The 4th of July is usually reserved for fireworks in the sky in the United States. However, there have been plenty of fireworks in the form of big trades and free-agent signings on this date throughout National Hockey League history.
A Swap of Hall of Famers
On July 4, 1994, the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues traded a pair of veteran defensemen who would both find their way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Flames traded Al MacInnis and a fourth-round draft pick to the Blues for Phil Housley and a pair of second-round draft picks.
MacInnis, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons, was the Flames’ all-time lead scoring at the time of the trade. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy, for being the most valuable player of the playoffs when Calgary won the Stanley Cup in 1989. He played another 10 seasons with the Blues and won the Norris Trophy, for being voted the best defenseman in the league, following the 1998-99 season.
Housley was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the 1996 NHL trade deadline. He did return to Calgary after being claimed off of waivers from the Washington Capitals in 1998. He played a total of 328 games over his two stints with the Flames.
Wild Swing for the Fences
Heading into the summer of 2012, the two biggest names on the free-agent market were defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise. On July 4, 2012, the duo signed 13-year contracts with the Minnesota Wild. These types of lengthy contracts were outlawed in the 2013 collective bargaining agreement, but at the time they were used to help alleviate high salary cap hits.
Parise was born in Minneapolis while his father, J.P., was a popular member of the Minnesota North Stars. He was coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the Devils and had scored at least 31 goals in five of his seven seasons in the league. Suter, born in Madison, WI, played his first seven seasons with the Nashville Predators.
The addition of the two All-Stars made the Wild instant Stanley Cup contenders, but it never quite worked out as envisioned. The Wild made the playoffs in each of the first six seasons Parise and Suter were on the team, but they only made out of the first round twice and never past the second round.
Dallas Lands a Star
The Boston Bruins made a huge trade on July 4, 2013, just a few days removed from losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. They traded Tyler Seguin, forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Ryan Button to the Dallas Stars for forward Loui Eriksson and prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser.
Seguin, just 21 at the time, was the centerpiece of the deal. He had 16 goals and 32 points during the 48-game 2013 regular season. He scored just one goal during the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Final, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying as he put up 70 shots on goal.
Since arriving in Dallas, Seguin has scored 223 goals and 514 points in 538 games. Erikson scored 62 goals over three seasons with the Bruins before signing with the Vancouver Canucks in 2016. Smith had 33 goals in Boston before he was traded, along with Marc Savard’s contract, to the Florida Panthers for Jimmy Hayes in 2015. Fraser played in 38 games for the Bruins and has not played in the NHL since 2015. Morrow has never played in the NHL.
Odds & Ends
On July 4, 1979, the Toronto Maple Leafs named Punch Imlach as their new general manager, replacing Jim Gregory. This was Imlach’s second tour of duty as the Maple Leafs’ general manager. He was the helm during one of their most successful eras of hockey. In Imlach’s first stint, between 1958 and 1969, the Maple Leafs made it to the Stanley Cup Final six times, winning four championships. His second go-round only lasted until October of 1981.
The Flames signed undrafted free-agent goaltender Dwayne Roloson, on July 4, 1994, after he completed his college career at Lowell University. He made his NHL debut with the Flames in 1996 and played two seasons with them before signing with the Buffalo Sabres in 1998. His career spanned 14 seasons with 606 combined appearances with the Flames, Sabres, Wild, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Maple Leafs signed a pair of veterans, on July 4, 2000, when they brought Shayne Corson and Gary Roberts on board. Corson played the next three seasons in Toronto and scored 27 goals and 74 points. Roberts scored 83 goals and 157 points in four seasons with the Maple Leafs, despite missing most of the 2002-03 season with a shoulder injury.
The Montreal Canadiens signed veteran center Yanic Perreault on July 4, 2001. He went on to score a career-high 27 goals and 56 points during the 2001-02 season, which led the team.
Happy Birthday to You
There is a total of 21 players who have skated in at least one NHL game who was born on this date. The most notable names of the group are Kevin McClelland (58), Steve Rucchin (49), Mike Knuble (48), Keith Kinkaid (31), Jake Gardiner (30), Trevor Carrick (26), Artturi Lehkonen (25), Jason Dickinson (25) and the late Pat Stapleton and Juhn Widing.