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Things I wish Pensburgh was around for: The Ron Hoggarth game

In this game three of the NHL’s best players were all ejected at the exact same time.

Perhaps the most infamous game of the Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr era.

If you are a fan of chaos, this is the game for you.

It was January 26, 1992, and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins were in Washington for a game against the Capitals. It ended with three of the best players in the league all being ejected, one of them being suspended for 10 games, and a legend of the game uttering one of his most famous quotes.

Late in the third period Washington’s Kelly Miller scored to give the Capitals a 6-4 lead following some classically incompetent early 1990s NHL officiating where there were simply no rules.

Watch Jagr get hauled down and knocked into the boards. Watch the way Lemieux gets blatantly tripped to set up the odd-man rush for Washington. Watch referee Ron Hoggarth ignore all of it.

What followed was an altercation between Lemieux, Jagr, Kevin Stevens and Hoggarth that resulted in all three superstars being ejected from the game. Look at this penalty sequence from the box score.

Jagr was ejected for “skating” into Hoggarth, but there is no actual video anywhere that I can find of that particular part of the incident.

It resulted in Jagr being suspended for 10 games by the league, a stretch that saw the team go just 2-6-2 without him.

This game, and especially this sequence, is also the one that resulted in Lemieux calling the NHL a “garage league” and saying that people like Hoggarth were the reason the league could not get a major TV deal.

Try to imagine this game happening today during the Twitter/sports blog era and the chaos it would have produced.

Not only the state of the officiating itself, but the fact that three of the league’s top players would all get ejected AT THE SAME TIME. Lemieux and Stevens literally finished the regular season as the top-two scorers in the league, while everyone knew that Jagr was an emerging superstar. The closest comparable I can think of would be a Colorado Avalanche game today where Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar all get ejected in the final minute of a game against the St. Louis Blues. We would all lose our collective minds.

This was at the very beginning of the Penguins-Capitals rivalry. They had played in the playoffs the year before (the Penguins won in five games) and would meet again in the ensuing postseason with the Penguins erasing a 3-1 series deficit to send them on their second straight Stanley Cup run.

Hoggarth’s officiating career ended in 1994 after nearly 1,200 games.

It is never a good sign for an official when you have an individual game named after you.