One of the greatest coaches in the National Hockey League was born this date many years ago. Also, two players who had great runs and won championships in Motown moved on.
The Birth of a Coaching Legend
Dick Irvin was born, on July 19, 1892, in Hamilton, Ontario. After very successful runs in both the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) and Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), he made his NHL debut, as a player, for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1926. He scored 18 goals and 36 points in 44 games during the 1926-27 season and served as the first captain in team history.
Injuries, including a fractured skull, limited Irvin to just 51 games over the next two seasons and forced him to retire in 1929. When he couldn’t play anymore during the 1928-29 season, he became the Blackhawks head coach. He took the Blackhawks to the 1931 Stanley Cup Final but was not brought back the following season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Irvin prior to the 1931-32 season and he won his first of four Stanley Cup championships that season. He remained as their head coach until 1940, taking them to the Final six more times but coming up short in each trip. Following a loss in the 1940 Final, Maple Leafs general manager, Conn Smythe, decided to head in a different direction and let Irvin go.
There were no hard feelings, as it was Smythe who recommended to the Montreal Canadiens that they hire Irvin. They were coming off a 10-win season and needed some help. He coached the Canadiens for 15 seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 1944, 1946 and 1954. Irvin was the first NHL head coach for legendary players like Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard.
The Canadiens parted ways with Irvin, in 1955, following a loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Final. He returned to the team his NHL career began with, the Blackhawks, for the 1955-56 season. Health issues force Irvin to retire after just one season back in Chicago.
At the time of his retirement, Irvin had amassed 691 wins, the most in NHL history. He’s still ranked seventh all-time in coaching wins over 60 years later. Irvin died of bone cancer on May 16, 1957, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame a year later.
Two Eras End in Detroit
On July 19, 2003, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim signed free-agent forward Sergei Fedorov. This move ended a 13-season run of success with the Red Wings. Detroit drafted Fedorov in the fourth round (74th overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He scored 400 goals and 954 assists in 908 games in a Red Wings sweater. He was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams and won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, in 1994, when scored 56 goals and 120 points.
Fedorov scored 31 goals and 65 points for the Ducks during the 2003-04 season, but the team missed the playoffs. He was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets early into the 2005-06 season for Tyler Wright and Francois Beauchemin.
Eight years later, on July 19, 2011, goaltender Chris Osgood retired. He spent 14 of his 17 seasons in the NHL with the Red Wings. They originally drafted him in the third round (54th overall) in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.
Osgood appeared in just two playoff games during the Red Wings’ run to the 1997 Stanley Cup. He was the starter for the following season’s championship, posting .918 save percentage (SV%) and 2.12 goals-against average (GAA) in 16 wins.
His first run with the Red Wings ended when he was claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders in September of 2001. They eventually traded him to the St. Louis Blues in 2003 for a draft pick that was used to draft current Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton.
He returned to Detroit as a free agent prior to the 2005-06 season. He posted a .930 SV% and 1.55 GAA in his 19 playoff games during the Red Wings’ run to the 2008 Stanley Cup. He started all 23 playoff games in Detroit’s return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009. The team came up short in their efforts to repeat, but that wasn’t Osgood’s fault, as he had a .926 SV% and 2.01 GAA.
Osgood retired with a record of 401-216-95, a .905 SV%, 2.49 GAA and 50 shutouts in 744 career NHL appearances.
Odds & Ends
The Ducks filled out the coaching staff for their inaugural season on July 19, 2003. They named Tim Army and Al Sims as assistants to new head coach Ron Wilson.
Army is currently the head coach of the Iowa Wild, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. He has also spent time as an assistant with the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche. In addition, he was the head coach Providence college and also had stints with the Portland Pirates and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL.
Sims was the first-ever draft pick of the New York Raiders in the World Hockey Association (WHA). He had a lengthy coaching career following his playing days, which included two seasons being Bobby Orr’s defensive partner with the Boston Bruins. He won the Turner Cup in the International Hockey League (IHL) with the Fort Wayne Komets in 1993, shortly before getting his first NHL job with the Ducks.
After spending three seasons with Wilson and the Ducks, Sims became the head coach of the San Jose Sharks, but he only had the job for the 1996-97 season, going 27-47-8. He returned to the IHL and became the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals. He won a second Turner Cup with the Komets in 2008.
In an example of how small the hockey world is, Sims’ son, Tyler, was a goaltender who played three seasons at Providence under Army.
The New York Rangers signed veteran free-agent defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre on July 19, 1999. He played the final four of his 14 seasons in the NHL with the Rangers. Overall, Lefebvre played in 945 games for the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques, Avalanche and Rangers. He was a member of the Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup in 1996.
His teammate on that 1996 team, Uwe Krupp, signed with the Atlanta Thrashers on July 19, 2002. The veteran defenseman only played in four games with the Thrashers during the 2003-04 season before retiring. Krupp was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 11th round (214th overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 729 NHL games, over 15 seasons, with the Sabres, Islanders, Nordiques, Avalanche, Red Wings and Thrashers.
Happy Birthday to You
In addition to Irvin, there are 17 other current and former NHL players born on July 19. Fedor Tyutin, who turns 37 today, played in the most games of the group. He dressed for 872 NHL contests with Rangers, Blue Jackets and Avalanche. On the flip side, Jamie Linden played in the fewest games; just four with the Florida Panthers in 1995.
Scott Walker, born on July 19, 1973, is the highest scorer of the July 19 birthday boys. He scored 151 goals and 397 points in 829 games for the Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes and Capitals.
Defenseman Craig Muni was born on July 19, 1962. He won three Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers in 1987, 1988 and 1990. He holds the record for the most Stanley Cup playoff games played without scoring a goal. He picked up 17 assists in 113 career postseason games, but never lit the lamp.
Other notable players born on July 19 include Steve Shields (48), David Tanabe (40), Devin Shore (26), Zach Werenski (23) and the late Craig Cameron.