THIS DATE IN HISTORY: July 7
1989: The New Jersey Devils introduce their two newest players, Soviet defensemen Viacheslav Fetisov and Sergei Starikov, at a news conference.
Fetisov, one of the best defensemen in hockey history and a 1983 draft pick by New Jersey, spent a long time lobbying Soviet authorities for permission to play in North America.
Originally, the Devils pursue only Fetisov, but after being told that Starikov is also interested in coming, they obtain his negotiation rights as well. Following lengthy negotiations, each player signs a three-year contract and is allowed to leave, rather than defect; this permits them to play for the Soviet Union in international events.
The newcomers open the way for a flow of Soviet players into the NHL, though Starikov plays only 16 games with New Jersey. Among the early arrivals are Fetisov's defense partner Alexei Kasatonov, who plays four seasons and 257 games with the Devils.
Fetisov spends five seasons with the Devils before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings early in the 1994-95 season. He is part of Detroit's Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1997 and 1998.
1969: Center Joe Sakic, the greatest player in the history of the Colorado Avalanche franchise, is born in Burnaby, British Columbia. The Quebec Nordiques take Sakic with the No. 15 pick in the 1987 NHL Draft. He's an NHL regular two seasons later and is named captain in 1992. After the Nordiques move to Denver in the summer of 1995, Sakic helps the renamed Avalanche to the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history the following spring, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He helps Colorado win again in 2001 after a 118-point regular season that earns him the Hart, Pearson and Lady Byng trophies.
Sakic spends his entire NHL career with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise, finishing with 1,641 points (625 goals, 1,016 assists) in 1,378 games. He's elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
Video: Joe Sakic captained Avalanche to two Stanley Cup wins
2004: The Avalanche hire Joel Quenneville as their new coach, replacing Tony Granato, who remains as an assistant. The Avalanche finish with 95 points in each of Quenneville's three seasons, but win two series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and never get past the second round before Quenneville leaves on May 9, 2008. Quenneville joins the Chicago Blackhawks as a pro scout four months later and replaces Denis Savard as coach on Oct. 16, 2008.