Saturday, April 9, 2016

2008-09 Quinnipiac Bobcats Bryan Leitch Jersey

The championship final of the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four will take place tonight at the home of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, the Amalie Arena.

Frozen Four 2016_logo photo Frozen Four 2016_logo.jpg

The tournament semifinals saw the #1 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC defeat the #4 Boston College Eagles of Hockey East by a score of 3-2.

The second semifinal had the #2 University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference taking on #5 ranked Denver University Pioneers, also of the powerful NCHC. The After a scoreless first period, the Fighting Hawks looked to be in command after a pair of second period goals.

The Pioneers were not finished however, getting back in the game with a goal less than 3 minutes into the third period. They tied the game at 10:51 and the battle was on. Just when everyone was preparing for overtime, Nick Schmaltz buried a rebound to give the Fighting Hawks a 3-2 lead with 57 seconds remaining. Rhett Garnder then scored the longest empty net goal in hockey history, shooting the puck from behind his own net off the boards to the left of his own net, which then deflected down the ice, crossing the goal line at an absolute crawl to make the final score 4-2 with just two clicks left on the clock to advance to face Quinnipiac in tonight's championship final

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Quinnipiac will be making only their second appearance in the championship game, the first coming in 2013, an eventual 4-0 loss to rival Yale, located a mere 10 miles away in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Quinnipiac University Braves hockey program was elevated to varsity status for the 1975-76 season when they played first in Division II as an independent. They continued in Division II until 1998-99 when they moved up to Division I and joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Their move to the MAAC was immediately successful, as they won the conference regular season title their first time out in 1998-99 and again in 1999-00. They also won the MAAC conference tournament title in 2002 with a 6-4 win over Mercyhurst, earning them their first NCAA tournament appearance.

The MAAC evolved into the Atlantic Hockey conference in 2003-04 and Quinnipiac won the regular season title in 2004-05 and went on to win the conference tournament championship as well.

Changes were in store for the 2005-06 season when the Braves changed their name to the Quinnipiac Bobcats and moved to the ECAC to replace the departed Vermont, where they found the going rough for their first seven seasons until winning the conference regular season title in 2012-13 followed by the tournament championship that same season, which earned them the first of now four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. That season also earned the Bobcats their first ever number one ranking in the country on February 11, 2013 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today polls. They entered the 2013 playoffs as the number one seed overall and won the East Regional to advance to their first Frozen Four, where they defeated St. Cloud State 4-1 to earn their spot in the final against Yale.

2012-13 Quinnipiac Bobcats team photo 2012-13 Quinnipiac Bobcats team.png
The national runner up, the 2012-13 Quinnipiac Bobcats

They repeated the double of winning the regular season title and conference tournament in 2014-15 and again this season with a 16-1-5 conference record and a 32-3-7 mark overall to earn the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats won the East Regional in Albany, New York, where they shut out #16 seed RochesterInstitue of Technology 4-0 and then defeated UMass Lowell 4-1 to advance to this year's Frozen Four, where they eliminated the Boston College Eagles 3-2 to earn place in today's national championship game against North Dakota, where they will seek their first title.

To date, Bryce Van Brabant is the only Bobcat to ever play in the NHL when he played six games for the Calgary Flames during the 2013-14 season.

Bryce Van Brabant photo Bryce Van Brabant.jpg
The first Quinnipiac Bobcat to play in the NHL, Bryce Van Brabant

Chris Cerrella holds the school record with 205 career points, just edging Todd Johnson's 204 while no one else has more than 170. Cerrella also leads the Bobcats in career goals scored with 99 and Reid Cashman ranks first in career assists with 125 for Quinnipiac.

Chris Cerrella photo Chris Cerrella.jpg
Chris Cerella holds the Bobcats career scoring record

The Bobcats have won the MAAC regular season title twice, the MAAC tournament championship once, the Atlantic Hockey regular season title and the Atlantic Hockey tournament once each and, since changing leagues, the ECAC regular season and tournament championship both in the same season three times as well as having made five NCAA tournaments and two four Frozen Four appearances to date.

Quinnipiac Bobcats 2016 Cleary Cup photo Quinnipiac Bobcats 2016 Cleary Cup.jpg
The Bobcats celebrate their 2016 ECAC
Tournament Clearly Cup championship

Today's featured jersey is a 2008-09 Quinnipiac Bobcats Bryan Leitch jersey. This jersey is a special one night only "Pink the Rink" jersey worn to raise cancer awareness.

Leitch was the NCAA leading scorer in 2008-09 with 12 goals and 47 assists for 59 points in 39 games and is third all-time in career scoring for the Bobcats.  

Quinnipiac Bobcats 2008-09 B PTR jersey photo Quinnipiac Bobcats 2008-09 F PTR jersey.jpg
Quinnipiac Bobcats 2008-09 B PTR jersey photo Quinnipiac Bobcats 2008-09 B PTR jersey.jpg
jersey from the CalderCup2000 collection

To see more Quinnipiac Bobcats jerseys, please check out CalderCup2000.com.

Today's video section is a look at the excitement on campus caused by the Bobcats making it to this year's Frozen Four.

Friday, April 8, 2016

1981-82 New York Rangers Mikko Leinonen Jersey

Finnish center Mikko Leinonen began his career with Tappara Tampere with a bang, scoring 26 goals and 39 points in 35 games during the 1973-74 season as an 18 year old. He also made his international debut for Finland at the 1974 World Junior Tournament with 4 goals in 5 games.

After scoring 28 points in 34 games, as well as playing in his second World Juniors, during the 1974-75 season, he raised his game to the next level as he put together back-to-back 23 goal 47 point seasons in 1975-76 and 1976-77 while playing first 36 games followed by 33 to average well over a point per game both seasons.

For the 1977-78 season, Leinonen joined MoDo AIK Omskoldvisk in Sweden's Elitserien and did not miss a beat with a 19 goal, 44 point season in 36 games to lead the team in scoring. He also made his senior international debut for Finland at the 1978 World Championships.

Leinonen played one more season with MoDo in 1978-79, winning the league championship. He also competed in the 1979 Worlds before returning to Finland for the 1979-80 season when he joined Karpat Oulu in Finland's SM-liiga. He immediately set career highs in goals and points with 32 goals and 52 points to lead Karpat in scoring. That season he also participated in the 1980 Olympic Games for Finland, where he had a fine showing with 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games to finish second in team scoring by a single point.

He put up an identical 52 points in for Karpat in 1980-81 only this time from 16 goals and a career high 36 assists. He would play in his fourth World Championships in 1981 with 8 points in 8 games.

Later that fall, Leinonen would be a member of the Finnish team for the 1981 Canada Cup tournament. During the tournament, Leinonen signed to play in the NHL with the New York Rangers for the upcoming 1981-82 season. He would play 6 games with the Springfield Indians, scoring 4 goals, but the majority of his season was with New York, seeing action in 53 games, scoring 11 goals and 20 assists as an NHL rookie.

Leinonen Rangers photo Leinonen Rangers.jpg

The Rangers qualified for the playoffs that season and drew the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round. The Flyers won Game 1 easily 4-1 in Manhattan. Game 2, on this date in 1982 was also in New York and it didn't take long for Bobby Clarke to open the scoring for the Flyers just 48 seconds into the contest. The Rangers replied just 1:09 later when Carol Vadnais scored with an assist from Leinonen and Rob McClanahan. The Rangers added a second goal by Ron Dugay to take a 2-1 lead at the 13:47 mark of the first period.

The Rangers added to their lead when Don Maloney scored at 6:17 on a power play from Leinonen and winger Ed Johnstone. Another power play goal by Robbie Ftorek from Johnstone and Leinonen pushed the Rangers lead to 4-1. Ray Allison replied for Philadelphia, but Dave Silk restored the three goal New York lead with 1:10 left in the second period from McClanahan and Leinonen to make it 5-2 after two periods.

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McClanahan then scored at 4:31 of the third from Silk and Leinonen. With time winding down, Johnstone scored the seventh Rangers goal at 17:03 on a power play with assists from Leinonen and Silk to give Leinonen a record 6 assists in a single playoff game. Ken Linseman added a goal for the Flyers with just 33 seconds left in the game to make the final score 7-3 for the Rangers.

Leinonen's record still stands to this day, equaled only by Wayne Gretzky five years and a day later in 1987. Oddly, Leinonen would play in 6 other playoff games that season without recording ånother assist!

Leinonen Rangers photo Leinonen RB card.jpg

Leinonen would play a full season with New York in 1982-83, playing in 78 games while scoring 17 goals and coming just one point short of his career high when he totaled 51 points, good for sixth on the Rangers, easily the finest of his time in the NHL.

Leinonen Rangers photo Leinonen Rangers 2.jpg

His 1983-84 season was split between the Rangers, scoring 3 goals and 23 assists for 26 points in 28 games, but he also was with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League for 33 games where he average more than a point per game with 15 goals and 38 points. Tulsa would go on to win the Adams Cup as league champions.

He returned to Finland and rejoined Oulu for the following 1984-85 season, once again operating near the point per game average with 34 in 35 games. At the conclusion of the Finnish season, Leinonen briefly returned to the NHL when he played in three regular season games and one playoff game with the Washington Capitals.

When the 1985-86 season began, Leinonen was back again with Karpat for one final season, scoring 23 points in 36 games. He would have one final, abbreviated season in 1986-87 for KalPa Kuopio in Finland, playing in just 8 regular season games and 6 playoff contests before retiring as a player.

Leinonen Finland photo Leinonen Finland.jpg

His final NHL totals were 162 games, 31 goals and 78 assists for 109 points as well as 20 playoff games, 2 goals and 11 assists, 6 of which came on his record setting night on this day in 1982. Leinonen would also play in two World Juniors, four World Championships, one Olympics and one Canada Cup. In 1995, Leinonen was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame.

Leinonen Auto photo Mikko Leinonen autograph.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 New York Rangers Mikko Leinonen jersey as worn the night he set an NHL record for Most Assists in a Playoff Game. The Rangers had changed to a short lived, modern jersey with their shield crest for two seasons in 1976-77 and 1977-78 before reverting to their classic, diagonally lettered look for the 1978-79 season. This version with the names straight across the back would remain in use through the 1989-90 season until being replaced by vertically arched names for the 1990-91 season.

New York Rangers 1981-82 jersey photo New York Rangers 1981-82 jersey.jpg

In today's video segment, highlights of Leinonen's record setting six assist night during the 1982 Stanley Cup playoffs.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

1974-75 New York Islanders Clark Gillies Jersey

Born on this date in 1954, Clark Gillies was drafted 4th overall by the Islanders in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft after he helped the Regina Pats win the Memorial Cup. Gillies was also drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, who were still playing in the WHA at the time, but chose to sign with the Islanders, a "can't miss" decision that would seemingly have resulted in multiple Stanley Cups either way! We should all have such choices forced upon us.

1973-74 Regina Pats team, 1973-74 Regina Pats team
The Memorial Cup champion 1973-74 Regina Pats

He would make the Islanders roster in his first training camp and complete his 14-year career without ever playing a single game in the minors. In his first season he would score 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points, but was more than just a goal scorer, bringing an element of toughness to his game that made him valuable beyond just offensive statistics.

Playing on a line with Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, Gillies would score over 30 goals in six of the next seven seasons, aided by his durability, as he would skate in at least 70 games in each of his first ten seasons with the Islanders.

gillies-trottier-bossy, gillies-trottier-bossy
Gillies, Trottier and Bossy

During his fourth season with the Islanders, 1977-78, Gillies was named team captain, a position he would hold for two seasons.

1979-80 would see the Islanders frequent long playoff runs pay off and the Islanders would win the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups. Gillies would contribute 16 points in 21 games in 1980.

15 points in 18 playoff games in 1981 helped the Islanders win their second Stanley Cup and was followed by an almost identical 14 points in 19 games and a third consecutive championship.

Gilles Cup, Gilles Cup
Gillies in what would become a familiar pose, hoisting the Stanley Cup

The forth Stanley Cup of the Islanders dynasty came in 1983 and Gillies would compete in only 8 playoff games that season, registering but two assists.

The following season saw a drop in his production during the regular season, with just 12 goals in 76 games and less than 30 points on the season, his first time under 40 points in 10 seasons, but a strong rebound in the playoffs, leading all scorers with 19 points in 21 games.

The next two seasons with the Islanders saw unmistakable declines in games played, goals and points, finally dropping to 4 goals and 14 points in 55 games in 1985-86. As a result, he was left unprotected in the NHL Waiver Draft and was subsequently chosen by the Buffalo Sabres, where he would play the final two seasons of his career.

His final NHL totals were 958 games played, 319 goals, 378 assists and 697 points. He would also total 164 playoff games, the equivalent of two additional seasons, scoring 47 goals and 47 assists for 94 points and four Stanley Cups.

Gillies also played in the 1978 NHL All-Star Game and was on the NHL All-Star Team in the 1979 Challenge Cup and skated for Team Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup.

Gillies Challenge Cup, Gillies Challenge Cup
Gillies barrels through the Soviets during the 1979 Challenge Cup

His annual playoff duties with the Islanders precluded any participation in the annual World Championships held each spring during the NHL playoffs, as Gillies clubs made the playoffs in 13 of his 14 seasons, including every one of his 12 years on Long Island.

Gillies #9 jersey was retired by the Islanders in 1996.

Nassau Coliseum, Nassau Coliseum
Gillies number hanging from the rafters on Long Island

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 New York Islanders Clark Gillies jersey from his rookie season in the NHL. Despite being the 4th overall pick and the Islanders first round draft pick, notice that his name on the back is misspelled!

This is the first style of Islanders jersey, notable for the lace-up collar, and was worn from 1972-73 to 1976-77, although the numbers on the back were orange for the first season and we must question the name even being on the back of an Islanders jersey with the lace up collar, something that we believe should not have appeared until the change to the v-neck collar unless perhaps this jersey was worn for a televised national TV game.

New York Islanders 1974-75 jersey photo New York Islanders 1974-75 F jersey.jpg
New York Islanders 1974-75 jersey photo New York Islanders 1974-75 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978 NHL All-Star Game Clark Gillies jersey from his only All-Star appearance. He was named to the game in 1977, but did not play due to illness.

This jersey style was first used by the All-Stars in 1973 and had a long run by today's standards, as it was used through 1981, except for the 1979 season when the annual NHL All-Star Game was replaced by the 1979 Challenge Cup between the NHL and the Soviet Union.
NHL All-Star 1978 jersey photo NHL All-Star 1978 F jersey.jpg
NHL All-Star 1978 jersey photo NHL All-Star 1978 B jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1981 Canada Cup Clark Gillies jersey from his only international appearance for Canada.

This style was worn by Canada only for the Canada Cup tournaments beginning in 1976 and again in 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, five times in all.
  
Canada 1981 jersey photo Canada 1981 F jersey.jpg
Canada 1981 jersey photo Canada 1981 B jersey.jpg 

Today's video section begins with a tribute to Gillies as he demonstrates his noted toughness and punches his way through the NHL. Not for the squeamish...




Next up,  an interview with Gillies following his playing days with some great insights.


Finally, some post game interviews, including Gillies, following the Islanders clinching the Stanley Cup in 1981. Now can someone explain why Gillies was wearing a #24 jersey?


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

1973-74 New York Islanders Denis Potvin Jersey

Denis Potvin was drafted by the New York Islanders with the first overall selection in the 1973 NHL Entry Draft and the Montreal Canadiens immediately offered New York a package of established players in exchange for him. Thinking long-term, Islanders general manager Bill Torrey turned down the offer, keeping the man who would eventually become the longest serving captain in franchise history.

Following his final season in juniors for the Ottawa 67's when he had 123 points and 232 penalty minutes in just 61 games on defense, Islander fans were expecting much from the rookie, who suffered the pressure from comparisons to Bobby Orr.

Potvin's first campaign saw him immediately establish himself as a NHL caliber player by appearing 77 games, the final one of which was played on this date in 1974 and saw Potvin score a goal and three assists, establishing NHL rookie records for defensemen with 17 goals, 54 assists and 71 points in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars. He also displayed his toughness with 175 penalty minutes, all of which earned him the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year.

Potvin Islanders, Potvin Islanders

In addition to his standout defense, his offensive numbers would continue to climb, when he scored 76 points during his second season followed by a jump to 98 in 1975-76, beginning a run of seven straight seasons of averaging over a point per game, a season that would see him earn the first of three Norris Trophies.

Potvin Islanders, Potvin Islanders

Three seasons later, in 1978-79, he would have the finest offensive season of his career with 31 goals, 70 assists and 101 points, all career highs, and he would win his third Norris Trophy, having also been named the winner in 1978 as well. He was the first defenseman to score 30 goals and 100 points since Orr in 1975.

Potvin Islanders, Potvin Islanders

Still, the best was yet to come for the Islanders and Potvin, who was named team captain in time for the 1979-80 season. Deep playoff runs in the previous five seasons gave the club experience that they put to good use, capturing the Stanley Cup first in 1980 and then earning the "dynasty" tag by repeating the feat three more seasons in a row, all with Potvin as the captain.

Potvin Islanders Cup, Potvin Islanders Cup

All told, Potvin competed in an astounding 34 playoff rounds in ten consecutive seasons while the Islanders were at their peak, the rough equivalent of two additional seasons worth of games, only played at the highest levels of pressure and emotion.

When he retired after the 1987-88 season, he did so as the NHL leader in goals and points by a defenseman.

His final career totals stand at 1,060 games played with 310 goals and 742 assists for 1052 points. He also retired with as the career playoff leader in goals (56), assists (108) and points (164) for a defenseman.

His #5 was retired by the Islanders in 1992, the first Islander to ever have his number retired. Prior to that he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, but perhaps his most enduring legacy might be the "Potvin Sucks!" chants that continue to this day in Madison Square Garden, home of the rival New York Rangers.

Potvin Sucks jersey, Potvin Sucks jersey
A Rangers jersey immortalizing the "Potvin Sucks!" chant

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 New York Islanders Denis Potvin jersey as worn the season he broke the NHL rookie scoring records for goals, assists and points by a defenseman.

The original Islanders jerseys from the previous season had orange numbers, which were changed to white for Potvin's rookie season. This style would remain unchanged until 1977-78 when the white ends of the sleeves were made blue.

The first generation of Islanders jerseys is truly "the jersey that wouldn't die", as the Islanders have tried again and again to redesign their jerseys, first with disastrous results in 1996, before returning with an updated version in 1998. Even after the league wide change to Reebok jerseys in 2007, the Islanders again reintroduced this style as an alternate in 2008, this time with a lace up collar as originally worn in 1972, and then promoted that alternate to again be the team's primary jersey beginning with the 2010-11 season.

New York Islanders 73-74 jersey, New York Islanders 73-74 jersey
New York Islanders 73-74 jersey, New York Islanders 73-74 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1976-77 New York Islanders Denis Potvin jersey. The Islanders debuted with this jersey for the 1972-73 season and wore it for four seasons with the crest trimmed in orange and outlined in blue.

For the 1976-77 season, their white home jerseys were crested with the same version used on their blue road jerseys, which had orange trim outlined in white to better separate the logo from the blue background. The net effect on the white jerseys that season was a simple orange outline to the crest, as the outer white layer simply vanished into the white jerseys.

It's unknown if this was a deliberate, considered choice or perhaps accidentally using road crests by mistake on the home jerseys, but the blue outline returned for the 1977-78 season, making the 1976-77 jerseys easily identifiable by their uniquely colored crests.

New York Islanders 1973-74 jersey photo New York 
Islanders 1973-74 F jersey.jpg
New York Islanders 1973-74 jersey photo New York 
Islanders 1973-74 B jersey.jpg

First today is a profile of Potvin from the fantastic "Legends of Hockey" series. Love him or hate him, this is well worth watching.


Here is the dramatic finish to the Islanders first Stanley Cup Championship in 1980.


Finally the origin of the "Potvin Sucks!" chant.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

1969-70 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr Jersey

On this date in 1970, Bobby Orr had an assist in the final game of the season and became the first, and still only, defenseman in NHL history to lead the league in scoring.

Up to that point in his NHL career, Bobby Orr had already made a huge impact on the NHL. In his Calder Trophy winning rookie season in 1966-67, Orr finished second in scoring for defensemen. One of his many knee injuries the following season limited him to just 46 games, yet he was named the winner of the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the league's best defenseman. 1968-69 saw Orr return to lead all defensemen in scoring for the first time with a new career high of 64 points and captured his second Norris Trophy.

Still, no one was prepared for what lie ahead for Orr and the NHL in 1969-70.

Orr obliterated the single season scoring record for defensemen, Red Kelly's 70 points set back in 1961, when he blitzed the league with 33 goals and 87 assists for 120 points. To put Orr's 120 points in perspective, the Seals Carol Vadnais was second with 44 points - 76 behind Orr.

Even more, such was his dominance that Orr's assist total alone was enough to break the record, but with the addition of his 33 goals, Orr not only led all defensemen in points, but the entire NHL as well, outdistancing teammate and center Phil Esposito by 21 points to win the overall scoring race.

In the playoffs, Orr added an additional 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists in 14 games as the Bruins would capture their first Stanley Cup in 29 years, finished off with Orr's overtime goal in Game 4 of their sweep of the St. Louis Blues, captured in this iconic photograph of Orr celebrating the series clinching goal while flying through the air like a superhero.

Bobby Orr 1970

Following the season Orr was named the recipient of the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy, his now annual Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy as well as leading the league in plus/minus with a +54 rating.

In 1999, The Hockey News asked experts to select the most important regular season performance in NHL history and Orr's 1969-70 season was ranked #1, even ahead of Wayne Gretzky's three separate 200+ point seasons, including the one in which he scored a record 92 goals, because "Orr changed the way the game was played. He expanded the job description of all defensemen who followed. No longer was it accepted for defensemen to join the offense, it was expected of them if teams were to have success."

The following season Orr would set the all-time record for points in a season by a defenseman, which still stands today, with 139 points and continues to hold five of the top eight highest scoring seasons for defensemen in NHL history.

He would conclude is career with two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe Trophies, the Calder Trophy, eight consecutive Norris Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies, three Hart Trophies, the Pearson Award and is still the only defenseman to ever win the scoring title. He was also named the MVP of the 1976 Canada Cup, a recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 as well as having his number 4 retired by the Bruins that same year.

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Orr's number 4 is lifted to the rafters by the Bruins

Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr jersey as worn while flying through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1970.

When purchasing an Orr Bruins jersey, please be aware that Orr very rarely wore his name on the back of any jersey during his entire Boston career, with the only exception being for national TV games, as was the practice back then. Quite often Orr jerseys are sold on ebay or other online stores with Orr's name incorrectly on the back of the jersey, as if his iconic #4 wasn't enough.

Even during Orr's first season in Chicago no names were used on the back, making just the final six games of his career with the Black Hawks in 1978-79, a sad and unfortunate end to a great career and not exactly worthy of recreating for your collection, and the 1976 Canada Cup tournament the few times Orr wore his name on the back of a jersey outside of the NHL All-Star Game.


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 photo BostonBruins69-70B.jpg

Today's video selection is the Legends of Hockey profile of Bobby Orr.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Brief History of the California Golden Seals

On this date in 1976, the California Golden Seals defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 in the final game in franchise history.

The ever name changing California Seals were founded as part of the great NHL expansion of 1967-68. The San Francisco / Oakland area was not considered a particularly lucrative market for hockey, but the terms of a new television agreement with CBS called for two of the six new expansion teams to be located in California, with the other club being the Kings in Los Angeles.

The Seals were supposed to have been located in San Francisco, but the planned arena was never built, and instead, the team was based across the bay in Oakland. The club was originally called the California Seals to appeal to fans in San Francisco and address complaints from other NHL teams that Oakland was not a major league city, as it's only other professional sports team at the time was the Oakland Raiders of the inferior American Football League.

Bobby Baun Seals photo BobbyBaunSeals.jpg
Team captain Bobby Baun wearing their first "C" logo jersey
from the club's original name of "California Seals"

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A rare, original California Seals "C" crest from their first set of jerseys
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
On November 6, 1967, after the franchise was just a mere dozen games old, owner Barry Van Gerbig announced that the team's name was being changed to the Oakland Seals!

Today's first featured jersey is a 1967-68 Oakland Seals Charlie Hodge jersey. As seen above, the California Seals began play with a "C" logo, but removed those crests and replaced them with an "O" logo following their early season name change. At the same time as the change from the original C logo to the O logo, the club also added a top layer of white to their original blue numbers outlined in white due to complaints that the blue numbers were too hard to read against the green background. This style jersey was worn for two seasons until a one year only style with wider striping and white shoulders.

Oakland Seals 1967-68 B R jersey photo Oakland Seals 1967-68 F R jersey.jpg
Oakland Seals 1967-68 B R jersey photo Oakland Seals 1967-68 B R jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's first bonus jersey is a 1967-68 California Golden Seals Alain Charon jersey. This home white jersey started from the beginning with three color numbers on the back and sleeves, unlike the green jerseys' original two color numbers.

These jerseys were also converted from the original "C" logos to the modified "O" logos following the unsettled club's early name change.

Oakland Seals 1967-68 H F jersey photo Oakland Seals 1967-68 H F jersey.jpg
Oakland Seals 1967-68 H F jersey photo Oakland Seals 1967-68 H B jersey.jpg

Poor attendance led to threats by Van Gerbig to move the club and a poor record on the ice led to only seven of the original 20 players remaining on the team for it's second season.

1968-69 California Seals team photo 1968-69CaliforniaSealsteam.jpg
The 1968-69 Oakland Seals with a heavily revamped
roster wearing "O" logo sweaters

While the Seals finished with records below .500, they would qualify for the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, 1968-69 and 1969-70, the only times the club see postseason action in their nine seasons. In 1969 the Seals took the Kings to a full seven games before losing and in 1970 they were swept in four straight by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Oakland Seals 1969-70 photo Oakland Seals 1969-70.jpg
Wayne Muloin defends in front of goalie Charlie Hodge during the
1969-70 season in their one year only white shouldered jersey style

Van Gerbig sold the team to a group called Trans National Communications in time for the 1969-70 season, but when the group filed for bankruptcy, ownership reverted to Van Gerbig, who put the club up for sale again.

Today's second featured jersey is a 1969-70 Oakland Seals Barry Boughner jersey. This jersey was a one year only style worn for just the 1969-70 season before Van Gerbig found a new buyer for the franchise who brought his own unique sense of fashion.

Oakland Seals 1969-70 jersey photo Oakland Seals 
1969-70 jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
 
The Oakland Seals were then purchased by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, who had moved to the bay area in 1968. Never one to sit still, Finley renamed the team the California Golden Seals for the 1970-71 season and changed the team's green and blue colors to green and gold, matching those worn by his baseball club, as well as having the team wear flashy white skates!

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The California Golden Seals in their notorious white skates

Today's third featured jersey is a 1970-71 California Golden Seals Doug Roberts jersey in the club's new green and gold colors, paired with white skates, to repeat owner Charlie O. Finley's world champion Oakland Athletics colors.

These jerseys would be worn for three seasons with a lace up collar and for a fourth with a new v-neck collar.
 
 California Seals Golden 1971-72 jersey photo California Seals Golden 1971-72 H F jersey.jpg
California Seals Golden 1971-72 jersey photo California Seals Golden 1971-72 H B jersey.jpg

Unfortunately the the Golden Seals finished dead last in the NHL during their first season under Finley's ownership with just 45 points from 78 games. Even worse, their first overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft had already been traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the Canadiens' first round pick in 1970, left winger Ernie Hicke and the always needed cash. The player chosen by the Golden Seals with the 10th overall pick in the first round they received from Montreal turned out to be one Chris Oddleifson (95 career goals and 286 points), who they assigned to the minors before trading him to the Boston Bruins, never having played a game for the Golden Seals. Meanwhile, the Canadiens used the first overall draft choice obtained from the Golden Seals to select none other than future Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, who went on to score 560 goal and 1,353 points and win 5 Stanley Cups in his 17 seasons.

Bonus jersey: Today's second bonus jersey is a 1971-72 California Golden Seals Joey Johnston jersey. This road green version was the first Seals jersey to feature names on the back and was worn during the period of Finley's ownership. The choice of white for the names on the back was a simple and effective way to give the jerseys increased contrast and the use of one color sleeve numbers is a throwback to simpler times.

California Seals Golden 1971-72 R B jersey photo California Seals Golden 1971-72 R F jersey.jpg
California Seals Golden 1971-72 R B jersey photo California Seals Golden 1971-72 R B jersey.jpg

The team improved by 15 points the following season, but suffered from the emergence of the World Hockey Association, as the frugal Finley refused to match the WHA's contract offers to his players resulting in five of the team's top ten scorers leaving for the rival league and the Golden Seals once again sank to the bottom of the standings with 48 points in 1972-73 and followed that up with just 36 points in 1973-74.

Matters were made worse, if that's even possible, by a divisional restructuring which somehow found the Golden Seals placed in the newly created Adams Division with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, in an apparent effort by the league to kill off the franchise, as each of the other clubs were a minimum of 2,300 miles to the east! This meant any road games within their division began at 4 in the afternoon Pacific Time while most of their fanbase was theoretically still at work, unable to tune in to the radio or watch on TV.

Having grown tired of owning the hockey team, especially in direct comparison to his three-time world champion Athletics baseball team, Finley tried unsuccessfully to sell the Golden Seals, which was eventually eventually taken over by the NHL.

Melvin Swig then purchased the team in 1975 with plans to have the team play in a new arena in San Francisco. Those plans never came to pass following the election of a new mayor who was opposed to the plan, so after nine money-losing seasons, low attendance and few victories, minority owners George and Gordon Gund convinced Swig to relocate the team to their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, making the club the first NHL team to relocate since 1934 and bringing to and end the Golden Seals ordeal in California, where the team had more names than playoff appearances.


Politically, Swig and the Gunds were relying on Swig's political connections with San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto to get a new hockey arena built downtown. "Alioto was very helpful, " Gund remembered. "He had hoped to put the team where the Moscone Center is now. It was very close to public transportation."

Regrettably for the Seals, Swig's timing was off. Alioto was leaving office and Swig supported the wrong man in the 1975 election. When George Moscone took office, the new arena died. "The new mayor put the building on hold." Len Shapiro said. "He ran an investigation into the report and then said the survey had to be resurveyed , so basically, it went nowhere. Then there were plans to remodel the Cow Palace but that never happened either." Once those two plans fell through, the Seals were finished in the Bay Area.

"After the new arena in San Francisco fell through, the league gave us the go-ahead to move the team." Gund remembered. "We looked at a lot of other places. We looked at Denver and Seattle-Tacoma. We ended up picking Cleveland because hockey was very popular there."

Rumors that the Seals would leave the Bay Area were almost as old as the team itself. The owners were quietly but aggressively looking over other locations. The NHL had planned expansion franchises for both Seattle and Denver, which were supposed to begin play in 1976-77. The new entires, though, were experiencing problems so moving the Seals to those cities was still a possibility.

Shapiro recalled when he first got an inkling the team might be leaving. "On February 1, 1976, I realized something might be up. I was in the office with Loretta Marcus [the team's secretary] and nobody else was there. I had no idea where anybody was. I looked at Munson Campbell's schedule and it said he was booked at the Cleveland Hilton. Then I knew something must be up."

George and Gordon Gund owned the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio, where the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers played. It was halfway between Akron and Cleveland, a location that would cause the franchise more problems in the future. In typical Seals fashion, even it's exit was not smooth. The club participated in the July 1976 entry draft as the Seals and even started selling tickets for the upcoming season in Oakland.

At the 1976 entry draft, the Seals made history by becoming the first NHL team to use its frist-round draft pick on a European player by drafting Swedish defenseman Bjorn Johansson. The team didn't make it's intention to move officially known until August 26, 1976. It was announced that the team would move to Cleveland and take the name of the AHL franchise that played there for so many years, the Barons. Because of the late move, the Barons had a mere six weeks to sell tickets in their new home. Once again, the franchise started its new life behind the proverbial eight ball.

Under the Gunds ownership, the Barons played in Ohio for two seasons, merged with the Minnesota North Stars, who were then sold to another group while the Gunds received an NHL expansion franchise, the San Jose Sharks, at the south end of San Francisco Bay, 40 miles from where it all started.

Today's fourth featured jersey is a 1974-75 California Golden Seals Marv Edwards jersey. After the departure of owner Charlie O. Finley, the Golden Seals colors were changed from his signature green and gold to the even less intimidating pastel shades of "Pacific Blue" (teal) and "California Gold" (yellow), quite probably the worst colors for an NHL team in league history, which were about as intimidating as Easter eggs. The change also gave the team more total color schemes than playoff appearances as well.

Not even the addition of goaltender Gary Simmons' black goalie mask with it's frightening green cobra was enough to offset the "only in California" colors of the Golden Seals final jersey set.

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Aside from the unusual color scheme of the last incarnation of Golden Seals jerseys, another odd characteristic of this set was the decidedly "football jersey" style vertical stripes where the arms meet the body of the jersey, something that had never appeared on an NHL jersey before or since.

California Golden Seals Jersey photo GoldenSealsfront-1.jpg
 California Golden Seals Jersey photo GoldenSealsback-1.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's third bonus jersey is a 1974-75 California Golden Seals Joey Johnston jersey. This home white version was used for the final two seasons of the Golden Seals with it's unique arm stripes at the shoulders and pastel color scheme.


California Seals Golden 1974-75 H F jersey photo California Seals Golden 1974-75 H F jersey.jpg
California Seals Golden 1974-75 H F jersey photo California Seals Golden 1974-75 H B jersey.jpg

Here are some fantastic old videos of the Seals in action. Check out those rinkside seats for $5.50 and playoff tickets for $12. Sign us up!



We don't care how hard you punch, there's just no dignity in wearing those teal jerseys.

 

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