One of the most dramatic sagas in National Hockey League history finally came to an end on this date in 1992. Also, a talented draft class entered the league, a new franchise got its first coach and a relocated one got its new identity.
Lindros’ Fate Decided
The Quebec Nordiques used the first overall pick of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft to select Eric Lindros, even though he publicly declared he did not want to play for the team. He was a man of his word and sat out the entire 1991-92 season.
Just over a year later, on June 30, 1992, Lindros was officially traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, it took an arbitrator’s decision to finalize his landing spot. Both the Flyers and the New York Rangers made offers to the Nordiques at the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.
The Flyers believed they had a deal in place when Quebec agreed to a trade with the Rangers for Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, Doug Weight, three first-round picks (in 1993, 1994 and 1996) and $12 million. A complaint was filed and the league turned the case over to arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi ruled that the Flyers’ offer was accepted 80 minutes before the deal with the Rangers was made and ruled that the trade is official. The Flyers paid a hefty price to land Lindros by giving up Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, the rights to Peter Forsberg, the Flyers’ first-round pick in 1992 (seventh overall) and 1993 and $15 million.
Lindros scored 290 goals and 659 points in 486 games for the Flyers. After missing the entire 2000-01 season due to a concussion, he is traded, ironically, to the Rangers for Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavac, Pavel Brendl and a third-round pick.
In hindsight, fans in Denver should be very happy Bertuzzi ruled in Philadelphia’s favor because the return had a lot to do with the franchise winning two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche. Forsberg had a Hall of Fame career and Ricchi scored six goals and 17 points during the team’s 1996 postseason run to a championship. The 1993 first-round pick was used on goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, who was the key piece in the 1995 trade with the Montreal Canadiens for Patrick Roy.
Avalanche Nab MacKinnon
Newark, NJ hosted the annual NHL Entry Draft on June 30, 2013. The Avalanche used the first overall pick to draft Nathan MacKinnon from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). MacKinnon was in the opening night lineup for the Avalanche that fall and played in all 82 games of the 2013-14 season. He won the Calder Trophy, for being the league’s top rookie, by scoring 24 goals and 63 points. The speedy forward has 190 goals and 495 points through the first 525 games of his career.
The first round produced quite a bit of talent with Aleksander Barkov (2nd, Florida Panthers), Seth Jones (4th, Nashville Predators), Elias Lindholm (5th, Carolina Hurricanes), Sean Monahan (6th, Calgary Flames), Darnell Nurse (7th, Edmonton Oilers), Rasmus Ristolainen (8th, Buffalo Sabres), Bo Horvat (9th, Vancouver Canucks), Max Domi (12th, Arizona Coyotes), Anthony Mantha (20th, Detroit Red Wings) and Shea Theodore (26th, Anaheim Ducks) all being selected.
Later-round picks that have worked out well include Artturi Lehkonen (55th, Canadiens), Brett Pesce (66th, Hurricanes), Pavel Buchnevich (75th, New York Rangers), Jake Guentzel (77th, Pittsburgh Penguins), Oliver Bjorkstrand (89th, Columbus Blue Jackets), Juuse Saros (99th, Predators), Miles Wood (100th, New Jersey Devils), Andrew Copp (104th, Winnipeg Jets) and Andreas Johnson (202nd, Toronto Maple Leafs).
New Jersey Gets a Name
On June 20, 1982, the New Jersey hockey franchise finally got its name after the Colorado Rockies relocated to the Garden State. The Devils nickname won a contest that allowed fans to vote on the team name. The name refers to the legend of the Jersey Devil, a creature that was said to inhabit southern New Jersey and emits a blood-curdling scream. Blades, Americans and Meadowlanders were runners-up in the contest.
This wasn’t the only news the team made this day. They also named general manager Bill MacMillan as the new coach. This was his second stint as head coach as he was behind the bench for the Rockies during the 1980-81 season. He was fired from both jobs 20 games into the 1983-84 season.
Odds & Ends
The Rangers purchased the contract of Doug Bentley, on June 30, 1953, from the Chicago Blackhawks. They lured him back from the Saskatoon Quakers of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) after acquiring his brother Max from the Blackhawks. The future Hall of Famer scored a goal and three assists in this Rangers debut. He played in just 20 games with the team and returned to Saskatoon to be a player-coach for their postseason run.
June 30, 1993, was a very busy day off the ice. First, Emile Francis announced he was stepping down as president of the Hartford Whalers, ending his 47-year career in the sport. Francis started his long journey as a goaltender in both the Blackhawks and Rangers organizations between 1946 and 1960, appearing in 95 NHL games.
After spending two seasons as the head coach of the Rangers’ junior team, Francis was promoted to assistant general manager. He was named the general manager and head coach in 1965 and held both posts until January of 1976. The St. Louis Blues hired him as general manager the following spring. He remained with the Blues until 1983 and even coached the team for three seasons. Francis joined the Whalers as general manager in 1983 and was promoted to team president in 1988. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982 as a builder.
On that same date, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim named Ron Wilson as their first head coach in franchise history. He would go 120-145-31 over four seasons with the team. He led them to their first playoff appearance in the 1996-97 season, his last behind their bench. They won their first-ever playoff series by beating the Phoenix Coyotes in seven games before being swept by the Red Wings in the second round, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Speaking of the Red Wings, they acquired Kris Draper from the Jets, on June 30, 1993, for future considerations. He went on to play 17 seasons with the Red Wings and was a part of four Stanley Cup championships. In case you are wondering, the future considerations ended up being $1. That’s a pretty good way to spend a buck.
The Rangers traded the rights to free-agent defenseman Brian Leetch to the Oilers, on June 30, 2003, in exchange for backup goaltender Jussi Markkanen and a fourth-round pick. However, he re-signed with the Rangers a month later. He was eventually traded again, in March of 2004, with the pick acquired in the trade with the Oilers, to the Maple Leafs for Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immonen and a first and second-round draft pick.
Happy Birthday to You
There are 24 players who have skated in the NHL born on this date. Among the lot is Orval Tessier (87), Steve Weeks (62), Bob Froese (62), Randy Ladouceur (60), Steve Duchesne (55), Jim Montgomery (51), Jamie McLennan (49), Andrew Alberts (39) and Taro Hirose (24).