May 08, 2004

Hockey History - Expansion

The National Hockey League had survived many years with teams being created and fading away, but the "original six" always survived. They were:

Boston Bruins
Chicago Blackhawks
Detroit Red Wings
Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs

In 1967, the NHL gambled on a major expansion and doubled their size to 12 teams. In the extended entry is a list of those teams, along with pictures of their original sweaters.

Los Angeles Kings
Originally owned by Jack Kent Cooke (known as the 'Squire', he also owned the Washington Redskins football team). The Kings changed their primary colors to purple, black and silver in 1988.

Minnesota North Stars
Moved to Dallas and dropped the 'North' from their name in 1992.

Oakland Seals
My first love and the 'hometown boys' before the Sharks came along. The Seals suffered from poor attendance and in 1976 moved to Cleveland and became the Barons. Two years later the franchise was absorbed into the North Stars. The hideous green and gold color scheme (look familiar?) can be blamed on owner Charley Finley, who bought several professional sports teams (Oakland A's among others) and outfitted them all in kelly green and gold.

Philadelphia Flyers
The most successful expansion franchise, the Flyers have won the Stanley Cup twice in seven appearances.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Their initial home was the Civic Arena, locally nicknamed the "Big Igloo", so the Penguins name seemed like a natural. Their first General Manager hated the name and so copied the blue and white uniform colors of the famed St. Michael's Majors junior team in Toronto. The Penguins changed team colors to gold and black in the 80's. The Penguins franchise has declared bankruptcy twice, matching the number of Stanley Cups they've won. At one time Eddie DeBartolo (former owner of the San Fransisco 49ers) was a major partner.

St. Louis Blues
They've reached the playoffs 25 years in a row, yet during that stretch have never reached the Stanley Cup finals. The Blues have never won a game in the finals, making three appearances (1968-1970), but being swept each year (Montreal twice and Boston once).

Posted by Ted at May 8, 2004 12:12 AM
Category: History

Didn't Charles Schultz do some of the artwork for the Seals? I remember seeing a logo on souvenirs that looked more like a seal from Peanuts and less like that crazy stylized thing (which always looked like a fish to me.)

Posted by: Nic at May 8, 2004 03:48 PM

I don't remember that, but it's entirely possible. He was from just north of the Bay Area, in Santa Rosa. My folks lived there for years, it's a beautiful area.

Posted by: Ted at May 8, 2004 05:44 PM

A minor thing...

If I am not mistaken, Los Angeles changed its colors in 1988, but to silver and black only. The purple was retired altogether. Then, the year before they moved into Staples (1999?), the purple came back, but the silver and black stayed.

Posted by: Scott at May 10, 2004 10:29 AM

1998 saw a new wave of expansion of the NHL. Nashville was selected as one of the new cities. Native Tennesseans don't grow up with hockey (period). We learn the basics of Basketball, baseball, and Football. We tend to tolerate basketball/baseball until football comes back. Hockey vocabulary isn't taught/supported in the home.

I have been a Predator fan since I saw the inagural game back in 1998. I have looked at hockey as outsider for the last six years and have come to understand a few things. I understand that Hockey suffers from a lack of funding that might see a lockout/strike next year. Hockey needs an increase in Television revenue and that will only happen when the networks increase the "newbie" factor in the broadcast commentary. Hockey rules/strategy is not basic to most of American Culture like it is around the "orginal six" cities.

Along those same line, Hockey vocabulary needs to be explained to those who don't know what biscit, top shelf, five hole, or a blue line is. Somethings aren't as aparent like the difference between a wrist or slap shot. Then there are the more obscured, but vital words like a checking line. In this age of instant information the "orgianal six" tend to ignore the obvious that they have developed a language all of their own.

The second thing that the broadcasters need to improve upon is the number of cameras covering the game. How many times durring an NFL or NASCAR event that there wasn't a camera angle avilable to show fowl/accident/excitment? Why is it extreamely better to go see a live hockey game than a Televised game? There are disparities between the two that need to be adressed before the NHL will compete effectively with the NHL.

I would have thought that the fans of the "original six" would seek to convert anyone into a fan instead of this elitist mentality that only they should have hockey. I will be bitterly disappointed if there isn't hockey next season because the elitist have propagated the phrase "watered down hockey" to the point that not even the die-hard fans watch anymore.

Posted by: Mark at May 10, 2004 08:25 PM

Scott, that makes sense. I was trying to figure out when the purple came in, because I remembered the Kings as being black, white and silver only.

Mark, excellent points! I'm going to use them as the basis of a new post, because I think it might get too long for the comments.

Posted by: Ted at May 10, 2004 08:43 PM

Thank you. I would like to add one more point: Hockey (the game) isn't about compromise. It's about giving everything you have to decimate your opposition. The "orginal six" debate follows the classical lines of the game; brutal honest contests between skill, and force.

Posted by: Mark at May 11, 2004 05:10 PM
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