Today in Hockey History: Aug. 20

Despite there being no games ever played on Aug. 20, before 2020 that is, this has been a very busy day over the decades. There were big moves in some of the National Hockey League’s cornerstone cities like Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Toronto.

Shore Comes to the NHL

With the old Western Hockey League ceasing operations, Boston Bruins owner, Charles Adams, spent $50,000, on Aug. 20, 1926, to bring in seven players from the league. One of those players was defenseman Eddie Shore, who was a rare blueliner that joined the play in the offensive end of the ice.

Shore scored 12 goals and 18 points, in 41 games, during his first season, while also racking up 136 penalty minutes. Not only did he help the Bruins make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the original Ottawa Senators. He and the Bruins returned to the Final three more times and won championships in 1929 and 1939.

He retired in 1940 after 551 games, where he scored 105 goals and 284 points. He won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, in 1934. Shore went on to take home the Hart three more times, becoming the four-time winner in NHL history.

Rangers Finally Land Lindros

The New York Rangers thought they had a deal in place to acquire Eric Lindros from the Quebec Nordiques back in 1992. However, an independent arbitrator ruled that the Philadelphia Flyers’ offer was agreed to first and the rest was history.

On Aug. 20, 2001, the Rangers sent defensemen Kim Johnsson, forwards Jan Hlavac and Pavel Brendl and third-round choice in 2003 NHL Entry Draft to the Flyers for Lindros. The Flyers used the draft pick select forward Stefan Ruzicka, who played in just 55 NHL games.

2002 Season: Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros
Pavel Bure (left) and Lindros (right) were two big names brought in by the Rangers.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

When Lindros made his Rangers debut on Oct. 5, 2001, it was his first NHL game since March 12, 2000. He missed the entire 2000-01 season due to concussion issues, as well as a contract dispute. His first season in New York was, by far, his best as he scored 37 goals and 73 points in 72 games.

Over his three seasons with the Rangers, Lindros scored 66 goals and 158 points in 192 games. He signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs when the league returned from the owners’ lockout that cost the 2004-05 season. He spent the 2006-07 season with the Dallas Stars before retiring after 13 seasons in the NHL.

Newsworthy Date for Devils

Just a few weeks ahead of their first game after relocation, on Aug. 20, 1982, the New Jersey Devils named forward Don Lever their first-ever captain. He replaced the Colorado Rockies’ last captain, Rob Ramage, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues for a first-round draft pick during the offseason, which was used to select John MacLean. Lever scored the first goal in Devils’ history during their 3-3 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 5, 1982.

Three years later, on Aug. 20, 1985, Devils’ general manager Max McNab signed his son Peter, who became just the fourth NHL player to ever join a team where his father was the general manager.

This is a big date for the McNab family, as Max was traded during his playing days back in 1951. He was part of a package, along with Clare Martin, Jim Peters, Clare “Rags” Raglan, George Gee and Jim McFadden, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by the Detroit Red Wings, in exchange for Hugh Coflin and $75,000.

Maple Leafs Make Changes

On Aug. 20, 1973, the Maple Leafs hired Red Kelly as their new head coach. He replaced John McLellan, who resigned when the 1972-73 season concluded. Kelly, who was a Hall of Fame player for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs between 1947 and 1967, had previous coaching stings with the Los Angeles Kings and Penguins. He spent four seasons behind the bench in Toronto, going 133-123-62. The Maple Leafs missed the playoffs in his first season and failed to get out of the first round in the next three.

Kelly spent a decade as an NHL head coach.
(THW Archives)

Fast forward 22 years to Aug. 20, 1997, and the Maple Leafs named Montreal Canadiens’ goaltending legend Ken Dryden as their new team president and general manager. Part of his first order of business was naming Anders Hedberg and Mike Smith as his assistant general managers and Bill Watters as an assistant to the president. He held onto the general manager role until 1999 when head coach Pat Quinn was given the job.

Odds & Ends

The San Jose Sharks traded Jayson More, Brian Swanson and a fourth-round draft pick to the Rangers for Marty McSorley on Aug. 20, 1996. He played 113 games for the Sharks, over the next two seasons, scoring six goals and 28 while amassing 326 penalty minutes. More and Swanson never played for the Rangers and the draft pick was eventually drafted by to San Jose.

Trading Lindros wasn’t the only move the Flyers made on this date. On Aug. 20, 1997, they traded Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in exchange for four first-round draft picks. Renberg had a lot of success on the Legion of Doom line in Philadelphia, scoring 109 goals over his first four seasons in the league. He never reached those heights with the Lightning.

Mikael Renberg
Renberg had much of his career success with the Flyers.
(Getty Images)

The Flyers made out like bandits in the deal. They used three of the draft picks to select Simone Gagne, Maxime Ouellet and Justin Williams. The fourth pick was traded to the Senators. Tampa Bay ended up traded Renberg back to the Flyers on Dec. 12, 1998, along with Daymond Langkow, for Chris Gratton and Mike Sillinger.

On Aug. 20, 2001, Hall of Fame defenseman Salva Fetisov was named the general manager and head coach of the Russian national team. The former Devils assistant coach led Russia to the bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT. Pavel Bure took over the general manager role for the 2006 games.

Happy Birthday to You

Aug. 20 has appropriately produced 20 NHL players over the years. The first was Ernest Kenny, who was born on this date in 1907. He played in 10 games for the Rangers and Blackhawks during the 1930s. The most recent was former Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre, who was born on Aug. 20, 1992.

The player who had the most impactful career of this lot is Chris Drury, who was born on Aug. 20, 1976. He won the Calder Trophy, for being the league’s top rookie, when he scored 20 goals and 44 points for the Colorado Avalanche during the 1998-99 season. He was a big part of the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup win in 2001.

Chris Drury, New York Rangers
Drury was a workhorse during his NHL career.
(THW Archives)

At the time of his retirement in 2011, Drury had played in 892 games, scoring 255 goals and 615 points with the Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres and Rangers. He is currently the assistant general manager for the Rangers and oversees the Hartford Wolf Pack, their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. He is reportedly a top candidate for the vacant general manager position with the Florida Panthers.

Other notable players born on this date include Al Hamilton (74), Steven Finn (54), Robert Dirk (54), Joe Vitale (35), Jyrki Jokipakka (29) and the late Ed Sanford.