Thursday, July 7, 2011
July by the Numbers checks in at #7 with a striking jersey from the World Hockey Association.
The Cincinnati Stingers were granted their franchise on May 6, 1973 but had to wait until their new home arena, the Riverfront Coliseum, was constructed before they could begin play in the 1975-76 season. The team took part in the WHA drafts while they waited for the arena to be ready, drafting Dean Talafous of Wisconsin with their first pick, and loaning out Dennis Sobchuk and John Hughes to the Phoenix Roadrunners to keep them active.
Once they had a completed home, they reclaimed their players and set out to fill their roster. They were led in scoring their first season by former Buffalo Sabre Rick Dudley, who led the team with 43 goals and 81 points in 74 games. They club finished with a respectable 35-44-1 record and only missed out on the playoffs by 2 points. Their 71 points were 12 more than the Edmonton Oilers, who somehow managed to qualify for the postseason thanks to a quirk in the always off-beat WHA!
The 1975-76 Cincinnati Stingers
Rich Leduc's 107 and Blaine Stoughton's 104 points led the Stinger attack in 1976-77 with Sobchuk right behind with 96 to place 7th, 9th and 10th in the WHA scoring race. Both Leduc and Stoughton netted 52 goals, fourth best in the league. The club finished in second place in the Eastern Conference with a team record 83 points, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That season also saw the debut of future coach and TV commentator Barry Melrose on defense. Following the season a proposed WHA merger with the NHL that would have included the Stingers was defeated by a single vote.
The 1977-78 season saw one of the more unusual jersey related occurrences in hockey history when Robbie Ftorek joined the club after the demise of the Roadrunners. Current team veteran Claude Larose had worn #8 for the past two seasons and Ftorek had also been wearing #8 as a tribute to former Boston Bruin Fleming Mackell. Neither wanted to relinquish their favorite number, so they had the team petition the league and permission was granted for both players to wear #8 during the season!
Ftorek went on to lead the club in scoring by a wide margin with 109 points, well clear of Dudley's 71. Ftorek's 59 goals were third overall in the WHA. In the standings, the Stingers finished seventh in the one-division now shrinking WHA, two points out of the playoffs.
The 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers
Ftorek again led the team in points in 1978-79 with 116, while Peter Marsh was tops in goal scoring with 43. New, and notable additions to the Stingers roster included goalie Mike Liut, future 700 goal scorer Mike Gartner and eventual six-time Stanley Cup winner Mark Messier, who failed to impress with one goal in 47 games. Three seasons later he would score 50 for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.
Goaltender Mike Liut
The Stingers were eliminated from the playoffs in Round 1, two games to one by the New England Whalers, but not before winning their one and only playoff game in team history 6-3 at home in Game 2.
Following the season, the WHA agreed to a one-sided merger plan with the NHL, which allowed Winnipeg, New England, Quebec and Edmonton to join the NHL as expansion franchises, while the owners of both Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls were given a cash payment of $3.15 million as a buy-out, putting an end to the Stingers franchise after just four years on the ice.
Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Cincinnati Stingers Bryan Campbell jersey. With the Stingers name lending itself to a multi-stripe theme, it's a wonder the Stingers jerseys were as reserved as they were.
The Stingers logo is a wonderful piece of graphic design and looks as modern today as it did when it was first conceived and has always been one of our favorites.
Our first video is a profile of former Stinger Blaine Stoughton.
Here is amateur footage of the minor league Cincinnati Clyclones playing while wearing Stingers throwback jerseys.