Today in Hockey History: July 18

July 18 has not seen a ton of moves, but two of the National Hockey League’s “Original Six” franchises set themselves up for long-term success on this date. Also, a crazy front office situation on Long Island got even crazier.

Red Wings Make Huge Moves

July 18, 1997, is a very important date in Detroit Red Wings history. It was on this date when they signed head coach Scotty Bowman to a two-year contract extension. The deal came just a few weeks after he led the Red Wings to their first Stanley Cup win in 42. They won a second straight championship the following season and again in 2002, Bowman’s final season of his legendary coaching career.

Scotty Bowman and Brett Hull of the Detroit Red Wings celebrate with the Stanley Cup
Bowman and Brett Hull celebrate the 2002 Stanley Cup win. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI)

They also promoted assistant general manager Ken Holland to the general manager on this date. He would hold that role until April of 2019, winning three more Stanley Cups. The Red Wings qualified for the playoffs in each of his first 18 seasons with Holland as general manager.

Some of Holland’s best draft picks in Detroit include Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin.  

General manager Ken Holland
Holland had quite the run over two decades in Detroit. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Holland is currently looking to repeat his long-term success with the Edmonton Oilers, where he was hired as general manager on May 7, 2019.

Blackhawks Make a Serious Choice for Captain

The Chicago Blackhawks named Jonathan Toews the 35th team captain in their storied franchised history on July 18, 2008. The move comes after just one season with the team. The Blackhawks played the 2007-08 season without a captain.

At just 20 years and 79 days, Toews is the youngest captain in Blackhawks’ history and, at the time, the third-youngest in league history. Since putting the “C” on his sweater, Toews has scored 321 goals and 761 points. He also met NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at center ice to accept the Stanley Cup three different times.

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Captain Serious became a thing on this date in 2008. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy, in 2010, for being the most valuable player of the playoffs; a run that ended the Blackhawks’ 49-year championship drought. He also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2013, which is given to the best defensive forward in the league. He has been the longest-serving captain in team history at 12 seasons at counting.

Odds & Ends

On July 18, 1995, the Buffalo Sabres named Ted Nolan as their new head coach, replacing John Muckler who remained as general manager. Nolan won the Northeast Division title in his second season behind the bench. He also won the 1997 Jack Adams Award, as the coach of the year.

His success was short-lived as he was not behind the bench for the 1997-98 season. Muckler was fired, mostly due to a strained relationship with both Nolan and star goaltender Dominik Hasek, and replaced with Darcy Regier. He offered Nolan, whose contract had expired, just a one-year extension, which was rejected. Lindy Ruff was named the new head coach of the Sabres a couple of days later.

Nolan returned as the Sabres head coach during the 2013-14 season and remained on through 2014-15. He won just 40 games in his second stint, the same he won in just the 1996-97 season.

The Blackhawks signed veteran forward Valeri Zelepukin, on July 18, 2000, who had been with the Philadelphia Flyers the previous season. This was the fourth and final stop in his 10-season NHL career. He scored just three goals and seven points in 36 games in Chicago.

New York Islanders goaltender Garth Snow retired, on July 18, 2006, after 12 seasons in the NHL. He was immediately named the team’s general manager. Snow was the third general manager in six weeks for the Islanders. Former New York Rangers general manager, Neil Smith, replaced Mike Milbury on June 8, 2006, but didn’t make it through the summer.

General manager Garth Snow
Snow was at the helm of the Islanders for 12 years. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Snow held on the general manager job through the 2017-18 season. His draft record includes players like Travis Harmonic, Jared Spurgeon, John Tavares, Calvin de Haan, Anders Lee, Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.

Happy Birthday to You

There are 18 current and former NHL players who were born July 18. Defenseman Don Awrey played the most games of the bunch, with 979. He was born in Kitchener, Ontario, on July 18, 1943. He was a big part of the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship in 1970 and 1972.

In 1973, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Jake Rathwell and a second-round draft pick that turned into Mark Howe. He also spent time with the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers and Colorado Rockies before retiring in 1979.

The late Gord McFarlane, born on this date in 1901, played in the fewest game. He appeared in just two games for the Blackhawks during the 1926-27 season, scoring no points.

Dallas Stars captain Jaime Benn, born on July 18, 1989, has the most goals of the birthday boys. He scored the 300th goal of this career on Feb. 27, versus the Bruins.

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Benn is one of only four players to score 300 goals for the Stars. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Benn has played his entire career with the Stars after they drafted him in the fifth round (129th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He won the Art Ross Trophy in 2015 for leading the NHL with 87 points. He is currently fourth all-time in franchise scoring with 688 points.

Other notable players born on this date include Ted Harris (84), Dennis Seidenberg (39), Mikko Koskinen (32), Melker Karlsson (30), Victor Olofsson (25) and Miro Heiskanen (21).