Today in Hockey History: Toronto Maple Leafs Hire Roger Neilson

Roger Neilson
Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Roger Neilson. (NHL.com)

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 25th, featuring Roger Neilson.

Today in Hockey History

Roger Neilson Becomes Toronto Coach

1977: The Toronto Maple Leafs hire Neilson to replace the great Red Kelly behind the bench. Nelson is nicknamed “Captain Video” because he’s one of the first to use footage to analyze opponents. He also uses headsets to communicate with his assistants and is notorious for finding loopholes in the rules.

Neilson leads the Leafs to the Stanley Cup semifinals in 1978, but he’s fired after going 34-33-13 in 1978-79. He’d go on to coach seven teams during his career. He’d make the 1982 Cup Final with the Vancouver Canucks in 1982. However, they’d be swept by the New York Islanders. Neilson finishes 460-378-3 with 159 ties and makes the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Other Notable Events

1979: The Winnipeg Jets ink Swedish right wing Willy Lindstrom to a deal. He played the last four seasons with the Jets when they were in the World Hockey Association. The forward stays another four years in Manitoba before moving signing with the Edmonton Oilers.

1990: The Minnesota North Stars sign veteran forward Brian Propp to a free agent contract. He played the last 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers before moving to Minnesota. The veteran left wing finishes with 73 points (26 goals, 47 assists) in his first season with Minnesota. Propp adds 23 points as the North Stars reach the Fina, but lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1997: The San Jose Sharks obtain veteran forward Murray Craven from the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago gets Petri Varis and a sixth-round choice in return.

2000: The Boston Bruins sign free agent Andrei Kovalenko to a deal. He scores 16 goals with the Bruins, but it’s his last season in North America. He’ll move on to play for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Avangard Omsk and Severstal Cherepovets in Russia. Kovalenko retires after the 2007-08 season.

Happy Birthday to You

1953: Pekka Rautakallio

1959: Tim Watters

1964: Tony Granato

1975: Evgeni Nabokov

1994: Mathew Dumba; Andrei Vasilevskiy

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