Today in Hockey History: July 22

Blackhawks History, Blue Jackets History, Column, Coyotes History, Phil Housley, Rangers History, Red Wings History, Sergei Zubov, Sid Abel, Stars History, Top Story

This date in National Hockey League history has not been the most eventful by any means, but it has still provided some interesting tidbits. One veteran player got traded twice on the same day and the birth of a Hall of Fame defenseman are two of the biggest July 22 memories.

Sillinger’s Busy Day

July 22, 2003, is a day that Mike Sillinger will never forget as he was a member of three different teams within a span of a couple of hours. The veteran started the day on the roster of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who he had scored 38 goals and 86 points for over the previous two seasons.

The Blue Jackets traded Sillinger to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Darryl Sydor a second-round draft pick in 2004. That draft pick was eventually used on Johan Fransson, who never played in the NHL. Sydor only played 49 games in Columbus before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sillinger’s time with the Stars was very brief as he was quickly dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Teppo Numminen and a conditional draft pick. Numminen spent the 2003-04 season in Dallas before signing with the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 2004.

Sillinger was on the move again, at the 2004 trade deadline, when he was sent to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Brent Johnson. He scored eight goals and 14 points in 60 games with the Coyotes and put up five goals and 10 assists during his 16 games in St. Louis.

Changing addresses was nothing new for Sillinger, who played for 12 different teams over 15 seasons. He retired in 2008 after scoring 240 goals and 548 points in 1049 games with the Detroit Red Wings, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Lightning, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Blues, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders.

Winter Classic Comes to Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks and the Red Wings were at Wrigley Field, on July 22, 2008. They were there to make a joint announcement with the Chicago Cubs and NHL that the 2009 Winter Classic would be played at the historic baseball stadium on Jan. 1, 2009. This was the second Winter Classic and third outdoor game in league history.

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The 2009 Winter Classic was a huge moment for the Blackhawks, who were a forgotten franchise in their own city. After years of last-place teams and an empty arena, this game ushered in a new era of relevance and, most importantly, sustained success. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the Red Wings spoiled the big day with a 6-4 victory after falling behind 3-1 in the first period.

Odds & Ends

Abel was the last player-coach in the NHL. (THW Archives)

The Blackhawks purchased the contract of Red Wings star Sid Abel on July 22, 1952. After scoring 183 goals and 463 points in 570 games in Detroit, the future Hall of Famer played in just 42 games for the Blackhawks over the next two seasons, where he served as head coach, as well as playing. He was the last full-time player-coach in NHL history. He coached the Blackhawks through the end of the 1953-54 season before returning to the Red Wings, in the same role, in 1957.

On July 22, 1988, the Washington Capitals traded Greg Adams to the Edmonton Oilers for the rights to Geoff Courtnall. Adams scored four goals and nine points, in 49 games, before the Oilers traded him to the Canucks, along with Doug Smith, for John LeBlanc and a fifth-round draft pick.

Courtnall signed with the Capitals and scored 77 goals and 154 points, in 159 games, over the next two seasons in Washington. He was traded to the Blues, on July 13, 1990, for Peter Zezel and Mike Lalor.

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The Capitals also signed free-agent defenseman Phil Housley on July 22, 1996. Housley played two seasons with the Capitals, scoring 17 goals and 71 points in 141 games. He was claimed on waivers by the Calgary Flames almost exactly two years later, on July 21, 1998.

Happy Birthday to You

A total of 23 current and former NHL players were born on this date along with an early pioneer in officiating.

J. Cooper Smeaton was born on July 22, 1890. He did it all during his life in the game from being a player to a referee and even a head coach. He joined the National Hockey Association (NHA) as a referee in 1913. His first game was a tilt between the Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Wanders. He fined Hall of Famer Newsy Lalonde $5 for arguing an offside call.

Smeaton joined the Canadian military in 1914 and fought in World War I in France. When the NHL formed in 1917, they named Smeaton the first referee in chief. He turned down the chance to become the first-ever general manager of the New York Rangers in 1926. He remained as a referee until 1930 when he became the head coach of the Philadelphia Quakers.

The Quakers folded after one season and Smeaton returned as a referee until he retired in 1937. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a referee in 1961.

Of the players born on this date, Sergei Zubov is by far the best of the group. He is the only Hall of Famer with a July 22 birthday. He played in the most games (1068) and had the most goals (152), assists (619) and points (771). The slick-skating defenseman won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with the Rangers in 1994, scoring five goals and 19 points in 22 playoff games. He got his name on the Cup a second time with the Stars in 1999.

Sergei Zubov of the New York Rangers
Zubov’s Hall of Fame career began with the Rangers.
(Robert Laberg/Allsport)

Other notable players born on July 23 include Gerry Desjardins (76), Dmitri Kalinin (40), Kevin Fiala (24), Jason Robertson (21).

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