Week In Review after games played on Saturday, October 14, 1989
This was the 1989-1990 NHL season’s first full week of action. Teams are beginning to find out who they are, having played between 4 and 6 games. Let’s look at the week’s action.
The big topic consuming the NHL is Wayne Gretzky’s pursuit of Gordie Howe’s NHL record of 1,850 points. Coming into the season, he was 13 points short. Heading into the game at Edmonton tomorrow, Gretzky needs 6 points to tie the marker. Although unlikely to happen, there is a lot of buzz in Edmonton this weekend. The Kings host the Bruins on Tuesday night and then travel to St. Louis next Saturday, October 21st. The record could potentially be equaled and passed this week. The Kings as a team have gotten off to a great start, sitting in first place in the Smythe Division with a 4-1-0 record. Defenseman Steve Duchesne looks like an early Norris Trophy candidate, leading the Kings in many offensive categories including 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points and an NHL-leading +8.
On the flip-side, the Edmonton Oilers are having some difficulty coming out of the gate, losing 3 straight games after winning the opener against Vancouver to fall to 1-3-0. That puts them in last place in the Smythe Division. They have been missing starting goaltender Grant Fuhr due to an emergency appendectomy he suffered and was treated for in training camp. Now they have learned that Center Jimmy Carson, a key piece in the Gretzky trade has left the team following Friday’s 5-4 loss to Boston and has demanded a trade.
Unhappy Carson Quits Edmonton:
Hockey: Oiler center leaves team on eve of Gretzky's chance to break scoring record.
October 15, 1989|TRACY DODDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER
EDMONTON, Canada — The Kings were greeted at the airport here Saturday morning by TV crews, crowds cheering Wayne Gretzky and the news that former King Jimmy Carson has left the Edmonton Oilers.
One of the Oiler equipment managers, at the airport to help transport the Kings' equipment to the Northlands Coliseum for tonight's game, broke the news to some of Carson's best friends.
It was quite a jolt to the Kings, who have been caught up in the countdown to the game--perhaps tonight--that Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe's all-time National Hockey League scoring record.
The Kings have been basking in the glory of the attention and excitement that came with Gretzky in a trade with Edmonton in August, 1988. The news that Carson has left town, choosing not to play at all rather than continue playing for the Oilers, was a harsh reminder that not everyone was thrilled with the trade.
Carson didn't want to be traded. He was never happy with the Oilers.
King owner Bruce McNall, who offered the Oilers an extra $5 million for Gretzky in an attempt to keep Carson, said Saturday that he feels "just terrible" about Carson. But that was all that he could say without risking being charged with tampering.
The Oilers aren't happy with Carson, either.
It won't be easy for the Oiler management to sit through the celebration that will erupt tomorrow tonight if Gretzky scores his sixth point. Not only are they without Gretzky, they are without the talented young center who was supposed to be a large part of their compensation.
Asked how he expects the Oiler administration to handle the Carson situation, Gretzky said: "The track record of the Oilers is that the team comes before any player. They won't panic to make a deal. I don't think they'll sit him out all year, either, because that hurts them, too.
"But they're in the driver's seat. They won't panic. If the right deal comes along, they'll make a trade."
In the meantime, Carson will not play.
"God, I don't know what to think about that," said Luc Robitaille, one of Carson's closest friends. "It is a big surprise to me now. I talked to him over the summer and I knew he wasn't happy. He told me that he wouldn't be back after this year.
"But I didn't know he would do this. On the other hand, when Jimmy wants something, he's a pretty smart guy . . .
"I can't blame him for being upset about the trade. Who would want to get traded from L.A.?"
How times have changed since Gretzky changed teams.
But one thing that has not changed is the way the fans here love Gretzky. Outside the Northlands Coliseum stands a 10-foot statue of Gretzky in an Oiler sweater, holding a Stanley Cup over his head. It is inscribed: "A true champion and gentleman of dedication and character whose talents brought world recognition to the city of Edmonton. Erected in sincere appreciation by the citizens of Edmonton."
The statue was erected after Gretzky was traded.
Scotty Morrison of the NHL Hall of Fame told Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun: "If the record happens in . . . L.A. I think we'll be stopping the game for five minutes. If it happens in Edmonton, I don't think we'll be able to do any speaking for five minutes."
The deafening ovation is expected to last much longer than that.
Referee Andy van Hellemond, who will work tonight's game, said the league has suspended Rule 66-S, which reads: "A bench minor shall be imposed on a team whose players leave the bench for any purpose other than a line change."
The players will be allowed to jump over the boards in order to congratulate Gretzky when he scores his sixth point.
Although it would take a monster performance, no one is doubting that he is capable of doing it.
All of his major milestones have come here. It was here that he scored five goals in one game to become the only player to score 50 goals in the first 39 games of the season. It was here that he passed the puck to Jari Kurri for the point that put him ahead of Howe's all-time assist record. It was here that he scored his 500th goal. It was here that his 51-game scoring streak came to an end.
Gretzky has been saying for months that his best guess was that the record would be broken in the Kings' sixth game of the season--at Edmonton.
He told Oiler Kevin Lowe that last July. Recounting that conversation prompted Lowe to recall: "About three years ago, we were talking about it and he had it mapped out for late last season. But he got hurt two years ago, and missed 16 games. That threw him off schedule. It's still amazing that he had charted out his future that explicitly. It's a testimony to his belief in his ability."
And what does Lowe think about Gretzky setting the record against the Oilers: "I'll be very happy for him, just as long as we win the hockey game."
Former Oiler teammate Mark Messier has asked to be allowed to say a few words during the NHL's ceremony.
As for Oiler Coach John Muckler? "It's great for the game, but I would like not to see it happen here and we'll try to prevent it," Muckler said. "It won't be the easiest thing to stop the greatest hockey player in the world, but if I had my druthers. . . "
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Quebec Nordiques hold the shared title of being the most surprising teams out of the gate at 4 points Real vs. Actual. The Leafs, after starting out sluggish with two straight losses, have beaten Buffalo, Chicago, and Winnipeg for 3 straight victories. Quebec is a bigger surprise, winning 3 of their first 4 games before getting blown out at Minnesota Saturday night. The Nordiques are projected to earn only 12 wins this entire season and they are already a quarter there, thanks to Joe Sakic’s league-leading 8 goals.
Every team in the NHL has at least 1 loss. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who are tied with the Rangers for a league-worst -5 points Real vs. Actual, are the only NHL team without a point. They have only had 7 powerplays in 4 contests and have a league worst -12 goal differential. They have made a habit of digging an early hole in games, much like they are in the standings.
The Montreal Canadiens sit atop of the NHL with 9 points, although they are one of three teams who have played 6 games in the NHL’s first 11 days. They are at 4-1-1 thanks to solid goaltending from Patrick Roy and Brian Hayward. They have the most takeaways of any team as well as the lowest G.A.A. and also lowest Save Percentage.
The Norris Division looks to be the most competitive out of the gate. Through 2 weeks, 2 points separates the entire Division with St. Louis sitting on top with a 3-1-0 record thanks to 2 victories against Division Rival Chicago.
The league leaders are starting to show who is having a fast start to the 1989-1990 season. Joe Sakic leads the league in goals with 8 in 5 games, followed by Steve Yzerman and Ron Francis with 6. Yzerman has chipped in 9 assists to claim the points lead with 15, more than teammate Gerard Gallant and Ron Francis with 12.
The Los Angeles Kings are at the front of the +/- leaders. The Kings are tied for a league high 19 even strength goals, and are near the top in even strength goals against. The defensive pairing of Steve Duchesne and Larry Robinson are at +8, while teammate Luc Robitaille is also at 8. Los Angeles right winger Bernie Nichols rounds out the top 4 at +6.
The Kings also have the second highest PIM getter in the league in Ken Baumgartner. North Stars winger Basil McRae leads the league with 33 PIM in 5 games. He is on pace for 528 for the season.
PENALTY MINUTES LEADERS
Steve Weeks and Mike Fitzpatrick find themselves at the top of most goaltending categories due to playing backup roles. Ron Tugnutt of Quebec and Patrick Roy also are at the lead of the pack. Tugnutt’s .960 save percentage and 1.33 GAA are the biggest reason the Nordiques are at a league-high +4 Real vs. Actual score. Roy and Hayward as a tandem for Montreal have been a wall. Roy has a .939 Save % and 2.00 GAA. Hayward has a .922 Save % and 2.40 GAA.
SAVE PERCENTAGE LEADERS
GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE LEADERS
GOALIE RATING PERCENTAGE LEADERS
Game of the Week: on Friday, October 13th, still reeling from blowing a 3-goal third period lead 2 days prior at home against Washington in what resulted in a 4-4 tie, Hartford travelled to Buffalo to face the Sabres. This time, Hartford was down 3 goals in the second intermission and it looked like they were well on their way to deepening their early hole in the Adams Division cellar at what would be an 0-4-1 record.
The Whalers’ had other ideas. Led by 3 goals and 9 points from the top forward line of Krygier, Francis, and Verbeek, the Whalers chipped away at Sabres’ goalie Darren Puppa. Puppa, who only had faced 16 shots in the 1st 2 periods, would face 16 in the third period barrage. Pat Verbeek scored his fourth goal on the powerplay just 2:33 into the period, followed by Ron Francis’ fourth just 5 minutes later. With 7:28 remaining, an unlikely scorer, Joel Quenneville let go of a seeing-eye shot from the point that beat Puppa to tie the game. With 4:47 remaining, Todd Krygier rounded out the scoring with his first of the season to take the decisive 4-3 lead. The Whalers have carried the momentum and scored 3 first period goals on their way to beat the unbeaten New Jersey Devils to ride a 3 game unbeaten streak now, surging in the Adams Division standings.
Fight of the week: In a chippy game between the Flames and Capitals, Al MacInnis was an unlikely combatant and found himself throwing punches with Scott Stevens on his way to registering a Gordie Howe hat trick in the 1st period (a goal, assist, and a fight). An even stranger battle was wager later in the night. With just over 10 minutes remaining and Calgary holding a 4-2 lead, Russian import Sergei Makarov wanted to send a message that he would not tolerate being pushed around. During a scramble in front of Washington goalie Don Beaupre, Makarov and another unlikely combatant, Doug Wickenheiser dropped the gloves. The fight was mainly grappling and not many meaningful punches connected, but the fight symbolizes that the Russians have arrived and are willing to quickly adapt to the North American style of hockey.
There is still not big separation in the Molson 3-Stars points leaderboard. Steve Yzerman leads the NHL with 8. Minnesota’s Brian Bellows, and Los Angeles’ Steve Duchesne have 7, as does Quebec goalie Ron Tugnutt. 8 Are tied with 6 points.
MOLSON 3 STAR POINTS LEADERS
3 Stars of the Week:
1. Ron Francis - Hartford
2. Steve Yzerman - Detroit
3. Ron Tugnutt – Quebec
In other world news, on Friday, October 13th, The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 190.58 points, or 6.91 percent, to close at 2,569.26. It is the second largest drop in history.
Also tonight, the Oakland Athletics kicked the World Series off with a 5-0 win against the San Francisco Giants, Dave Stewart earning the win. There was a pre-game tribute to the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamotti.
“Sowing The Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears takes over the Billboard #1 song from Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much”
“Look Who's Talking” is expected to break the record ($11.1 million) for the highest weekend debut for a film released during the Friday the 13th weekend.