On this sports day: April 9

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With the world of sports virtually stalled due to the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19), let’s look back to see what happened on April 9 in the history of sport.

1932 – The Maple Leafs win the first Stanley Cup under a new name: While it’s hard to imagine the Toronto hockey team being anything other than the Maple Leafs, the team had two names before it. After not having an official name when they won the Stanley Cup in 1918, 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 year he renamed them as the Maple Leafs to serve as a symbol of both Canadian heritage and the military, honoring the Maple Leaf Regiment (which is why they are the Maple Leafs and not the Leaves).

Despite the new name, success didn’t come immediately for the Leafs. They missed the playoffs three of their first five seasons under the new nickname and it wasn’t until the 1931-1932 season that they returned to the top of the league.

Led by Charlie Conacher and Busher Jackson, the Leafs set a franchise record with 23 regular season wins and swept the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals. To make things even sweeter, they won the deciding game 6-4 in front of their home crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens, which opened for the first time just a few months ago.

1987 – Gretzky scores seven points: That is true. Wayne Gretzky scored seven points (one goal, six assists) that day in 1987 in a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings – no less than a playoff game. It was the third time in his career that The Great One had scored seventh in the playoffs and set a playoff record until Patrik Sundstrom had eight points in a post-season game the following spring.

Gretzky entered the game with 176 career playoff points, tied with Jean Beliveau for the most NHL games. However, Gretzky’s feat was a little more impressive as he did it in exactly half the number of 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 also win the Cup the following year, before the shocking August 1988 trade sent it to the Kings.

1989 – Henderson slips his 800th: The New York Yankees were struggling at the start of the 1989 season, but it wasn’t Rickey Henderson’s fault. The electrifying outfielder hit .350 with an OPS of nearly 1,000 in the first seven games and slid his sixth base stolen of the season in a game against the Cleveland Indians to give him No. 800 for his career.

Despite a mid-season swap sending him back to Oakland Athletics, Henderson stole 77 league bases that year and comfortably holds the all-time career record with 1,406 flights – a record many believe will never be beaten.

Henderson played 25 amazing seasons in the Majors for nine different teams, ending his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is widely regarded as one of the most exciting players of game history.

1992 – The field tears Augusta apart: Augusta National is known for being one of the most difficult courses in the world, especially for its incredibly hilly terrain and fast greens. But for whatever reason, it wasn’t at its usual intimidating level for the 1992 Masters.

Through the first round of the tournament, a whopping 18 players shot in the 60s for a score of three cents or better. Jeff Sluman and Lanny Wadkins were at the top of the standings after a pair of seven under 65s, while legend Jack Nicklaus and eventual winner Fred Couples were tied at 12 for seventh place at three cents.

The couples were stable throughout the weekend, finishing two shots in front of their American compatriot Raymond Floyd to win the green jacket at 13 years old. It was the first and only victory in the major championship of the couples career.

1971 – Happy birthday Jacques Villeneuve: One of Canada’s most iconic racing figures was born that day in 1971 in a small town southeast of Montreal, but grew up mainly 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 age 18, he started racing on the Italian Formula 3 circuit and placed second on the F3 circuit in Japan in 1992. After a stint on the Formula Atlantic circuit, Villeneuve received 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 the Williams F1 team in 1996 and became the first Canadian to win the racing championship a year later. His race to the top only lasted a few years, but few accomplished more behind the wheel than Villeneuve.



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