VOORHEES, N.J. — Scott Gordon was hoping he could leave the Skate Zone Wednesday with very little fanfare.
The Flyers' interim head coach made it clear he wanted his 56th birthday to be just like any other day with no acknowledgement. Perhaps the emotional high of an eight-game winning streak is celebration enough for any coach.
Then again, Gordon may be relieved that someone’s not celebrating at his expense.
Twenty-nine years ago, on his 27th birthday, Gordon was a rookie goaltender trying to make a name for himself on the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques, ironically the last team to start seven different goaltenders in one season.
The beginning of his career started roughly as he allowed five goals in a home-and-home series against the Buffalo Sabres — both losses.
After Gordon was peppered for 52 shots in a 3-2 loss against his hometown team the Boston Bruins, head coach Michel Bergeron had a sneaking suspicion that Gordon just might earn his first NHL victory two nights later in his fourth career start against the Washington Capitals.
“The assistant coach made mention to Bergeron that it’s my birthday — 'Guys play pretty good on their birthday. You may want to consider it,'" Gordon recalled.
Bergeron did, and it turned out to be a complete disaster as the Capitals scored six goals in the first period, and it could have been so much worse.
“There were seven breakaways and I stopped four of them. That’s pretty good, right?” Gordon said. “Bergeron is pretty fiery and comes in the locker room during intermission and says, ‘Scotty, you OK?’ I said, 'Yeah, I’m fine,' and then he says, ‘These f---ing guys are going to play for f---ing you tonight.’”
Well, that clearly didn’t happen and Gordon endured the punishment.
The Capitals proceeded to score six more over the final two periods with Dino Ciccarelli netting a hat trick plus one. The “visual images” of that 12-goal game at the old Cap Center in Landover, Maryland, are still ingrained in Gordon’s memory.
“That was like the first rink I ever played in that had the replays [on the scoreboard],” Gordon said. “So not only did I let in 12 goals, but I had to watch it a total of 36 times.”
It wasn’t until a week later that Gordon earned that elusive first career win against the Vancouver Canucks, but to this day, Gordon’s dreadful dozen are the most goals any goalie has allowed over the past 30 years.
To this day, the Flyers' coach can smile about it and laugh it off, as he brought a ton of birthday cheer to an arena scattered with Capitals fans.
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