Friday, March 23, 2012

Looking Back: March 23, 1952

While browsing through the National Hockey League Official Guide and Record Book, several records leap-out and hit you between the eyes. You know they are there, but the impact is always the same when you read it in black and white. With the passage of time, they tend to be lost and moved to the back of the memory bank. Also, the same question comes to mind after digesting the enormous achievement established by a player or coach - will anyone else come along and break this record?

I have always marveled at two such records, one set by a goalie and the other set by a coach.

Chicago goalie Glenn Hall's 502 consecutive complete games is a mark which has stood since early in the 1962-63 campaign. It began in the 1955-56 season. What makes this record amazing is the time frame in which it occurred. In an era where goalies were the least protected players on the ice, the fact Hall performed in 502 straight games is incredible. With no mask to shield his face and a chest protector thin as a wafer, Hall gritted out any nagging injuries and returned to his cage game after game.

On the coaching side, Scotty Bowman's nine Stanley Cup wins is a standard that will be very difficult for others in the profession to match, forget about beating. Today's game, thanks to the salary cap, provides a measure of equality, thus eliminating one team from becoming a dynasty. With no one coach riding a wave of success from one year to the next, turnover happens on a regular basis. Even a team with a winning record has shuffled their coach out the door, believing a change behind the bench will result in advancing further in the playoffs next time around. All this makes it rather difficult to imagine another coach surpassing Bowman's record.

Bill Mosienko

On this date back in 1952, another record was set for the ages. On March 23, Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Black Hawks scored the fastest three goals in NHL history, as detailed in the massive NHL record book - "Fastest Three Goals: 0:21 - Bill Mosienko, Chicago, Mar. 23, 1952, at New York Rangers, against goaltender Lorne Anderson. Mosienko scored at 6:09, 6:20 and 6:30 of the third period, all with both teams at full strength, Chicago 7, NY Rangers 6."

The longevity of Mosienko's record is an indicator of how hard it has been for a skater to equal or come in below 21-seconds. When one considers the number of great offensive players who have come and gone since Mosienko's masterpiece, one can truly appreciate this feat. Bobby Hull couldn't do it. Wayne and Mario failed to nudge him from the record book. There is still hope for Sid "The Kid" and a number of other scoring sensations. However, it is mind-boggling to think of the circumstances that would be necessary for a player to be put in the right situation to beat the record. All the stars would have to be aligned, not to mention a complete defensive meltdown and a goalie who lost both his contact lenses!

In an April 1952 interview, Mosienko described his three goal effort.

"The first of the three was the climax of a planned play. Gus (Bodnar...) passed to me, I beat the New York defenceman and rapped it in. On the next faceoff, Gus got the puck, I wheeled, broke for the blueline, took the pass and shot. Then on the third, the faceoff went to George Gee on left wing, he went over the blueline, I made a move and he laid a perfect pass on my stick," commented the Chicago forward.

Mosienko mentioned the "perfect pass." Today, that would translate to the "perfect storm."

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