1978: Seventeen-year-old hockey prodigy Wayne Gretzky signs a $1.75 million, seven-year personal services contract with Racers owner Nelson Skalbania. He plans to play the 1978-79 season with the Racers, and enrolls in night classes at Broad Ripple High School. Gretzky would play just eight games with the Racers before being sold to Edmonton, where he broke nearly every NHL record.
Happy birthday to
Hec Kilrea: Right wing who played the final four years of his hockey career with the Capitals from 1939-43. In those four years, he played 198 games, scored 33 goals and assisted on 50. He was a part of a division champion in 1940 and a Calder Cup champion in 1942. He joined the Capitals after a long NHL career that began in 1925 and carried through 1940. He played for the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, scoring 167 goals and assisting on 129 in 633 NHL games. The “Hurricane” was known as an outstanding checker. He was one of a pair of brothers to play for the Caps — joining Ken. He won the Stanley Cup with Ottawa in 1927 and with Detroit in 1936 and 1937. Upon retirement from hockey in 1943, he became a U.S. citizen and served in the U.S. Army in World War II, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, a Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre. Hec was born in Blackburn, Ont. in 1907, and passed away in 1969.
Lorne Molleken: Goaltender who saw spot duty with the Checkers in 1981-82 and again in 1983-84. He played four games in relief of the Rob Holland/Kelly Hrudey tandem in the first year, and played xi games — as well as one playoff game — for the team in 1983-84. He matriculated to the Islanders’ top farm team — which relocated to Springfield and the AHL in 1984 — in his final pro season of 1984-85, playing 34 games in Springfield. Molleken has been in coaching for much of his post-playing career, including several years with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in two stints. He coached the Chicago Blackhawks for 47 games over two seasons in 1999-2000, going 18-21-8. He has also been an assistant coach in San Jose and Pittsburgh. A native of Regina, Sask., he is 61.
Kip Miller: A member of one of hockey’s notable families, Miller played two seasons for the Ice from 1995-97. In 110 games, he had 49 goals and 83 assists, as well as 12 points in nine playoff games. That included a 32-goal, 91-point season in 1995-96. Miller played 449 NHL games during his career, that saw him be drafted in the fourth round by Quebec in 1987 and play for the Nordiques, North Stars, Sharks, Islanders, Blackhawks, Penguins, Ducks and Capitals through 2004. He had several minor pro seasons interspersed in there as well, and was a prolific scorer at the IHL/AHL level, with five 30-goal seasons. He finished his career with a 25-goal, 72-point season with AHL Grand Rapids in 2006-07. He is a cousin of NHL goaltender Ryan Miller and defenseman Drew Miller. His brother Kevin also played for the Ice, and older brother Kelly had a long NHL career. A native of Lansing, Mich., he is 48.
Bryan Fogarty: Ice defenseman in the 1998-99 season, where he had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games. Fogarty was the ninth overall pick in the 1987 NHL Draft, but spent much of his 12-year pro career in the minors. He played 156 NHL games with Quebec, Montreal and Pittsburgh from 1989-95, with 22 goals and 52 assists. He also played in the IHL, ECHL, UHL, CHL and in Europe during his career. He was born in Montreal in 1969, and passed away in 2002, a year after retiring from hockey.