Today in Boston Bruins History: August 27
Boston Bruins history for August 27:
1962: Adam Oates is born in Weston, Ontario. His path to the NHL was an unusual one: he dropped out of school to focus on hockey, went undrafted, but went back and finished high school when he was recruited to play college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He led the team in assists for all three of his years, improved his speed (the reason he went undrafted), set and broke his own school records and won the conference championship twice. Now, NHL teams were expressing interest, and he started off playing in Detroit before a trade to St. Louis that is now considered one of the Red Wings’ worst ever. With the Blues, though, he did play with Brett Hull in a pairing that was referred to as Hull and Oates. However, his time with St. Louis ended in 1992 when he saw the huge deals his teammates, like Brendan Shanahan, were getting and felt underpaid. He threatened to leave the team after the All-Star Game (which he played in) if there wasn’t a renegotiation, which was quite unpopular with fans, but then he was traded to Boston. His first full year in Boston served as his best individual season: 45 goals, 97 assists, 142 points, 11 game-winning goals. Those 97 helpers led the league, he put together four assists in one period of the All-Star Game for a record, and in the five years 1989-1994, he was the second highest point producer in the entire league. Just like in St. Louis, though, when he got a new contract and the Bruins began to falter, he got disgruntled and even publicly called out team management. Not even a fortnight after that, he was traded to Washington, but it wasn’t a smooth trade at first–there was more bickering about dollar amounts. It was resolved, though, and he joined the team. He even became the captain in 1999, replacing Dale Hunter. He also played with Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton before his 2004 retirement, by which time he’d played 1,000 games and registered 1,000 assists. After playing, he went into coaching as an assistant coach for Tampa Bay and New Jersey, and then in June 2012 history repeated itself: Hunter left the post of head coach for the Capitals and was replaced by Oates, newly elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
1974: Aaron Downey is born in Shelburne, Ontario. Downey was undrafted at both the major junior and NHL levels, so he worked his way up to the big time by going through the ECHL and AHL. That included two years with the Providence Bruins before getting his first big shot at the big time in 1999-2000 with Boston. It didn’t amount to much–one pointless game–but that year, he also played 47 games in Providence. Other teams in the NHL brought him onto their rosters because of his reputation as an enforcer. While with the Dallas Stars in 2003, he got in a fight and knocked the other guy down with just one punch, earning a nickname of “Aaron One Punch and he’s Down-ey.” He gained more fame in 2006 for a fight in which there was never any actual contact, just posturing for 40 seconds before the linesmen intervened. During his career, he even won a Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings, meeting the regular-season game requirement for Cup inscription. After that victory, though, his playing career wound down, but he’s back with Detroit now as a strength and conditioning coach.
1974: Manny Fernandez (full name Emanuel Fernandez) is born in Etobicoke, Ontario. Drafted by Quebec in 1992, he had yet to set foot on NHL ice before he was traded to Dallas in 1994, but he did get his big-time start minding the net in Texas and stayed there until a June 2000 trade sent him to Minnesota. He went pretty deep into the postseason in 2003 and learned how to serve as a team’s primary goalie, experience that served him well upon his 2007 trade to Boston. In his first season as a Bruin, though, he struggled with injuries and played just four games. (He and Patrice Bergeron, who had suffered a season-ending concussion, were known to take the road to recovery together during this time.) But he was much better for the 2008-09 season and it showed: his 16-8-3 record with a .910 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average, combined with Tim Thomas‘ statistics, earned the tandem the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals all season. After that season, though, he faded out of the spotlight as Boston decided to go with Tuukka Rask as backup. He hasn’t formally announced it, but he has retired from active play.
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