Saturday, July 23, 2011
July by the Numbers makes it's way to the Western United States for jersey #23.
While the Salt Lake Golden Eagles franchise had a stable run which spanned parts of four decades, the leagues the team was a member of changed with periodic regularity. The team was founded in 1969 as a member of the Western Hockey League. Two rough seasons as an expansion team followed with less than 20 wins. Still, their win totals increased every year for their first four seasons as members of the WHL.
For the 1974-75 season, the 22 year run of the WHL came to an end and the Golden Eagles joined the Central Hockey League and immediately finished first overall with a 43-24-11 record and won the Adams Cup by defeating the Dallas Black Hawks in overtime of Game 7 of the finals.
The Golden Eagles Doug Palazzari led the CHL in scoring in 1977-78 when he racked up 101 points in 70 games. The following season Salt Lake would finish first overall with a 47-22-7 mark and reach the finals once more.
In 1979-80 Salt Lake would again finish atop the league with 105 points after a 49-24-7 record with Palazzri having a career year after leading the CHL in goals (48), assists (61) and points with 109, 26 clear of his next closest competition. The Golden Eagles would capture their second Adams Cup by edging out the Fort Worth Texans 2-1 in Game 7 of the finals.
The Golden Eagles would win back-to-back titles following their success in 1980-81. Future NHL 500 goal scorer Joe Mullen led the league with 117 points that season and Salt Lake downed the Wichita Wind with the final series once again going the full seven games to determine the champion.
Joe Mullen accepts the CHL Rookie of the Year Award
After three more seasons without a losing record, the Golden Eagles once again outlived their league, as the CHL called it a day following the 1983-84 season. The Golden Eagles, along with the Indianapolis Checkers, chose to press on and found a home in the International Hockey League, a step up the ladder from the CHL.
While the team finished a few games under .500, Scott MacLeod led the IHL with 139 points in 82 games. The prolific MacLeod once again took the league scoring title in 1985-86, this time with 134 points.
Despite finishing with the fifth best record in the league in 1986-87, the Golden Eagles ousted the Milwaukee Admirals in Round 1 of the playoffs in six games and then knocked off the Fort Wayne Komets in five to reach the finals. There, they defeated the Muskegon Lumberjacks in six to capture the IHL's Turner Cup as Mike Rucinski's 27 playoff points in 17 games led the way.
The 1987-88 season was a virtual repeat of the previous season as the Golden Eagles finished with the sixth overall record but marched through three rounds of the playoffs, taking advantage of the top two favorites being upset in the opening round, to win their second consecutive Turner Cup in only their fourth season in the IHL.
The Golden Eagles reached the finals for the third consecutive season in 1988-89 following a franchise record, regardless of league, 116 point season after a 56-22-4 record.
Two seasons later Salt Lake again had a 50 win season in 1990-91 and were led in scoring by Rich Chenomaz for the third time in four years on his way to becoming the franchise's leading scorer during it's time in the IHL, as his 501 points easily lead MacLeod's 273.
Chenomaz, flanked by Palazzari and Lyle Bradley after Chenomaz set the all-time Golden Eagles scoring mark
The Golden Eagles fortunes took a downward turn, finishing with losing records the next three seasons, including missing the playoffs for the final two. Following their last place finish in 1993-94 after only 24 wins, the franchise was sold to interests from Detroit, who moved the team to Michigan and renamed it the Detroit Vipers for the 1994-95 season, bringing an end to the Golden Eagles after 25 seasons and five championships.
Notable players for the Golden Eagles throughout their history include Ernie Hicke and Wayne Rutledge from the WHL era, Jim Craig, Dirk Graham, Walt McKechnie, Mullen, Barclay Plager and Charlie Simmer from the CHL days and Derek Armstrong, Marc Bureau, Shane Churla, Theo Fleury, Stu Grimson, Trevor Kidd, Stephane Matteau, Jamie McLennan and Ziggy Palffy from the IHL days.
Future NHL enforcer Stu Grimson while with Salt Lake
Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Salt Lake Golden Eagles Art Quoquochi jersey from the very first season in franchise history. This jersey has several unique design elements, some of which were ahead of their time. While the twin stripes running down the arms are uncommon, the large blue cuffs are rather unique.
Other features that were ahead of it's time were the gold squares across the bottom rather than a single, solid stripe, and the vertical stripes up the sides would come into vogue in 2006 with the introduction of the Nike Swift jerseys as well as the Reebok Edge jerseys when they debuted in 2007.
All in all, a jersey that stands apart from the pack and holds up rather well over time.
Today's video highlight is some rare 8mm movie footage of the Golden Eagles taking on the San Diego Gulls from back in 1972.