Lafreniere on what he can bring to a team; Byfield talks Malkin comparisons
As the sports world remains at a virtual standstill due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, let’s take a look back to see what happened on April 9 in sports history.
1932 – Maple Leafs win first Stanley Cup under new name: While it’s hard to imagine Toronto’s hockey team being called anything but the Maple Leafs, the team had two names that preceded it. After not having an official name when they won the 1918 Stanley Cup, they were the Arenas from 1918 to 1919 and the St. Patricks – or the St. Pats for short – from 1919 to 1927. When Conn Smythe took over the team later that year, he rebranded them as the Maple Leafs to serve as a symbol of both Canadian heritage and the military, honouring the Maple Leaf Regiment (which is why they're the Maple Leafs and not the Leaves).
Despite the new name, success didn’t come right away for the Leafs. They missed the playoffs three of their first five seasons under the new moniker and it wasn’t until the 1931-32 season that they returned to the league’s summit.
Led by Charlie Conacher and Busher Jackson, the Leafs set a franchise record with 23 regular season wins and swept the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals. To make things that much sweeter, they won the deciding game 6-4 in front of their home crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens, which had opened its doors for the first time only a few months prior.
1987 – Gretzky puts up seven points: That’s right. Wayne Gretzky put up seven points (one goal, six assists) on this day in 1987 in a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings – in a playoff game no less. It was the third time in his career The Great One put up a seven spot in a playoff game and stood as a single-game playoff record until Patrik Sundstrom had eight points in a postseason game the following spring.
Gretzky came into that game with 176 career playoff points, tied with Jean Beliveau for the most in NHL playoff history. However, Gretzky’s feat was a little more impressive as he did it in exactly half as many games (81-162).
Gretzky and the Oilers didn’t stop there, winning the Stanley Cup Final in seven games against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers would win the Cup the following year, too, before the shocking trade in August of 1988 sending him to the Kings.
1989 – Henderson swipes his 800th: The New York Yankees were struggling in the early part of the 1989 season, but it was no fault of Rickey Henderson’s. The electrifying outfielder hit .350 with an OPS of nearly 1.000 through the first seven games and swiped his sixth stolen base of the season in a game against the Cleveland Indians to give him No. 800 for his career.
Despite a mid-season trade sending him back to the Oakland Athletics, Henderson stole a league-high 77 bases that year and comfortably owns the career all-time steals record at 1,406 – a record many believe will never be broken.
Henderson went on to play an astonishing 25 seasons in the Majors for nine different teams, finishing his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is widely considered one of the most exciting players in the game’s history.
1992 – The field tears up Augusta: Augusta National is known for being one of the most difficult courses in the world, particularly for its impossibly hilly terrain and fast greens. But for whatever reason, it wasn’t at its usual daunting self for the 1992 Masters.
Through the first round of the tournament, a whopping 18 players shot in the 60s for a score of three-under or better. Jeff Sluman and Lanny Wadkins stood atop the leaderboard after a pair of seven-under 65s, while legend Jack Nicklaus and eventual winner Fred Couples sat in a 12-way tie for seventh place at three-under.
Couples was steady throughout the weekend, finishing two shots ahead of fellow American Raymond Floyd to win the Green Jacket at 13-under. It was the first and only Major championship victory of Couples’ career.
1971 – Happy birthday Jacques Villeneuve: One of Canada’s most iconic racing figures was born on this day in 1971 in a small city southeast of Montreal, but grew up mostly in Monaco since his father, Gilles, was also a Formula 1 driver. When he was 11, Villeneuve’s father was killed in an accident during a qualifying session for a race.
But that didn’t stop Jacques from getting behind the wheel himself.
At 18, he began racing in Italy’s Formula 3 circuit and placed second in Japan’s F3 circuit in 1992. After a move to the Formula Atlantic circuit, Villeneuve was given a shot in IndyCar in 1994. He finished second in the famous Indianapolis 500 that year and won the race the following season in 1995.
Villeneuve then made the jump to F1’s Williams team in 1996 and became the first Canadian to win the racing championship one year later. His run at the top only lasted a couple years, but few have accomplished more behind the wheel than Villeneuve.