As the editor of Backhand Shelf, I receive a good number of hockey books to review. I try to get to them all, and most certainly, I try to share the good ones I come across. Today I returned back from Thanksgiving to find Liam Maguire’s “Next Goal Wins! – The ultimate NHL historian’s one-of-a-kind collection of hockey trivia” on my desk, and man, is it a beauty. I got lost in it for hours.

Chapters include “Defunct team trivia,” “Stanley Cup ancecdotes,” “Firsts and lasts,” “Best of the best” and a handful of others. The following five questions (and answers) are from his 50-part section “My top questions” at the end of the book.

You can buy the book for under $20 here if you’re into the history of hockey. It’s a pretty cool read. You can also check out his website here, and follow him on Twitter here.

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Before you read the questions, feel free to see if you can answer any on your own. These are all excerpts directly from the book, and were largely new to me. Be warned: I chose a few Gretzky-centric ones.

How many goaltenders did Wayne Gretzky score against in his NHL career?

It’s a staggering number: 155. Gretzky’s five most frequent victims combined to allow 115 of his 894 regular-season goals. Richard Brodeur led the way with 29; Mike Liut gave up 23; and Don Beaupre, Kirk McLean and Greg Millen each surrendered 21.

Brodeur is the only goalie Gretzky ever beat on a penalty shot. Of his five career attempts, only one was a goal. It happened on January 19, 1983, against Vancouver. Those who successfully stopped him included Winnipeg’s Pierre Hamel, in 1982; Michel “Bunny” Larocque, then with Toronto, in 1982; Pat Riggin of Washington, also in 1982; and Peter Ing of Toronto in 1991. Gretzky was a member of the Los Angeles Kings at the time.

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Wayne Gretzky scored at least one point in 48 of the 49 NHL arenas he played in. Which was the only rink in which he did not score a point during his NHL career?

The Springfield Civic Center. This rink was the temporary home of the Hartford Whalers for the last year and a half of their WHA existence and the first five months of their NHL residency. Their permanent home, the Hartford Civic Center, was being repaired during that time after its roof collapsed during a blizzard on January 18, 1978. Actually, this is a bit of a trick question because, while Gretzky did not record a point in Springfield during his NHL career, he did score a goal there during his first visit–in the one season he played in the WHA–on November 9, 1978.

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33. Who is the only player in NHL history to have a penalty-shot goal disallowed?

Calgary’s Joe Mullen. On March 28, 1987, in a game that Calgary led, 4-3, Mullen was awarded a penalty shot with 35 seconds to play after Los Angeles Kings goaltender Al Jensen threw his stick. Just before Mullen took the shot, L.A.’s Bernie Nicholls, at the direction of Kings coach Mike Murphy, told referee Kerry Fraser that the Kings were protesting under Rule 20(e) and callinig for a stick measurement. The rule at the time stated that there would be a measurement, but only after the shooter had taken his shot–and only if he scored. The penalty shot went ahead and Mullen scored. The stick was measured. It was found to be illegal and the goal was disallowed.

The rule has since been changed. As it currently stands, if a team calls for a measurement prior to the penalty shot, it will result in a penalty against the team lodging the protest if the shooter’s stick turns out tot be legal. If the stick is illegal, the shooter will be assessed a minor penalty, but he still is able to take the shot–with a different stick, of course.

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How many players in NHL history have worn the number 99?

Five – or six, depending on which publication you read. There’s Gretzky, of course. Wilf Paiement wore the number with Toronto between 1980 and 1982, while Rick Dudley wore number 99 with Winnipeg in 1981. Those are the three modern players. There are three other names associated with the number, all of who played with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1934-35 season.

At that time, the NHL was in dire straits, as was more of North America, because of the Great Depression. A number of teams had folded, and fans were staying away in droves. In an unusual marketing ploy, the Canadiens decided to steal a page from the NFL. The Habs felt that part of the league’s success in stimulating fan interest was the high sweater numbers worn by its players, so they had players suiting up in number 75, 88, 55, 64–you name it.

It had long been thought that three players on the Canadiens team wore the number 99: Leo Bourgeault, Des Roche and Joe Lamb. Research done by hockey historian Gerry Rochon of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, indicates that Roche did not wear 99 but instead 75. So take your pick, depending on what you’ve read. For the record, I’ll go with Mr. Rochon.

Following are a couple of items on the three Habs, and I’ve included Roche because the little gem I unearthed on him is one of the all-time best. Joe Lamb led the NHL in penalty minutes in 1929-30 with 119 in 44 games. he was a member of the Ottawa Senators at that time. Des Roche and his brother Earl are the only brother combination to play together on four different NHL teams–the Montreal Maroons, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Eagles and Detroit Red Wings. In my opinion, this is one of the most amazing facts I have ever discovered. Leo Bourgeault was on a Stanley Cup winner with the New York Rangers in 1927-28.

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What NHL team once drafted a player who did not exist?

The Buffalo Sabres. 1974, the Sabres had one of the league’s most creative public-relations people on their staff. Paul Weiland was his name, and he was the impetus behind one of the best practical jokes of all time on draft day. Weiland came up with fake stats for a player named Taro Tsujimoto from the Tokyo Katanas in the Japanese league. With the Sabres’ second-last pick, 183rd overall, Taro was selected. Judging by the bogus stats being circulated around the room, it was thought that Punch Imlach and company had just made the steal of the draft.

When the prank was uncovered, NHL president Clanence Campbell was not amused. He ruled the pick invalid and denied Buffalo permission to choose a real player in Tsujimoto’s place. The Sabres had one more selection in the draft, 196th overall, and they did take a real player with that one: Bob Geoffrion from the Cornwall Royals. Like the fictitious Taro Tsujimoto, Geoffrion never played in the NHL.

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That’s just a taste of the detail and interesting factoids you can dig up throughout his 230 page compilation. It’s thoroughly researched, and endlessly interesting. Did you know that the last number from 00 (and 0) to 99 to finally get put into circulation was 84, first worn by Guillaume Latendresse in 2006-07? No? Well you do now.

Again: check this book out. It’s worth it.

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For the chance to win hockey books and other swag from Backhand Shelf, like our Facebook page, where we’ll occasionally be asking trivia questions throughout the ongoing lockout.

Comments (6)

  1. Love this kinda stuff, gonna have to check out this book.

    Re: penalty shot stick measurement- some cool nuggets in there. So does a stick measurement have to be called before the penalty shot is taken? Or can a negated goal result if a stick is found to be illegal after the penalty shot but before play has resumed?
    If a goal can be taken off the board due to an illegal stick, seems only an idiot would call for the measurement BEFORE the shot. Coaches should know the rules.

    • Yep, sounds like a must read for me too. Thanks for sharing Justin.

    • they’ve changed the rule so an illegal stick after a goal will not nullify the goal. So you can call for a measurement after the shot, but that would be the idiotic move to take since a goal scored will stand.

  2. Represent! (There’s a minimum post length requirement?)

  3. I feel like no one got “Jim Schwartz’s” joke up there. Coaches should definitely know the rules… haha

  4. Great article! The craziest fact for me was that the Buffalo Sabres once drafted a player that didn’t exist. That’s unbelievable. Some great NHL trivia here: http://www.talkhockey.ca/whosthatnhlplayer

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