SIX STEPS TO THE BEGINNING

It doesn’t take much time to track back to the beginning of the game. The NHL’s first official season was 1917-18 and I can get you there in 6 steps.

Ryan Smyth is a key item in this chain-link to 1917-18 and is more important for the future. Since he’ll be a teammate to all of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz it’ll be the 2030′s before we need another link in the chain.

Here we go:

  1. Frank Nighbor was an original member of the NHL with the Ottawa Senators. His HOF career in the big league lasted from 1917-1930, all but his final 22 games with the Sens. He won 3 Stanley’s with the Senators.
  2. In 29-30, Syd Howe was a rookie on the Senators, he was a teammate of Nighbor. The heart of his HOF career was played in Detroit (where he would earn 3 Stanley’s) and he played through world war Two, 1946.
  3. Ted Lindsay was a rookie on the Red Wings during the war–it was Syd Howe’s team before it was Gordie’s–and Lindsay was possibly the finest LW in the history of the game (the old timers will tell you that). He was on 4 Stanley Cup teams, played some with Chicago but started and ended with the Red Wings.
  4. Bobby Hull was a Chicago rookie on the 1957 team that included Lindsay, and Hull was the best LW of all-time if it isn’t Lindsay. Hull was a monster, an absolute giant–I don’t think his reputation has aged well but the guy was the stuff of legend. Anyway, Hull played in Chicago and then put the WHA on the map from Winnipeg (that’s maybe a good way of showing just what a calling card he was) and in his two final WHA seasons (77-79) he played with some terrific kids.
  5. Kent Nilsson was one of those kids, and he was a magician. Oiler fans might remember him best as a Flame or for his brief time as an Oiler, but his first two WHA seasons with the Jets were incredible. Nilsson was on the 1987 Oilers Stanley winner, and he was also on the 94-95 Oilers.
  6. Ryan Smyth got a cup of coffee on that team, and he’d have a Stanley if the crazy sonofabitch didn’t get himself traded here. How any Oiler fan can criticize that guy is beyond me–Jesus, he could have a Stanley!

Anyway, 6 players take us right to the beginning of the league. You can do it with fewer–hell put Gordie Howe in and you can do it in three–but I thought this was a fun route. I do this every once in awhile for fun, might be a cool lockout game.

It kind of serves as a reminder about the game’s labor history too–Detroit traded Lindsay’s ass after he and a few others stood up to the owners right before they were demolished.

Bill James taught me this game in one of his abstracts. I think he designed it for rain delays–which is kind of like a lockout.

This is Ted Lindsay. Guy got screwed over by NHL owners before any of us were born. If the current players are looking for someone to revere, they could do a lot worse than this guy and that’s for sure.

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20 Responses to "SIX STEPS TO THE BEGINNING"

  1. "Steve Smith" says:

    Would you believe that I had no idea about Kent Nilsson’s six games with the 94-95 team? Well, given my well-earned reputation for astonishing ignorance, you probably would. But I couldn’t. I even remember that season (mostly in the form of late night flashbacks that leave me in cold sweats), but I guess I was too young at the time have a proper appreciation of Kenta’s place in Oilers’ history. I was old enough to appreciate Petr Klima and his helmet’s second go-round, though.

    Man, you learn something new here most days. Thanks for the post, LT, even if all you’re really doing is convincing me to stay engaged past the next kick Gary Bettman delivers to my barristers and solicitor.

  2. hunter1909 says:

    He looks like a decent man, with the face of a 1920′s Chicago gangster.

  3. LMHF#1 says:

    He’d have a Stanley if he hadn’t played like a twerp in the ’06 finals…(old bitterness dies hard)

  4. Lowetide says:

    Lindsay? He was filthy. Absolutely filthy. According to everything I’ve read and heard about him anyway.

  5. godot10 says:

    The Colorado Avalanche are officially NUTS. They named Landeskog captain, while they are messing around with signing Ryan O’Reilly. To do this before O’Reilly is signed is a massive FU to Ryan O’Reilly.

    There was absolutely no need to make this decision before there is a new CBA, and before O’Reilly was signed.

    That is all.

  6. hunter1909 says:

    Playing against Gordie and Ted as opposition must have been a lot of laughs back in the 50′s.

  7. Spydyr says:

    Lowetide,

    By filthy you mean he did absolutely everything in his power to win.The Oil could use a guy or three like that.

    They are softer than butter in July

  8. loosemoose says:

    Funny how the games change with time……or the times change with the game…..

  9. russ99 says:

    Hull is still treated with extreme reverence here in Chi-town, even though he left for the WHA at the worst possible time for the franchise. That Cup losing game 7 against the Canadiens in ’71 looms large.

    Oh well, grudges come and go, and in time we learned that Hull left because both Arthur and Bill Wirtz were both skinflints rather than any issue that Hull had with the fans.

    Besides, those were my Dad’s grudges, I hated the goony Hawks and their crude fans up in the 2nd balcony at the old Stadium. To me, the Oilers in ’81-82 seemed to be what hockey was all about.

  10. DSF says:

    godot10:
    The Colorado Avalanche are officially NUTS.They named Landeskog captain, while they are messing around with signing Ryan O’Reilly.To do this before O’Reilly is signed is a massive FU to Ryan O’Reilly.

    There was absolutely no need to make this decision before there is a new CBA, and before O’Reilly was signed.

    That is all.

    Landeskog is the next one.

    That is all.

  11. hunter1909 says:

    Spydyr: By filthy you mean he did absolutely everything in his power to win.The Oil could use a guy or three like that.

    Whether you even played in the NHL was life or death matter back then. Lindsay + Howe took care of the death side of things.
    russ99,

    Bobby Hull? As in, the greatest and hands down most dominant hockey player of the 1960′s? An old timey farmboy with Ovechkin’s relative size, who could both shoot and skate like a rocket?

    Let Hull play in 1972 and it’s a 5-2-1 series.

    I like the Hawks forever, thanks to their historic great players like Mikita, White, Stapleton and Tony Esposito who outplayed Ken Dryden to a ridiculous degree in 1972.

    Then, in my memory, is that series clinching win in 1990 that at 12-5 pretty well showcased to the rest of the saps still standing the Oilers weren’t going to lose, and even the antics of Patrick Kane won’t affect that. Probably my all time fave Oiler game, post Gretzky.

  12. "Steve Smith" says:

    Spydyr:
    Lowetide,

    By filthy you mean he did absolutely everything in his power to win.The Oil could use a guy or three like that.

    They are softer than butter in July

    No kidding – I’m tired of players who won’t violate rules in such a way as to jeopardize somebody else’s health and/or career in order to win a game. What a bunch of pussies.

  13. bookje says:

    Kent Nilsson’s second stint with the Oilers was another example of a coach and GM not being on the same wavelength. Nilsson looked pretty good to me but was not given any chance of success by Ron Low. Between Low pushing Nilsson and Whitney away, I just hated that guy as a coach. He was a coach who picked favourites based upon the ‘Good old big hard working Canadian boy’ strategy – talent be damned.

  14. bookje says:

    “Steve Smith”: No kidding – I’m tired of players who won’t violate rules in such a way as to jeopardize somebody else’s health and/or career in order to win a game.What a bunch of pussies.

    Uh, hellooooo, that was before the instigator rule when hockey was about respect and nobody ever got hurt, hooked, or modestly insulted.

  15. uni says:

    bookje,

    Don’t forget Miroslav Satan.

  16. Spydyr says:

    “Steve Smith”,

    Just win baby…….If you’re not pushing the envelope on the rules you are trying hard enough.Perhaps you like 30-30-29. I don’t .

    Intimidation has never played a role in hockey…..facepalm.

  17. CrazyCoach says:

    Lowetide: Lindsay? He was filthy. Absolutely filthy. According to everything I’ve read and heard about him anyway.

    I once saw an interview with Lindsay and he said that he absolutely hated every single player he played against and made no bones about it.

    That’s intense!

  18. "Steve Smith" says:

    Spydyr,

    To the extent that you are a person, you are a bad one.

  19. Spydyr says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    Spydyr,

    To the extent that you are a person, you are a bad one.

    Since you less than nothing about me outside a few posts and the fact I like men’s hockey not women’s hockey.Your comment speaks volumes about the poster.

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