Tuesday, November 22, 2011
After graduating from the Edmonton Oil Kings of Canadian junior hockey, Bert Marshall, born on this date in 1943, spent the 1964-65 season with the Memphis Wings of the Central Hockey League. A defensive defenseman, Marshall moved up to the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings for the 1965-66 season, scoring 19 assists as a rookie and capped off his season with an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. During the playoffs, Marshall added 3 more assists, as well as his first goal in an NHL uniform.
The following season Marshall played another 57 games with Detroit and a dozen in the American Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Hornets, the last games he would play in the minor leagues. Almost.
The following season, 1967-68, was one of change for the NHL, as six new franchises began play that season, which led to any number of player moves never before seen in the NHL, one of which was Marshall. He began the season with Detroit, playing 37 games, which included his first ever NHL regular season goal. With Detroit sputtering along towards what would be a next to last place finish, he was traded, along with Ted Hampson, to the Oakland Seals, who had actually began play that season as the California Seals but changed their name in December of 1967 prior to Marshall's arrival in early January.
Marshall became a mainstay for the Seals, who otherwise lacked stability during his six seasons in Oakland, which included a complete roster turnover by his fifth season as well as a third different name for the team, a result of it's third different owner in it's fourth season. In fact, the Seals original owner sold the club once, only to have the group file for bankruptcy and the ownership revert back to the original one before another sale to Charlie O. Finley, the man responsible for the not only the third name change, but a whole new color scheme, which included the now "Golden" Seals wearing the notorious white skates to match Finley's Oakland Athletics baseball club.
The Golden Seals infamous white skates
In Marshall's six seasons with the club, which provided him the opportunity to participate in only 11 playoff games in all, he would provide rugged defense and a nominal amount of assists, with a high of 18 points in 1968-69. After the endless upheaval of life with the Seals, Marshall was sent to one of the established Original 6 clubs, the New York Rangers late in the 1972-73 season despite having been named team captain that year. The problem was, despite going from a franchise in turmoil to a franchise based in tradition, Marshall's time with the Rangers was all to brief, at just eight games, as he was claimed by the New York Islanders in the intra-league draft for the Islanders second season at the bottom of the standings looking up, as the Islanders finished a full 72 points behind the Rangers the previous season.
Marshall once again fulfilled the same role as a rock on defense for the young franchise, as he would play six seasons with the Islanders, as they continued to add to their roster and climb from 56 points in 1973-74 to 88 the next season before reeling off four consecutive seasons of more than 100 points, as well as an increase in points each season which finally topped out at 116 in 1978-79, a long way from six seasons in Oakland which never reached even 70 and three times totaled less than 50 with a low of just 45.
The unlucky Marshall would reach the third round of the playoffs four times with the Islanders, yet never appear in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to have the team begin their dynasty of four consecutive championships the year after he left the club, thanks in part to his veteran presence grooming the young future superstars on the Islanders roster.
And what of Marshall not quite being done playing in the minors? The year after concluding his NHL career with the Islanders half way through the 1978-79 season to become an assistant coach with the club, Marshall became the head coach of the Indianapolis Checkers of the CHL for the 1979-80 season, which included inserting himself into the lineup for six games that season to close out his playing career, his first minor league games in 14 years.
In all, Marshall would play 14 NHL seasons and appear in 868 games. He would also contribute 198 points, including chipping in 30 points for a career high in 1974-75.
Today's featured jersey is a 1967-68 Oakland Seals Bert Marshall jersey. The Seals originally had a "C" surrounding the seal in the logo, but this was removed and replaced by a new version of the main crest with the circle now completed to form an "O" following the club's name change in December of their first season. This sweater would be used for a season and a half until a new version arrived for the 1969-70 season.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1970-71 California Golden Seals Bert Marshall jersey, which arrived on the scene along with new owner Charlie O. Finley, who changed the club's low contrast original colors of kelly green and royal blue to match those of his Oakland Athletics baseball club, kelly green and California gold.
He thankfully chose the bold Seals wordmark to replace the overly busy, overly stylized original Seals crest, one of the worst in NHL history, as the seal looked more like an insect or a crawfish than a Seal! Of course, their was a price to pay for the upgrade in logo, that being the new jerseys were paired with white skates. This jersey would be used for three seasons before the lace-up collar changed to a v-neck for one final season of this color scheme before yet another new set of colors for the doomed franchise's final two years in California.
Today's video section takes a look at the history of the Seals franchise. Be sure to notice the photo early in the video showing their original prototype jerseys with "Seals" above the original logo which never saw the ice.