Sunday, February 21, 2010
On this date in 1999, Ray Sheppard became the first player in NHL history to score 20 goals or more in a season for six different teams when he scored his 20th of the year for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-1 win over the visiting New York Islanders.
Sheppard was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and began his NHL career in 1987, scoring 65 points from 27 assists and 38 goals as a rookie, and surpassing the 20 goal mark for his first club. He would make the 20 goal mark again the next season with 22, but miss nearly the majority of the season due to an ankle injury and spend the end of the season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
In the offseason, Sheppard was dealt to the New York Rangers, who purchased his contract for one dollar. The Sabres were going to buy out Sheppard's contract, and Neil Smith picked up Sheppard to avoid him hitting the free agent market. If Sheppard played less than 60 games in New York, the Rangers would be paid $50,000 by the Sabres, which was less money than the $75,ooo Buffalo was going to spend to buy out Sheppard's contract, and if Sheppard scored 30 goals or more, Buffalo would receive a sixth-round draft pick in 1991.
In the 1990-91 season with the Rangers, Sheppard would score 24 goals, the second team for which he'd score at least 20, but his season was cut short by a knee injury that cost him a month before a separated collar bone and a broken shoulder blade suffered in a game against the New Jersey Devils ended his season for good.
During the season, Smith was at a card show and noticed a Ray Sheppard rookie card selling for $2, which caused Smith to say to the dealer, "I"m not spending more for the card than I did for the player."
He moved to the Detroit Red Wings for 1991-92 as a free agent for four productive seasons, with 36 goals and then 32, before his career best season in 1993-94 when he would set career highs with 52 goals, 41 assists and 93 points, 27 more than he would score before or since.
After another 30 goal season for Detroit, his third club with 20 or more, he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks, where he would add another club to the list with 27 goals in his only season with San Jose before the Sharks sent him to the Florida Panthers at the trading deadline in time for the Panthers unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Sheppard would score eight goals and 16 points in 21 playoff games.
In his first full season with the Panthers, 29 goals kept his perfect record intact, as he was now five for five in providing his teams with 20 goal seasons.
The 1997-98 season saw Sheppard play 61 games for Florida before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in late March.
It was on this date in 1999 that Sheppard scored his 20th goal for the Hurricanes, on his way to 25 that season, to become the first player in NHL history to record 20 goal seasons for six different clubs.
He would conclude his NHL career by resigning with the Panthers as a free agent for the 1999-00 season and then spend one season in Europe with the SCL Tigers of the Swiss National League A.
Sheppard's final NHL totals were 817 games played, 357 goals and 300 assists for 657 points. Not bad for a guy who was once traded for $1.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Detroit Red Wings Ray Sheppard jersey from his finest season as a professional, when he topped 50 goals and 90 points for the only time, 16 goals and 27 points more than his next highest totals.
In all Sheppard wore 14 different jerseys during his time in the NHL, the home and road jerseys for each of the six clubs he would play for, with the addition of the Detroit Red Wings Turn Back the Clock Detroit Falcons jersey worn in the 1991-92 season and the Florida Panthers blue alternate jersey worn during his final NHL season in 1999-00.
Here Sheppard scores one of his 357 career goals for the Panthers on the power play against the Boston Bruins.
Dasherboard: Yesterday's Olympic hockey began with a terrific game between Switzerland and Norway that had the building rocking as Switzerland scored a minute into the contest before Norway evened the score later in the first period on a goal by Tore Vikingstad.
Norway took their first lead of the tournament when they got their second goal five minutes into the second on the power play. Roman Wick converted his chance four minutes later to even the score once again. Raffaele Sannitz then scored an amazing goal when he received the puck just in front of Swiss goaltender Pal Grotnes, deftly flicked the puck up and over Grotnes glove and converted the goal by then backhanding the puck into the net out of mid-air as it began it's decent! Vikingstad got his second of the game three minutes later pull Norway even yet again at 3-3.
The third period was played scoreless for the first half until Switzerland edged ahead once again with a goal on the powerplay at 9:56. Two minutes later Vikingstad completed his hat trick to even the score at 4-4 as the Norwegian fans erupted as Norway simply refused to go away.
When time ran out on regulation the appreciative fans gave both teams a well deserved enthusiastic round of applause as both teams earned a well-deserved point in the standings for their thoroughly entertaining efforts in a close fought battle between two evenly matched sides.
The game was settled in the five minute overtime when Romano Lemm redirected a centering pass from Sandy Jeannin to earn the Swiss a valuable additional point in the standings.
The second game of the day saw a determined Slovakian team do exactly what they needed to do by taking down overmatched Latvia 6-0, which gives them 5 points in the standings and a +5 goal differential. They can finish no worse than seventh in the standings and perhaps as high as sixth if the Russians would lose to the Czechs in regulation.
The final game of the day was another good one, this time between Belarus and Germany. Dennis Seidenberg got Germany's first goal in three games on the power play five and a half minutes into the game. Belarus evened the score at the nine minute mark and the period finished even at 1-1. The only goal of the second period went to Belarus at 8:36, giving them a one goal lead with 20 minutes to play.
The game seemed to have settled in for a nap during the first half of the period when suddenly it came to life, and in a big way. Sergei Kostitsyn got the ball rolling with a goal at 11:10 to put Belarus up 3-1 and seemingly in command based on the German's lack of scoring to this point, but after a near miss for another Belarus goal, Germany got a goal just 39 seconds later to reduce the margin back to 1.
Then, Marcel Goc scored 21 seconds later, the third goal in a minute, to even the score at 3-3 with less than eight minutes to play and the building was rocking once more.
Belarus capitalized on a power play with a goal 2:26 later by captain Ruslan Salei, whose laser bean shot just skipped off the top of German goalie Thomas Greiss' leg pad, to take back the lead at 4-3, and with Germany pressing to equalize, Belarus put the game away with a goal by Alexsei Kalyuzhny with 1:15 to go, the fifth goal in the final nine minutes, a complete turnaround from the first half of the period. Kostitsyn's assist on the goal was his third point of the period and fourth of the game.
Belarus will now face Switzerland on Tuesday in a one game elimination to decide which team will move on to the quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will have to await the results of today's games to learn their next opponent.
Today's games are some real heavyweight matchups, as the top two teams in each group face off to determine which teams will win their group and get an automatic bye into the quarterfinals, along with two days rest, while their opponents on Wednesday will be going on no rest, having played a knockout game the day prior.
Some are calling this perhaps the greatest day in international hockey as the top six teams in the world are all paired up in revivals of the last three Olympic gold medal games in what should be a full day of the best players in the world playing for their home countries paired off with arguably their greatest rival.
First up on "rivalry day" is Russia and the Czech Republic (NBC) revisit their gold medal matchup from 1998 in Japan. The Czechs currently lead the group 6 points to 4 and can win the group by getting to overtime, win or lose. Russia needs a victory in regulation to overcome the Czechs and earn a bye.
Neighbors Canada and the United States square off (MSNBC) in a repeat of their gold medal matchup from 2002 for Group A, with the US holding a 1 point margin going in. Despite being ahead in the standings, it's a winner-take-all game, as any victory by Canada gives them first place and the bye. Any win for the USA, in regulation or overtime, puts them in a strong position to get a bye, but even a point for reaching overtime should do the same if the other two games are settled in regulation, preventing the points from being spread around among too many teams.
The final game of the round sees neighbors Sweden and Finland (MSNBC) renewing their classic rivalry and gold medal matchup from 2006 in Torino, Italy with the winner taking the group outright. An overtime game could see both teams with byes, especially if Sweden wins, as Finland's goal differential is quite strong when compared to the United States.