THIS DATE IN HISTORY: July 1
2015: The Pittsburgh Penguins make the first key move that will culminate in back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017 by acquiring forward Phil Kessel in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer, is deemed available by the Maple Leafs after dropping from 80 points (37 goals, 43 assists) in 2013-14 to 61 points (25 goals, 36 assists) and a minus-34 rating in 2014-15. He finds a home late in the season on a line with left wing Carl Hagelin and center Nick Bonino; the "HBK Line" helps the Penguins surge to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division before defeating the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks to win the Cup for the fourth time in their history, then plays a key role in their run to a second straight championship in 2017.
Kessel leads Pittsburgh in goals (10) and points (22) in the 2016 postseason. He has more points (23) in 2017 but finishes third in scoring behind teammates Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
1941: Rod Gilbert, the Rangers' all-time leading scorer, is born in Montreal. In his 18 seasons in New York, Gilbert sets franchise records for goals (406) and points (1,021) despite numerous back injuries, one of which causes him to have a spinal fusion. Gilbert is the right wing on the "GAG Line" of the early 1970s, along with left wing Vic Hadfield and center (and longtime friend) Jean Ratelle.
1967: Construction begins on the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., which will serve as the future home of the Los Angeles Kings when it opens six months later. The Kings, in their first NHL season, play at the Long Beach Arena until their new home is ready.
1995: The deal to relocate the Quebec Nordiques to Denver becomes official; the team will become known as the Colorado Avalanche. The move comes 13 years after the Colorado Rockies leave Denver to play in New Jersey. After finishing first in the Eastern Conference in their final season in Quebec, the newly named Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in their first season in Denver.