THIS DATE IN HISTORY: July 31
2000: Martin St. Louis, an unheralded 25-year-old forward, signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Calgary Flames use St. Louis mostly as a checker for two seasons, during which he has 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 69 games. Given a more offensive role in Tampa Bay, St. Louis blows past those numbers in his first season with the Lightning, becomes a 30-goal scorer in 2002-03 and wins the Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay trophies in 2003-04, when he helps the Lightning win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.
St. Louis has NHL career highs of 43 goals and 102 points in 2006-07 and wins another scoring title in 2012-13 with 60 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened season. The Lightning trade him to the New York Rangers late in 2013-14, and he plays a key role in their run to the 2014 Cup Final, where they lose in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. St. Louis retires one year later with 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) in 1,134 NHL regular-season games.
1913: Forward Bryan Hextall Sr. is born in Grenfell, Saskatchewan. Hextall plays nine full seasons (plus three games each in 1936-37 and 1945-46) with the Rangers, scoring 20 goals in seven of them. His overtime goal in Game 6 of the 1940 Final gives the Rangers the third Stanley Cup title in their history; they don't win again until 1994. Hextall also leads the NHL in scoring in 1941-42, something no Rangers player has accomplished since. He finishes with 362 points (187 goals, 175 assists) in 449 NHL regular-season games, and is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.
He's also the first of three generations of Hextalls in the NHL; sons Dennis and Bryan each play more than 500 games, and grandson Ron, a goaltender, wins the Calder and Conn Smythe trophies with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987. Ron finishes his playing career in 1999 with 296 victories and is now the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.
1960: Center Dale Hunter is born in Petrolia, Ontario. Hunter spends seven seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, who select him in the second round (No. 41) of the 1979 NHL Draft before trading him to the Washington Capitals on June 13, 1987. He spends all but the final 12 games of the remainder of his career with the Capitals; Hunter is traded to the Colorado Avalanche on March 23, 1999. He finishes his NHL career with 1,020 points (323 goals, 697 assists) and 3,565 penalty minutes in 1,407 regular-season games. Hunter is the only player in League history with more than 1,000 points and 3,000 penalty minutes.
1986: Center Evgeni Malkin is born in Magnitogorsk, Russia. Malkin is chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 2 pick of the 2004 draft and won the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie after he had 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 2006-07. He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion (2009, 2016, 2017), has twice led the NHL in scoring (2008-09, 2011-12) and won the Hart Trophy as League MVP (2011-12).