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Most money bid for a date with an NHL player
US$12,500: Pavel Bure, Florida, February 17, 2001
As part of the Florida Panthers' 2001 charity fundraiser, scoring star Pavel Bure agreed to be auctioned off as a dinner date to the highest bidder. When the bidding stalled at US$6,500, Bure's date at the event, Russian tennis babe Anna Kournikova, hopped up on stage in a slinky, strapless dress that was slit to the thigh and offered to include herself in the deal. Within a few moments the price of dinner had rocketed to US$12,500.
Only goalie to miss a game because of an injury suffered in a previous life
Gilles Gratton, 1975-76 to 1976-77
A decidedly strange piece of work, Gratton, who believed in reincarnation, claimed his job of facing flying pucks was divine punishment for having stoned people to death during the Spanish Inquisition. Gratton's dedication didn't match his talent. He refused to play one night because the moon was in the wrong place in the sky. Another time, Gratton missed a start because he was feeling the effects of a sword wound that he had suffered 500 years earlier. "Grattoony the Loony" gave up hockey for good after three years in the WHA and two in the NHL.
Lowest draft pick to score 500 career goals
Luc Robitaille, 171st, Los Angeles, 1984
The Kings got lucky in the 1984 draft Lucky Luc Robitaille to be precise. The Montreal-born forward had piled up 191 points in his last season of junior with the Hull Olympiques, but NHL teams blithely ignored him. At the urging of scout Alex Smart, the Kings eventually selected Robitaille in the ninth round, 171st overall, but only after squandering five straight picks on players who failed to play a single NHL game (though one of them, Tom Glavine, did have a great career as a major-league pitcher). Robitaille began his 18th season in 2003-04 with more goals than any left-winger in NHL history.
First team to hold a bobble-head doll night for a player on a rival team
Pittsburgh Penguins, March 6, 2003
Despite the fact that Pittsburgh had traded star forward Alexei Kovalev to the New York Rangers a month before, the club decided to hand out 16,000 Kovalev bobble-head dolls at its March 6 game against Carolina. According to news reports, Penguins management did not want to disappoint its fans. How about not trading Kovalev in the first place? The game was a sell-out, but the Pens lost 4-0.
Most people to view a Hall of Famer’s casket
115,000: Maurice Richard, May 30, 2000
Unlike the modest life Richard tried to live as the reluctant hero of an adoring public, in death, his funeral mass at Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica turned into an extravaganza that drew a Who’s Who of Canadian society and hockey. The 90-minute service was attended by 800 invited guests, including prime ministers, hockey legends and other dignitaries. More than 2,200 fans filled the second- and third-floor balconies, some wearing Montreal Canadiens sweaters, while thousands watched from outside and hundreds of thousands more on national television. The day before the mass, an estimated 115,000 mourners silently filed by Richard’s open casket, which was placed between the blue line and the goal at Montreal’s Molson Centre.
First goalie to attempt selling advertising space on his pads
Grant Fuhr, Edmonton, 1989
During a bitter contract wrangle with Oilers GM Glen Sather in the summer of 1989, Fuhr's agent Rich Winter announced that his client would retire if the NHL and the Oilers did not agree to a special waiver of the league's rules on licensing rights. Why? Winter had cut a five-year deal with Pepsi-Cola that called for Fuhr to wear the Pepsi logo on his goalie pads. The impasse was finally resolved in a meeting between Sather and Fuhr at which the goalie agreed to report to Edmonton's training camp. Winter continued to argue that the NHL had no right to ban Fuhr's Pepsi pads, but Fuhr soon lost interest in the issue. He lost interest in Winter too, whom he later fired.
First unofficially retired number that was later unretired
Wayne Maki, No. 11 Vancouver, 1997
Maki played three seasons with the Canucks in the early 1970s. His No. 11 was retired by the Canucks after he suddenly developed brain cancer and died in 1974. His number lay in state until July 1997, when the Canucks’ new management group, Orca Bay Entertainment, signed free agent Mark Messier hockey's most famous No. 11. The Moose requested and received No. 11 and wore it at his first Vancouver press conference. No one from the team thought to call Maki's widow and give her the news. When the she protested, the Canucks claimed that Maki's No. 11 had never actually been retired. Instead, it was supposedly an "honoured number" which meant that it was a perfect fit for a US$20-million free agent from New York.