Today in Hockey History: June 25

June 25 has been an important date for the National Hockey League and its growth from six to the soon-to-be 32 teams. Also, this date brought us some important rule changes, a new postseason award, and a whole slew of new stars. So let’s hop aboard the THW time machine and enjoy all the best moments.

Expansion is the Word of the Day

The NHL laid down the foundation for expansion on June 25, 1965. It was on this date when the league announced its intention to expand into new cities of “major league status.” Two years later, the league doubled from six to 12 teams when the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues all began play.

Terry Sawchuk and the Kings were part of the first wave of expansion in 1967. (THW Archives)

Four more teams were officially added to the league on this date in 1997. The NHL announced that the Nashville Predators would become its 27th team when they begin play in the 1998-99 season. The following season, the Atlanta Thrashers would join the ranks. They also announced that the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild would push the NHL to 30 teams at the start of the 2000-01 season.

Two years later, on June 25, 1999, the Thrashers filled out their roster at the Expansion Draft in Boston. The Thrashers selected 26 players, one from each team except the Predators. Each team was allowed to protect either one goaltender, five defensemen, and nine forwards or two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards. Teams that lost a goaltender in the previous year’s expansion draft could not lose one this time around.

The Thrashers had to pick at least three goaltenders, eight defensemen, and 13 forwards. Their final two choices could be from any position. Their first pick was goaltender Trevor Kidd from the Carolina Hurricanes. Some other notable picks included Jamie Pushor, Mark Tinordi, Kelly Buchberger, and Steve Staios.

Before the draft, Atlanta acquired multiple players via trade, including Damian Rhodes and Ulf Samuelsson. Kidd, who was selected first, was traded to the Florida Panthers for Gord Murphy, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Herberts Vasiljevs, and a sixth-round pick (Justin Cox) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

2010 Brings in Impressive Draft Class

The NHL Entry Draft began on June 25, 2010, as the 30 teams of the NHL gathered in Los Angeles. The Edmonton Oilers used the first overall pick to select Taylor Hall from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. This was the first of three straight years with the Oilers selecting first. They picked Ryan-Nugent Hopkins in 2011 and Nail Yakupov in 2012.

Taylor Hall
Hall was the first player selected in 2010. (Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE)

The first round was full of future stars, including Tyler Seguin (2nd, Boston Bruins), Ryan Johansen (4th, Blue Jackets), Jeff Skinner (7th, Hurricanes), Cam Fowler (12th, Anaheim Ducks), Vladimir Tarasenko (16th, Blues), Evgeny Kuznetsov (26th, Washington Capitals), Charlie Coyle (28th, San Jose Sharks) and Brock Nelson (30th, New York Islanders).

Some of the better picks after the first round were Justin Faulk (37th, Hurricanes), Tyler Toffoli (47th, Kings), Jason Zucker (59th, Wild), Bryan Rust (80th, Penguins), John Klingberg (131st, Dallas Stars), Michael Ferland (133rd, Calgary Flames), Brendan Gallagher (147th, Montreal Canadiens), Mark Stone (178th, Ottawa Senators) and Frederik Andersen (187th, Hurricanes).

New Rules, Trophy

June 25, 1998, was a busy day for the NHL as they announced some rule changes and a new postseason award. First, the goal lines would be moved from 11 to 13 feet away from end boards, thus shortening the neutral zone. Also, the two-referee system was slowly implemented. The league announced that there would be two referees on the ice for 20 per team during the 1998-99 season, 25 games the following season, and they would be used in every game starting in the 2000-01 season.

hockey rule changes
The two-referee system was implemented on his date in 1998. (THW Archives)

They also established the Maurice Richard Trophy, which is now given to the player who leads the league in goals each season. The first winner was Teemu Selanne, who scored 47 goals for the Ducks during the 1998-99 season. Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals has won the award nine times in his career so far. No other player has won it more than twice.

Odds & Ends

The Chicago Blackhawks made a very wise move on June 25, 1979. They had originally drafted forward Real Cloutier ninth overall in the 1976 NHL Entry Draft, but he decided to stay with the Quebec Nordiques in the World Hockey Association. When the WHA folded, and the Nordiques joined the NHL, the Blackhawks still held Cloutier’s rights. The Blackhawks received Quebec’s first-round pick in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft in agreement to not reclaim Cloutier. They used that pick to select Hall of Famer Denis Savard.

The Kings made some major changes on June 25, 1992. They hired new general manager Nick Beverly as their new general manager, who quickly named Barry Melrose the new head coach. The Kings made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final but lost the Canadiens in their first season under the leadership of Beverly and Melrose. However, the partnership was not long-term as Beverly resigned in May of 1994, and Melrose was fired following the 1994-95 season.

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its newest class of members on June 25, 1993. The group included Islanders goaltender and four-time Stanley Cup winner Billy Smith, along with Steve Shutt and Guy Lapointe, who were key members of the Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s. Edgar Laprade, a member of the New York Rangers, also made the cut with builders Seymour Knox III and Frank Griffiths.

Happy Birthday to You

Doug Gilmour leads a ground of 25 current and former NHL players sharing a birthday today. Gilmour, born on June 25, 1963, played 20 seasons in the NHL after being drafted in the seventh round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the Blues. He scored 450 goals and 1,414 points in 1,474 games with the Blues, Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, and Canadiens.

Doug Gilmour Toronto Maple Leafs
Happy Birthday, Doug Gilmour! (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

After scoring 26 goals and 85 points during the 1988-89 regular season, he scored 11 goals and 22 points to held the Flames to their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. He appeared to be headed back to the Stanley Cup Final with the Maple Leafs in 1993 when he had 10 goals and 25 points in 21 playoff games, but they lost to the Kings in a memorable seven-game conference final.

Gilmour had a heck of a career for a guy who drafted 134th overall. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011, and his number 93 is retired by the Maple Leafs.

Other players born on this date include Ken Hodge (77), Greg Millen (64), Todd Reirden (50), Robert Reichel (50), Glen Metropolit (47), Jhonas Enroth (33), Jaden Schwartz (29), Jordan Oesterle (29) and Mikhail Sergachev (23).