Great Game Previews in History: 8 February 2014

by J.R.

Today in History

_65729396_shergar_getty304In 1983, Irish racehorse Shergar disappears — much as the NHL season will briefly disappear today — seized not by the patriotic fervor the Olympic endears, but by armed gunmen who almost certainly (though not definitely) were members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army attempting to extort the horse’s ownership syndicate — including various Astors and the Aga Khan IV — for money to purchase arms.

Shergar was, perhaps, the most famous racehorse in the world in 1983, having won the Irish Derby and King George in 1981, retiring with a record of 6-1 and remaining in Ireland to stand stud, an unexpected move. But then he was stolen and never seen again.

Jets at Blues, 1 PM

It’s for The Conference III Championship Belt. Check the Tale of the Tape.

Avalanche at Islanders, 6 PM

Records: Avalanche (36-16-5, 77 points, 3rd in Conference III); Islanders (22-29-8, 52 points, 8th in SUDM)

Last Time They Met: Michael Grabner got the winner in a 2-1 OT win for the Isles on January 10.

Last 10: Colorado 6-4-0; New York 3-6-1

Historical Context: Shergar’s kidnappers stormed into the stud farm with an unabashed vengeance, forcing the groom to help them load the animal on to horse trailer, which isn’t to say there was no forethought to the crime. The kidnappers were smart enough to schedule their caper during the weekend of the biggest horse sale in Ireland, when thousands of horse trailers were crisscrossing the island. Meanwhile, the investigation was hapless — the police were not notified for nearly eight hours after the crime, with two Irish Cabinet ministers informed before the cops. The Avs are bold, but calculating. The Islanders are hapless.

Ducks at Predators, 7 PM

Records: Ducks (40-14-5, 85 points, 1st in Pacific); Predators (25-23-10, 60 points, 7th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: The Preds jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the game, but the Ducks fought back to a 4-3 win.

Last 10: Anaheim 4-6-0; Nashville 5-2-3

Historical Context: The negotiators selected by Shergar’s kidnappers were an unexpected bunch — three horse racing journalists. The trio were treated by rock stars by media and the Irish people. Carter Hutton has been a bit of an unexpected hero in this little run of success that’s vaulted the Preds back into the playoff picture. Will he achieve rock star status in tonight’s final game (which could well prove to be his last game as the starter with Pekka Rinne starting to take shots at practice)?

Coyotes at Stars, 7 PM

Records: Coyotes (27-20-10, 64 points, 4th in Pacific); Stars (26-21-10, 62 points, 5th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Tuesday, the Stars went into Glendale and left with a 3-1 win.

Last 10: Phoenix 5-4-1; Dallas 5-2-3

Historical Context: This is a key Western Conference game in the battle for the final playoff spot. Will a win by one or the other disappear someone’s playoff hopes, buried in the countryside with no marker like Shergar?