July 2 NHL History
1979: Joe Thornton is born in London, Ontario. He becomes the first player taken (by the Boston Bruins) in the 1997 NHL Draft but blossoms after being traded to the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005. Thornton finishes the 2005-06 season with a League-leading 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists), making him the first player to win the scoring title playing for two teams. His 1,391 NHL regular-season points (384 goals, 1,007 assists) through 2016-17 are tied for 22nd all-time with Brett Hull and second among active players (Jaromir Jagr, 1,914). He helps the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their 25-year history in 2016, though they lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
1997: The Dallas Stars, coming off a division title, sign free agent goaltender Ed Belfour. He makes an immediate impact, going 37-12-10 with a 1.88 goals-against average in his first season in Dallas and helping the Stars win the Presidents’ Trophy and reach the Western Conference Final. He’s even better in his second season; the Stars repeat as Presidents’ Trophy winners and go on to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
2002: Exactly five years after signing with Dallas, Belfour joins the Toronto Maple Leafs, again as a free agent. He plays three seasons with Toronto, where he earns his 400th NHL victory and later gets his 448th win to move into second place behind Patrick Roy on the NHL’s all-time list. Belfour ties a Stanley Cup Playoff record in 2004 when he has three shutouts in one playoff series and finishes 93-61-15 with Toronto.
2011: The New York Rangers sign center Brad Richards to a nine-year contract. Richards, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, lasts three seasons with the Rangers, scoring 56 goals and finishing with 151 points.