Week In Review after games played on Saturday, December 9th, 1989


Ubriaco, Esposito Out In Pittsburgh

Esposito Takes The Fall For Floundering Penguins

December 6, 1989- Tony Esposito won 463 games when he was a Blackhawks goaltender from 1969 until 1984 and recorded a team-record 80 shutouts in the regular season and playoffs.

But he was unmasked and shot down much quicker in the slippery environs of the front office. The Pittsburgh Penguins fired him Tuesday after a little more than one season as the club`s general manager and director of operations. ``I would say he`s stunned,`` said Penguins trainer Skip Thayer, who held the same job for many years for the Hawks.

Esposito won only 57 games in Pittsburgh, but then he didn`t have a goaltender as good as he was. But he did have Mario Lemieux, and the organization expects a lot when you have one of the National Hockey League`s greatest players.

Penguins owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., also dismissed head coach Gene Ubriaco, who ended his brief playing career with the Hawks in 1969-70 when Esposito was NHL Rookie of the Year.

Craig Patrick, formerly general manager of the New York Rangers and GM of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Club, replaced Esposito and will be Pittsburgh`s interim head coach.

Ubriaco had been rumored to be in trouble for weeks, but Esposito wasn`t expected to take the fall with him. Some Pittsburgh players had grumbled about Ubriaco`s abilities, and it appears that Esposito`s choice of coaches in his first NHL management job was his undoing.

For now, ex-Hawks player Rick Paterson, who was an Ubriaco assistant, is still on the Pittsburgh payroll.

That was the first question that came to Hawks defenseman Doug Wilson`s mind after he heard about the dismissal of Esposito and Ubriaco while driving home from Tuesday`s practice at the Stadium.

``Tony and Ricky are friends, and you don`t like to see this happen,``

Wilson said. ``Tony had moved his family and was trying to make the best of a challenge.``

The Penguins are 6-18-2, have given up 114 goals (fourth worst in the league) and are mired in in last place in the NHL.

Esposito and Ubriaco led the Penguins to their first playoff appearance last season since 1981-82, and their postseason success contributed to Tony`s brother, Phil, being fired after last season by the New York Rangers.

Phil dumped his coach, Michel Bergeron, shortly before the playoffs and took over coaching duties in addition to his general manager`s job. When the Penguins swept the Rangers in four games, Phil was fired.


Penguins welcome Patrick, deny they had Esposito, Ubriaco fired

Penguins welcome Patrick, deny they had Esposito, Ubriaco fired

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins players hailed the appointment of Craig Patrick as general manager and coach, but they denied they were instrumental in having Patrick's predecessors fired.

The Penguins fired General Manager Tony Esposito and Coach Gene Ubriaco Tuesday and replaced them with Patrick, a former general manager of the New York Rangers. Esposito and Ubriaco were in their second year with the Penguins, who entered Wednesday night's game against Washington with the worst record in the NHL with a 6-18-2 mark.

Center and team captain Mario Lemieux, the NHL's two-time defending scoring champion, denied he played a role in Ubriaco's firing.

'I never talked to Mr. DeBartolo (team owner Edward J. DeBartolo) since I signed my contract,' said Lemieux, who signed a reported $12-million, five-year contract in August. 'I never talked to anybody to make this happen. It was Mr. DeBartolo's decision only.'

Lemieux was enthusiastic about Patrick taking over the team.

'I think he's got a lot of respect from everybody around the league, and I'm sure he is going to have a lot of respect in this room,' said Lemieux. 'From what you hear from players who have been with him, I think it was a good change, a good choice.

'The attitude's going to change.'

Craig Patrick Takes Over an Ailing Penguins Team

Lemieux would not comment on his relationship with Esposito, who was removed by DeBartolo as the negotiator when Lemieux's contract talks stalled last summer.

Defenseman Paul Coffey said the Penguins play had been affected by constant rumors of Ubriaco's imminent firing.

'If you're a player and say it didn't affect you, you'd be a little bit of a liar,' said Coffey. 'Uncertainty definitely affects a team.

'There were players here who weren't happy with certain things. There were times on the ice where some guys didn't know where to go. Whether that was Gene's fault or our fault, it doesn't really matter at this point.'

The Penguins were preseason favorites to capture the Patrick Division.

Left winger Kevin Stevens said, 'It's tough to see anybody lose his job, but I don't think anybody on this team' undercut Ubriaco.

Players complained about Ubriaco's constant line shuffling and no apparent defensive system, but with Patrick's appointment they seemingly will have no one else to blame for their slow start.

'I think there's a lot more pressure now,' said right winger Rob Brown. 'Now we have to go out and win hockey games.

'We hope to be a better team. Right now, we're a fifth-place team. We hope to be a first-place team. If it takes the firing of Ubriaco to get there, we'll be a better team.'

'At least we don't have any excuses not to win hockey games,' said defenseman Phil Bourque.

Nordiques and Red Wings Swing a 3-Player Deal

Two last place teams swung a 3 player trade on Monday night, as the Red Wings send NHL Veteran Tony McKegney to the Nordiques for defenseman Robert Picard and Greg Adams. McKegney was a key piece in the huge trade that general manager Jim Devellano made with the Blues, sending Paul MacLean and Adam Oates for McKegney and 33 year old Bernie Federko. Many Detroit fans fear that this trade will be looked at as one of the worst in league history. McKegney did have a 40 goal season in 1987-88, but is struggling thusfar this season, netting only 2 goals and 1 assist in 14 games played. In return, they get Robert Picard, who has played 24 games, has 3 assists, and is a -15 from the blue line, with 4 hits and 4 takeaways. Picard has been around the block, having played for Philadelphia, Hartford, Washington, Edmonton, Vancouver, Quebec, and now Detroit. Detroit is the 5th team Picard will wear the sweater for in 2 years-time. The Red Wings also get Adams, who has a goal and an assist in 7 games. Picard is 32 years old, Adams is 29.

Transaction – December 4- To Quebec: Tony McKegney

To Detroit: Greg C. Adams and Robert Picard



Transaction – December 5- Gene Ubriaco and Tony Esposito fired from Pittsburgh. Replaced by Craig Patrick


December 8th

Drew Doughty born



Team Spotlight: The NHL Leading Hartford Whalers



NHL Standings

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Calgary Flames still enjoy the most comfortable lead, 11 points over the second place Kings. That is in large part due to their 7-1-2 domination of the challengers in the Smythe Division and an NHL-most 128 goals for. The Islanders have the second largest lead at 7 points over the congestion within the Patrick Division. New York followed up their 6-game winning streak with earning 3 of 6 possible points this week with a 1-1-1 record. The rest of the Division did not have a good week, going a combined 4-7-0, including the tumult in Pittsburgh, and the Flyers blowing games against the Capitals and Nordiques. The Patrick Division remains the most competitive in the NHL, seeing 3 points separating 2nd from 5th place. The Capitals, Devils, Flyers, and Rangers will likely battle go down to the wire for the final playoff spot, and we will see if the Islanders fall back to earth and/or Craig Patrick breathes life into a talented Penguins team.

The best record in the NHL remains the upstart Hartford Whalers, featured in this issue of The Hockey News. Their success has been puzzling hockey pundits. They are at a -1 shot differential per game, but have an NHL-high shooting percentage of 13.6%. They also own the league’s best powerplay, converting a staggering 32.71% of its chances. That, combined with arguable the season’s best goaltender in Mike Liut, has created their 21-6-4 record. They are a solid 27 points ahead of the Quebec Nordiques who are in last place. The gaudy record of the Whalers masks the incredible play put on by Division rivals Montreal and Boston, who are 3rd and 4th in the NHL in points respectively. The Habs and Bruins play forces Hartford to remain sharp, as there is no room for error.

The Norris Division, like the Patrick, is extremely close. Preseason favorite, Chicago, has finally taken hold of first place this week, but are 1 point from dropping all the way to third, as Toronto and St. Louis are breathing down their necks. St. Louis has 2 games in hand on the Leafs and Blackhawks, but are 1-7-1 in their last 9 contests. The Blues do enjoy a 10-2-0 Norris Division record. Meanwhile, the North Stars and Red Wings are duking it out for the last playoff position. Detroit took 3 of 4 points in a hotly contested home and home series this weekend to pull within a point of 4th place.




Now on to the NHL’s league leaders through the tenth week of action.

Steve Yzerman cruises to back to the top in goals






Sundstrom of the Devils still holds the assists and points lead, but his lead is getting tighter










A disasterous week for Doug Lidster, who was a -6 on the week (but the Canucks went 2-1-0)





Doug Wilson continues to establish himself as the Norris Trophy favorite







Dale Hawerchuk takes over the NHL lead for PPG as Brian Bellows slumps



















Game of the Week:

Fight Night at Joe Louis

Both the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars have struggled at various points this season, but both clubs know they employ some dangerous weapons that can carry them through the Norris Division pack. The teams were separated by just 3 points for fourth place when they met up for a classic Friday/Saturday home and home series. Friday night’s round was played in Joe Louis Arena in front of 19,365 fans.

The first period did not see any goals, but did see a spirited fight between Gerard Gallant and Bob Brooke. Brooke was fighting up a class and was bloodied from the bout, drawing ire from the North Stars bench. Less than 3 minutes later, Daniel Shank went after Perry Berezan in another mismatch. Shank took the extra 2 minutes but Minnesota could not take advantage. Later in the period, Red Wing goalie Glen Hanlon took a slashing penalty in a scrum in front of the Detroit net.

The second period saw an escalation in the rough play. Joey Kocur took on Basil McRae in a heavyweight battle 1 minute into the period. Feeding off the crowd, Steve Yzerman and Gallant scored less than a minute apart to put Detroit up 2-0. Then it was Shane Churla and Torrie Robertson’s turn to fight. This time, Churla got the extra minor for instigating. It seemed every whistle there were altercations that would require the referee and linesmen to break up. Doug Houda and Mark Tinordi took coincidental roughing penalties halfway through the period.

Brian Bellows netted his 19th goal to put Minnesota on the board and cut the lead in half, but Steve Chiasson scored his 3rd from Chabot and Fedyk just 2 minutes later to make the score 3-1 and send the Red Wings to the locker room up by 2.

Both teams were looking to send a message in the 3rd period, both with their fists and on the scoreboard. Bob Brooke scored on a breakaway, beating Hanlon to again cut the lead to one Neal Broten later stole the puck from Jon Chabot and shot a puck from the top of the circle that found the twine to tie the game at 3. Minnesota dominated the period, holding a 16-5 edge in shots, and had a 41-17 shot advantage for the game. Shawn Burr and Dave Gagner had an altercation, and Houda/Tinordi had another gathering. Neither team could pull ahead, and the game went to overtime. Detroit blueliner Rick Zombo took a penalty in overtime, but the Minnesota powerplay could not convert. In fact, they were 0-8 on the night. This game was fit to be tied. “It was a hard fought game, nobody wanted to give an inch out there” said Red Wings star Steve Yzerman. “There are going to be a lot of sore hockey players tomorrow morning, but we have to get right back out there for another big divisional game.” North Stars enforcer Basil McRae was a little more surly: “They went out there and targeted Bob (Brooke) and Perry (Berezan). We can’t stand for that as a team and I thought we had each other’s backs. We have plenty of guys who can fight if that is the game they want to play.”

The follow-up match in Minnesota was a tight game, without the fireworks (76 less penalty minutes to be exact). Gallant and Kocur made a nice 2 on 1 passing play for the game winning goal in the third, the Red Wings won 2-1 to pull within 1 point of Minnesota. This round goes to the Red Wings. G304 MIN@DET 01

G304 MIN@DET 02

G304 MIN@DET 03

The officials lost control of the game







Fight of the week:

Within the above game of the week, a heavyweight battle took place between Joey Kocur and Basil McRae. Both fighters connected on some thunderous punches. McRae got the upper hand at first as he got Kocur’s helmet off early, but Kocur took over late, eventual taking McRae down to the ice to the delight of the Detroit fans. Kocur got the initial penalty for charging and also received a 10 minute misconduct.

Friday Night Fights in Joe Louis Arena








3 Stars of the Week:

  1. Cam Neely - Boston
  2. Steve Yzerman - Detroit
  3. Jeremy Roenicke - Chicago


Cam Neely in four games this week had 7 goals and 2 assists for 9 point and was a +4.  Jeremy Roenicke claims second star for the week with a 3 goal and 4 assist effort… coming in only two games. Steve Yzerman rounds out the 3 stars for the week as he got back on track and scored 5 goals and 2 assists over four games, and was also a +4, despite playing in a hard fought, low scoring home and home vs. Minnesota. Boston, Chicago, and Detroit went a combined 6-2-2 for the week.























This Week In the News


December 3rd, 1989

Gorbachev and Bush declare Cold War over at Malta summit

Almost 50 years of political and ideological tension came to an end when the US and Soviet leaders met on the Mediterranean island to call an end to the Cold War.


On December 3, 1989, the Cold War – which had held the Western bloc of the USA and its NATO allies in confrontation with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries since 1945 – was declared to be over.


President Bush of the USA and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev had convened the day before on the Russian cruise ship Maxim Gorky, in Marsaxlokk Bay harbour on the coast of Malta –only their second face-to-face meeting.


At a joint news conference on December 3, after eight hours of talks, the two superpower leaders confirmed the new détente, promising “a lasting peace” and “enduring co-operation”.


Gorbachev and Bush at the Malta summit


President Bush was also quick to praise – and offer support to – his counterpart’s policies of glasnost and perestroika which were helping to lift the ‘Iron Curtain’ around Eastern Europe.


Their summit took place against a backdrop of tumultuous change in that region. Within the previous few weeks communist governments had been dissolved in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and the Berlin Wall had fallen.



“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel surges to #1 on the Hot 100 Music Chart

We Didn't Start the Fire


December 8th, 1989

“The War of the Roses” and “She Devil” (starring Rosanne Barr) were