Today in Hockey History: July 5

Despite no games on the schedule, July 5 has been a rather busy day in National Hockey League history. We’ve seen some familiar faces in new places, plenty of coaching changes, and a generational talent received a huge new contract. So let’s begin our daily trip back in time to enjoy all the best from this date.

The End of an Era

The face of the Ottawa Senators franchise changed addresses on July 5, 2013. Daniel Alfredsson signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, ending his 17-season career with the Senators.

Alfredsson was one of the greatest late-round draft picks in NHL history after he was selected by the Senators in the sixth round (133rd overall) of the 1994 Entry Draft. He won the Calder Trophy, for being the top rookie, by scoring 26 goals and 61 points during the 1995-96 season. He is still the Senators’ all-time leader in goals (426), assists (682), and points (1,108).

Chronic back problems limit Alfredsson to 68 games in his lone season with the Red Wings, but he still scored 18 goals and 49 points. He officially retired back in Ottawa in December 2014.

On July 5, 1978, Harry Howell took over as the Minnesota North Stars’ head coach, replacing Lou Nanne, who was named the new general manager. Howell was the general manager of the Cleveland Barons before the two franchises merged the previous month. Howell’s tenure as head coach only lasted 11 games before he was replaced with Glen Sonmor.

The Boston Bruins hired Fred Creighton to be their new head coach on July 5, 1979, to replace the recently fired Don Cherry. The controversial coach was let go after five seasons behind the Bruins bench that included four division titles and back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 1977 and 1978.

Creighton didn’t even make it through the 1979-80 season as he was let go with just seven games remaining in the regular season. General manager Harry Sinden served as head coach for the remainder of the season and playoffs.

The New York Islanders began their relationship with Mike Milbury on July 5, 1995, when they named him their new head coach. In December of that year, he added general manager to his title, a job he held until 2006. Milbury served as head coach on three different occasions during his time with the team, going 56-111-24 with him behind the bench.

Dave King was hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 5, 2000, to be their first head coach in franchise history. King went 64-106-34 before being let go midway through the 2002-03 season and replaced with Doug MacLean.

McDavid Gets McPaid

The Edmonton Oilers made Connor McDavid a wealthy man on July 5, 2017. That is when they signed their 22-year-old superstar to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension. His annual salary of $12.5 million per season made him the highest-paid player in the NHL.

McDavid led the league in scoring with 100 points in the 2016-17 season and signed the extension with one year remaining on his entry-level contract. He also won the Hart Trophy for being the league’s MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award for being voted the most outstanding player by his peers.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
McDavid cashed in on this date in 2017. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He did not disappoint in the first season of his new deal. In 2018-19, he scored 41 goals and picked up 75 assists for 108 points, setting or tying a career-high in all three categories. To date (July 5, 2023), he has scored 303 goals and 850 points in 569 games along with five Art Ross Trophies, three Hart Trophies, a Rocket Richard Trophy, and four Lester Pearson Awards. I think it’s safe to say he’s living up to his contract.

Odds & Ends

July 5, 1983, was a busy day for defensemen who became NHL head coaches. Long before becoming famous for his mullet and guiding the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final, Barry Melrose was a blueliner. On this date, he was signed by the Red Wings. He played 35 games over the next two seasons, his final two as a player.

On this same date, Joel Quenneville was traded by the Calgary Flames, along with Richie Dunn, to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Mickey Volcan. Quenneville spent the next seven seasons with the Whalers, playing in 457 games. He later replaced Mike Ditka as the most popular mustached coach in the Windy City by winning three Stanley Cups as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Joel Quenneville
Quenneville became a Whaler on this date in 1983. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)

On July 5, 2000, the NHL named Hall of Fame referee Andy van Hellemond as the league’s new Director of Officiating. He held the post for four years before resigning in 2004.

The same day that Alfredsson signed with the Red Wings, July 5, 2013, another future Hall of Famer signed with a new team. Jarome Iginla inked a one-year contract with the Bruins. He scored 30 goals during the 2013-14 season, his only one in Boston. It was the 12th and final 30-goal season of his extraordinary career.

July 5, 2021, was a somber day in Columbus as prospect Matiss Kivlenieks passed away at the young age of 24 after a tragic fall on July 4 that resulted in a head injury. A native of Latvia, he had appeared in eight games over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons where he posted a 2-2-2 record and represented his country at the 2021 World Hockey Championship. His last game action was a 2-0 shutout of Team Canada – the nation’s first-ever win over the powerhouse.

“Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten.” – John Davidson, Blue Jackets’ President of Hockey Operations

On this date in 2022, the San Jose Sharks hired former forward Mike Grier as their new GM. He became the NHL’s first black GM in league history.

Happy Birthday to You

Doug Wilson was born on July 5, 1957. He was drafted by the Blackhawks with the sixth overall pick of the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. He won the Norris Trophy for being voted the best defenseman in the league by scoring a career-high 39 goals and 85 points during the 1981-82 season.

Doug Wilson Chicago Black Hawks
Doug Wilson, Chicago Black Hawks, Mar. 8, 1986 (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)

He was traded to the Sharks just before the 1991-92 season and played his final two seasons with them. He was hired as their GM in 2003 and stayed in that position until 2022. His 554 assists and 779 points for the Blackhawks are the most by a defenseman in franchise history. Wilson is part of the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class.

John LeClair was born on this date in 1969. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He was part of the 1993 Stanley Cup championship team. LeClair was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 9, 1995, with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne for Mark Recchi and a third-round draft pick.

John Leclair Philadelphia Flyers
LeClair was one of the top-scoring American-born players of all time. (Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/ALLSPORT)

LeClair scored 333 goals and 643 points in 10 seasons with the Flyers before wrapping up his career by playing two seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was the first American-born player ever to have three straight 50-goal seasons. His 406 goals are the eighth-most all-time among American-born players. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Other notable players who were born on July 5 include Chris Gratton (48), Alexander Radulov (37), Cam Talbot (36), Dwight King (34), Danton Heinen (28), and Lucas Carlsson (26).

*Originally constructed by Greg Boysen