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Today in Hockey History: New York Rangers Hire Roger Neilson

Roger Neilson

Hockey is finally 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 August 15th, featuring Roger Neilson.

Today in Hockey History

Roger Neilson Hired by Rangers

1989: The New York Rangers hire the decorated coach to help teach the team. General manager Neil Smith said “he’s one of the greatest teachers in this League and he’s perfect for the New York Rangers at this time.” The job is Neilson’s fifth coaching job in the league.

New York learns on the fly quickly as they win the division title for its first crown since 1942. The Rangers finish 50-25-5 and win the Presidents’ Trophy two seasons later. However, the team can’t make it past the second round and he’s fired halfway through the 1992-93 season.

Other Notable Events

1958: Craig MacTavish is born in London, Ontario. He is the last player in the league to go without a helmet. The Boston Bruins take the centre in the ninth round of the 1978 NHL Draft. NHL officials make helmets mandatory in 1979, but MacTavish is grandfathered in. He retires after the 1996-97 season having played 1,093 regular-season games and 193 more in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

1979: The New York Islanders sign Anders Kallur to a contract. He’s a member of the Swedish National team and was the team’s most valuable player. Kallur spends parts of six seasons with the Islanders and scores 36 goals in 1980-81.

1989: The Toronto Maple Leafs fire George Armstrong as head coach. Floyd Smith is named acting general manager after Gord Stellick resigns four days earlier.

1990: The Ottawa Senators submit their application to become an expansion franchise. Ottawa and the Tampa Bay Lightning are added to the league by a unanimous vote of the Board of Governors. The two teams start play in 1992-93 and bring the league to 24 teams.

2005: The Vancouver Canucks hire Alain Vigneault to become coach of the AHL Manitoba Moose. He was the former coach of the Montreal Canadiens and does well in the AHL. Vigneault goes 44-24-12 in his only season with the Moose. Vancouver promotes him to head coach and he finishes first six times in Vigneault’s seven seasons and advances to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

Happy Birthday to You

1949: Ivan Boldirev

1958: Craig MacTavish

1963: Greg Adams

1969: James Black

1975: Brendan Morrison

1977: Martin Biron

1989: Jakub Voracek

1996: Oskar Lindblom

2000: Adam Boqvist


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