in 384 games during this stint with the Coyotes. After leaving for the Philadelphia Flyers via free agency in 2001, he returned for the 2006-07 season.
The Blackhawks traded one of their biggest stars mainly because they did not want to pay Roenick big money. While Zhamnov was never the goal producer Roenick was in Chicago, he was still an effective player with the Blackhawks. He scored 140 goals and 424 in 528 games over eight seasons. He was traded to the Flyers in 2004, where he briefly was a teammate of Roenick.
Craig Mills only played 27 games with the Blackhawks between 1997 and 1999, picking up just three assists. The draft pick, 16th overall in 1997, was used to select right wing Ty Jones. He played in 14 career NHL games, eight with the Blackhawks, and never scored a point.
On Aug. 16, 2006, the Coyotes signed 15-year veteran Owen Nolan to a one-year contract. The 34-year-old scored 16 goals and 40 points in his lone season with the Coyotes. He signed with the Calgary Flames the following summer before officially retiring in 2012 after two seasons with the Minnesota Wild and one in Europe. Nolan scored 422 goals and 885 points in 1,200 career NHL games.
A decade later, on Aug. 16, 2016, the Coyotes signed Radim Vrbata. This was the veteran winger’s third stint in Arizona. He played for them during the 2007-08 season, then again between 2009 and 2014.
Vrbata played in 81 games during the 2016-17 season and scored 20 goals and 55 points. He played one more season with the Florida Panthers before retiring in 2018. Out of his 1,057 career NHL games, 509 of them came in a Coyotes uniform. His 157 goals are the eighth-most in team history.
Red Wings Acquire Stanley Cup Hero
The Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins completed a big six-player trade on Aug. 16, 1949. The Red Wings acquired Pete Babando, Jimmy Peters, Clare Martin and Lloyd Durham in exchange for Bill Quackenbush and Pete Horeck.
Quackenbush, already an All-Star in Detroit, continues his high level of play over seven seasons with the Bruins. Horeck had 15 goals and 33 points in his two seasons in Boston. Martin, a defenseman, and Peters both played two seasons with the Red Wings. Peters scored 31 goals and 68 points. They were both traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1951.
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Babando only played one season with the Red Wings, scoring just six goals and 12 points during the 1949-50 season. However, he scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history during his final shift with the team.
On April 4, 1950, the Red Wings hosted the New York Rangers, at the Detroit Olympia, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Babando, who was goalless in postseason heading into the game, scored a power-play goal early in the second period to cut the Rangers’ lead to 2-1. Sid Abel tied the game just 21 seconds later. The Rangers and Red Wings traded goals late the frame to send the game into the second intermission knotted at 3-3.
At the 8:31 mark of the second overtime, Babando struck for his second goal of the game and the biggest of his career.
He beat future Hall of Fame goaltender Chuck Rayner to score the first-ever overtime goal in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The championship was the fourth in franchise history and the first since 1943. Just over three months later, on July 13, 1950, Babando is sent to the Blackhawks in part of a nine-player trade.
Odds & Ends
On Aug. 16, 1949, the Rangers purchased the contract of right wing Bud Poile from the Red Wings. He split the 1949-50 season between the Rangers and Boston Bruins before signing in the USHL as a player/coach.
Poile is best remembered for his career off the ice. He was named the first general manager of the Flyers in 1967. He laid the foundation of a team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970s before leaving to become the first general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. Taking over the reins of an expansion team runs in the family as his son, David, has been the one and only general manager in the history of the Nashville Predators.
The St. Louis Blues signed undrafted free agent Joe Mullen, on Aug. 16, 1979, after he completed his college career with Boston College. He made his NHL debut with the Blues in 1981 and quickly became an elite goal scorer.
Mullen scored 502 goals and 1,063 points in 1,062 games over 16 NHL seasons. He won three Stanley Cups during his Hall of Fame career; one with the Calgary Flames and two with the Pittsburgh Penguins. At the time of his retirement in 1997, he was the highest-scoring American-born player in league history.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Doug Carpenter as their new head coach, on Aug. 16, 1989. He replaced George Armstrong, who was fired two days earlier.
On Aug. 16, 2004, Tampa Bay Lightning re-acquired center Vinny Prospal from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. This was Prospal’s second tenure with the team, having played for the Lightning between 2001 and 2003. He was traded to the Flyers in 2007 but returned for the third time prior to the 2008-09 season. Overall, he scored 127 goals and 371 points in 468 games over his three stints in Tampa Bay.
The Predators re-signed forward Steve Sullivan to a new four-year deal on Aug. 16, 2005.
He scored nine goals and 21 points, in 30 games, after coming over in a trade with the Blackhawks the previous season. Sullivan, now the interim general manager of the Coyotes, played in 317 games for the Predators, scoring 100 goals and 263 points.
Happy Birthday to You
A talented group of 20 current and former NHL players were born on this date. The first was Irv Frew, born on Aug. 15, 1907, in England. He played in 96 NHL games, between 1934 and 1936, with the Montreal Maroons, St. Louis Eagles and Montreal Canadiens. The most recent Aug. 16 birthday was Los Angeles Kings’ forward Gabriel Vilardi in 1999.
The best player of this group is Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price, born on Aug. 16, 1987, in Anahim Lake, British Columbia. Originally selected with the fifth pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, he has been one of the top goaltenders since breaking into the league in 2007.
The 2014-15 season was one for ages as he won a career-high 44 games with a .933 save percentage (SV%), 1.96 goals-against average (GAA) and nine shutouts. He won the Vezina Trophy for being the league’s top goaltender. In addition, he was awarded both the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award for being voted the NHL’s best player by writers and players, respectively. Through the end of the 2019-20 season, Price is 348-250-74 with a .917 SV%, 2.49 GAA and 48 shutouts.
The best skater of the lot is Eddie Olczyk. While most of this generation knows Olczyk for his work in the broadcast booth, he had a very successful NHL career. Born in Chicago, IL, on Aug. 16, 1966, he was drafted by his hometown Blackhawks with the third overall pick of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
Olczyk scored 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games. His 16-season career was spent with the Blackhawks (twice), Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets (twice), Rangers, Kings and Penguins. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
Other notable players born on this date include Steve Payne (62), Cory Sarich (42), Garnet Exelby (39), Travis Hamonic (30), Adam Pelech (26) and Kaapo Kahkonen (24).