Saturday, June 13, 2009

1976-77 Cleveland Barons Gilles Meloche Jersey

On this date in 1978, the Cleveland Barons ceased to exist. The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow the Barons to merge with the Minnesota North Stars.

Having started life as the California Seals in 1967, the Seals moved to Cleveland in time for the 1976-77 season. There they played in the Richfield Coliseum, giving them the largest seating capacity in the NHL at the time of 18,544 but they would never come close to filling it in the two years they played in Cleveland. Their 1976 home opener drew only 8,900 fans and they attracted 10,000 at only seven out of 40 home games.

After the first season in Cleveland, majority owner Melvin Swig sold his interest in the team to brothers George and Gordon Gund. They tried to put a more competitive team on the ice the second year, beating defending champions the Montreal Canadiens in November and the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres in consecutive games in January. They also set an attendance record of 13,110 vs. Philadelphia that year, but a 15 game losing streak eliminated them from playoff contention and a lower season point total than the year before.

After the season the Gunds tried to buy the Coliseum, but failed. On this date in 1978, the league granted approval for the Barons to merge with the Minnesota North Stars under the Gunds ownership. The team would retain the North Stars name, but take the Barons place in the Adams Division. The Barons remain the last franchise in the four major North American sports leagues to cease operations. I would take 22 years before the NHL would return to Ohio in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Gilles Meloche Cleveland Barons jersey. Made by ProJoy, their jerseys are not our favorites, having been produced at a time when replicas were less than accurate. While this jersey has it's issues, like the sleeve stripes being straight instead of angled, the crest is surprisingly well made, with each piece being a separate piece of fabric sewn together. The Gothic "B" in the state of Ohio in the center of the main logo is five separate layers of fabric and both the curved "Cleveland" and "Barons" names are each intricate single pieces of twill sewn onto the "C"!

What sets the 76-77 jerseys apart from the 77-78 jerseys is the wonderful State of Ohio patches on the sleeves for the numbers. The other difference between the 76-77 jerseys and the 77-78's, was that the first year jerseys did not have the names on the back of the road jerseys.

But then, as is part of the fun of jersey collecting, a mystery presented itself in the form of this picture...

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A name on the back of a Barons road jersey with the State of Ohio sleeve patches? That didn't add up, so we posted the photo and questioned wether it was perhaps from a pre-season game before the 77-78 season on the forums at GameWorn.net.

The key to the mystery was that the Barons are shown playing the St. Louis Blues, whom they played twice that season. Once on February 28th, a Monday, and again on April 2nd, a Saturday, and a national TV hockey day. What the Barons had done was add names to the back of the jerseys, due to the fact their game was going to be shown on national TV, and then removed after the game, as the teams did back then. It still seems strange to me that they would go to the trouble of adding the names, only to then go to even more trouble to take them off again. It certainly would have been easier to leave the names on once they were there.

Armed with that unique story, we had our jersey customized as it was worn on April 2nd, 1977, complete with the State of Ohio patches and the name on the back, or as it's commonly abbreviated, "NOB". We just love being able to say that our jersey was worn on one specific date, generally through the addition of a unique patch, a trend that will no doubt become apparent on this blog over time.

1976-77 Cleveland Barons jersey
Cleveland Barons 76-77 B

Notice how the font for the sleeve numbers and the back numbers don't match? Well take a look at this photo of Dennis Maruk, particularly the "2" on the sleeve. His has the serif on the bottom right end of the 2 that Meloche's doesn't.

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Another fun inconsistency with the older jerseys you often find. Even teammates jerseys worn in the same year would have subtle, and not so subtle, differences.

An interesting fact about Meloche was that he played for the California Golden Seals from 1971-72, to 1975-76, the Cleveland Barons in both 1976-77 and 1977-78 and then the Minnesota North Stars from 1978-79 to the 1984-85 season, 14 seasons in all, without once having ever being traded or signing any sort of a free agent contract as the Seals relocated to Cleveland and the Barons merged with the North Stars. We doubt if any player ever had so much discontinuity in such a continuous career!


Dasherboard: We must admit we did not expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena last night, and certainly didn't expect them to do it with Sidney Crosby out for more than half the game.

Maxim Talbot scored a pair of second period goals, the first off a Brad Stuart clearing attempt that deflected off Evgeni Malkin's skate right to Talbot just to the side of the net for a lightning quick goal for a 1-0 Penguins lead just 1:13 into the period.

After the Penguins lost Crosby for essentially the rest of the night, Talbot broke in on a 2 on 1 with Tyler Kennedy and snapped a shot over the glove of Chris Osgood for a 2 goal Penguins lead at 10:07.

In the third period, Jonathan Ericsson scored from the point after some sustained Detroit pressure to cut the lead to one with 6:07 remaining, setting up a tense finish. Pittsburgh maintained their composure and stayed out of the penalty box for the remainder of the game. The Red Wings managed to ding one off the crossbar late in the game on a shot by Niklas Kronwall with 2:14 remaing, but the bounces that were so much against Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 1 went his way in Game 7 as the puck stayed out.

The final few seconds provided as much drama as you could hope for when Detroit won the final faceoff and got the puck back to the point. Fleury made the save but gave up a huge rebound that Niklas Lidstrom pounced on, but Fleury dove across his crease to intercept the shot as Lidstrom could not raise it over the diving Fleury as the clock ticked down the final seconds.

Evgeni Malkin was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy and had an assist in the game on Talbot's first goal.

The Penguins were the first team to win Game 7 on the road since the Montreal Canadiens in 1971.

Dan Bylsma became the second coach to win the Stanley Cup after taking over a team midseason. After being named coach he led them to a 18-3-4 record to make the playoffs and now the Stanley Cup.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, that was some game last night. They didn't need Crosby, because everyone on the Pens was playing great defense. The Wings had a hard time getting the puck towards the net. Whether it was Pens clogging up the slots and pushing oncoming Wings to the corners, or blocking a lot of shots before they even got to Fleury. Just an amazing effort on their part.

    As for the Barons jersey, we discussed this via PM's at CCSLC five years ago. I have a blank one, and had a guy willing to make it up for me (the guy I bought a majority of my jerseys from), but at the time we couldn't come up with a clear picture of the numbers on the sleeve. That picture of Maruk is great! I think I am going to have to go back to that guy, or find someone to do that for me.

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    1. Actually the Barons did use the name on the back on their road jerseys, l have the only one known to date in the hobby, a Jim Neilson captain jersey with "C"removed. If you want pics or more info contact me at 2ppcli1994@hotmail.ca or check my game worn Barons jerseys on webshots

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