Training camps are back, but we at Last Word on Hockey are still going to look back at each date’s historical significance to the game. We’ll remember the moments that shaped the sport of hockey that happened on this day. Here’s our look at this date in hockey history for July 21st, featuring Auston Matthews.
Today in Hockey History
Auston Matthews Signs With Toronto
2016: The Toronto Maple Leafs forward signs his three-year entry-level contract. Matthews is the first American-born player to be taken first overall since Patrick Kane in 2007. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native is also the first top pick for Toronto since Wendel Clark in 1985.
He makes a big splash with four goals in his first career game against the Ottawa Senators. Matthews scores 40 goals in his rookie season and helps the Leafs make the post-season. He takes the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie.
Other Notable Events
1993: The Tampa Bay Lightning sign free agent forward Gerard Gallant. It’s the last NHL team he plays for as he retires after stints in the IHL with the Atlanta Knights (1994-95) and Detroit Vipers (1995-96).
1996: The New York Rangers sign Wayne Gretzky to a two-year, $10 million deal. Gretzky gets to reunite with Edmonton Oilers teammate Mark Messier on Broadway. The duo helps the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final. However, they are eliminated in five games by the Philadelphia Flyers. Messier leaves for the Vancouver Canucks next season while Gretzky retires in 1999 with the Rangers.
1997: The Buffalo Sabres hire Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. He goes 571-432-84 with 78 ties in 15 seasons in Western New York. Ruff guides the Sabres to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, but they lose to the Dallas Stars in six games.
Washington signs free agent forward Ulf Dahlen to a deal. The veteran had been playing in Sweden before making a return to North America.
Happy Birthday to You
1912: Lou Trudel
1925: Johnny Peirson
1930: Dutch Reibel
1943: Bill Flett
1952: Phil Russell
1968: Lyle Odelein