Monday, April 8, 2013

'DID YOU KNOW' - Mikko Leinonen

When you think of the records that have held through the annals of time, there are names that become instantly synonymous.

Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, Orr.  Even guys like Hull, Richard, Esposito and Coffey.  All of them in one way or another have placed their imprint squarely on the NHL record book.

But then there are the occasions where names sneak into the book (or maybe they just barge in) and then that's the last time you ever hear from them.  More so, the record is their one and only imprint on what might otherwise be a forgotten career.

31 years ago today there was just such an instance.  And it even prompted OPC to celebrate it on one of its Record Breaker cards the following season.

'DID YOU KNOW': New York Rangers rookie Mikko Leinonen set the playoff record for assists in one game with six.

Six helpers.  Not Lemieux.  Not Gretzky (at least up until that point).  Not Orr.  Not any of the other Hall of Fame players can say they had six assists in one playoff game.

A decent player from Finland, Mikko represented his country at the 1980 Olympic Games.  He came over to the NHL soon after.  During his first season, he chipped in with 31 points (11G, 20A) in 53 games.  It was in the Rangers' first round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that Leinonen set the record.

An 82/83 Record Breaker card is the lasting testament to the achievement.  And it's probably a good thing OPC decided to make it.  Only that card and his RC the following season sit as the two official NHL cards in his collection.  That would be an easy set to put together.

As important as Leinonen was to the Rangers in his rookie year, he was soon moved to Washington where he played just 3 games with the Caps.  He went back to Finland during the 84/85 season and never made it back to the NHL.  His career stats are actually pretty impressive (162GP, 31G, 78A, 109PTS).

But most impressive was the six-assist game.  Only to be matched by The Great One five years later.

Some of the names he kicked off the list?
Toe Blake
Maurice Richard
Bert Olmstead
Stan Mikita
Wayne Gretzky (at the time)

Not bad.  Not bad at all.


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