THUNDER BAY – Forty-six years ago, Darryl Sittler entered the NHL’s record books, scoring 10 points in a single night against the Boston Bruins.
Nearly five decades later, it still stands.
That comes as a bit of a surprise to Sittler, now 71, who said he thought the record wouldn’t survive the 1980s.
“I often thought Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux in their prime in the ‘80s they were getting 200 points a season and that they would be the guys to do it. But they weren’t able to. They got eight points a couple of times,” said Sittler, in between signing autographs on Wednesday at Newfie’s Pub on Simpson Street.
Gretzky put up eight points on two separate occasions, while Lemieux did it three times, including once in the 1989 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Bryan Trottier, Peter Stastny, Bernie Nicholls and most recently, Sam Gagner in 2012, are also members of the eight-point club.
Sittler, who spent nearly 12 full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, from 1970 to 1982, said the increase in scoring of late gives him hope someone in today’s game might give his record a run for the money.
“Guys like Connor McDavid – he’s getting 10 chances to score a game. So you never know. It might be broken. It’s going to be hard to break it. I’m proud to own it and it was awesome to do in a Leafs uniform.”
Sittler’s record-setting night came with rookie Dave Reece in nets for the Bruins, who was set to return to the minors with the pending return of future hall-of-famer Gerry Cheevers from the World Hockey Association.
Filling in for Gilles Gilbert, Reece was in net for all 10 Toronto goals, six off the stick of Sittler. It would prove to be his final NHL contest.
Sittler, who finished the 1975-76 campaign with an even 100 points – a first for a Maple Leafs player – left the Leafs for Philadelphia in January 1982, his relationship with the team that drafted him eighth overall in 1970 soured beyond repair.
At the time he was Toronto’s all-time leading goal-scorer and point-getter, putting up 389 goals and 916 points in a Leafs uniform.
Sittler spent three more seasons in the National Hockey League, two with the Flyers and one final campaign with the Detroit Red Wings, elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and in 2017 was named one of the game’s 100 best players of all-time.
By then Sittler and the Leafs had mended their relationship and he continues to represent the team. Like his own Leafs era, the current rendition of the team has the talent needed to make a long playoff run, but just can’t get over the hump.
The Kitchener, Ont. native can relate.
“It’s been frustrating for the fans and the people supporting the Leafs. Obviously we’ve got a very good team. You don’t get the number of points in the regular season that we got. We’re in a tough division, but Tampa Bay’s done it before,” said Sittler, who helped lead the Leafs to the semifinal in 1978, only to be swept by Montreal in four straight.
“We got up against (Tampa) and basically lost by one goal in two games. The hockey gods weren’t with us this year. Hopefully we can get back on the saddle and try it again next year and maybe it’ll be our year.”
Sittler finished his career with 484 goals and 1,121 points in 1,096 games, adding 74 points in 76 playoff appearances.