Chicago’s Bill Mosienko famously holds the record for the fastest hat trick in NHL history. On March 23, 1952 "Wee Willie" scored three goals in just 21 seconds against the New York Rangers. Lorne Anderson was the unfortunate goaltender. It just his third NHL game. It was also his last.
But who has the second fastest hat trick in NHL history?
On November 5th, 1954 Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens lit up Boston Bruins goaltender Terry Sawchuk for three goals in 44 seconds. All three goals came on the same power play.
Beliveau would actually score a total of four goals that night - his first of three four goal performances - but it was his single-PP hat trick that changed hockey history.
At that time a penalized player served the entire term of his infraction. Two minutes for tripping meant you spent the entire two minutes in the penalty box and your team was short handed for the entire duration, too. If a team scored with the man-advantage they would continue on the power play for the full two minutes.
But Beliveau's Canadiens team was just too good. They had Beliveau, Rocket Richard and Bert Olmstead up front with Doug Harvey and Boom Boom Geoffrion manning the points. They destroyed teams on the power play, burying teams in no time to make for some pretty lopsided and non-competitive games.
So the NHL tried disabling that vaunted power play by releasing a player from a minor penalty should the other team score on the man advantage. The new rule went into effect the following season, and was passed by the teams by a vote of 5-1.
Of course, Montreal was the only team to oppose the motion, and with some merit. In his book The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory, author D'Arcy Jenish quotes Habs general manager at the time Frank Selke saying . . .
“You might outvote me on that one. But you’ll never convince me of its justice.In all the years of Detroit’s dominance and their almighty power play, there was no suggestion of such a change. Now Canadiens have finally built one and you want to introduce a rule to weaken it. Go get a power play of your own.”