Teams Should Reflect City PT III-HOCKEY

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Updated: December 4, 2012
Calgary Flames 1

Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter

Part 3-HOCKEY

OAKLAND, C.A (BASN)—Over the past 60 years 40 teams have changed cities, logos, and names causing a crazy maze quilt pattern of sports history. American cities have been held hostage to the demands of teams and their billionaire owner’s. These owners and teams want new state of the art arenas and stadiums.

National Hockey League (NHL)
Calgary Flames-Atlanta Flames
Phoenix Coyotes-Winnipeg Jets
Carolina Hurricanes-Hartford Whalers
Dallas Stars- Minnesota North Stars
California Golden Seals-Cleveland Barons-Minnesota North Stars
New Jersey Devils-Cleveland Barons

New Jersey Devils-Kansas City Scouts-Colorado Rockies
Colorado Avalanche- Quebec Nordics
Winnipeg Jets- Atlanta Thrashers
The National Hockey League has done its part in renaming their relocated franchises.

The Calgary are the only hockey team to keep its name and logo unlike the other professional teams.

The first National Hockey League (NHL) team to leave its home was the California Golden Seals in 1976 and was owned by Charles O. Finley from 1970-76. Mr. Finley introduced gold ice and white hockey skates. All of Finley’s team wore California gold and evergreen with white shoes. The Seals just followed Finley’s tradition.

The Oakland, California Seals was one of the first NHL six expansion teams. The Seals never made it in Northern California because of the lack of support from Bay Area fans. Many believe the Seals would have made it in Northern California if they had been allowed to play in South San Francisco’s Cow Palace. The Seals moved in 1976 to Cleveland, Ohio. Under the ownership of the very young and inexperienced Gund Brothers. Yes, the same brothers that now own the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers. The Gund Brothers’ inexperience at owning a professional team made it very difficult for the Barons to succeed.

In 1980, the Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver, Colorado to become the state’s first hockey team known as the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies lasted only two years before heading to the swamplands of Northern New Jersey.

The Cleveland Barons were the first team to be absorbed by another team. Half of the players and equipment went to the cash-strapped Minnesota North Stars organization. The other half went to New Jersey to become the Devils. New Jersey kept the ugly green and red uniforms of the Barons and were promptly called the Christmas team.

They became my favorite hockey team, leaving the Broadway Blueshirts of New York. at the beginning of their existence bad things continued to haunt this franchise. Two issues were their green and red uniform and their team name. They continued to be called the NHL’s Christmas Team but many Christians did not like the name Devils. In fact, the Catholic Mission Church across the highway from the Meadowlands told the Devils’ administration that they would never win the cup with those colors and that name. The nuns were wrong this time.

In 1994 The Devils changed their colors to black and red and promptly won three Stanley Cups. Maybe an All Star goalie  number, 30, Martin Brodeur and the stingy left wing lock defense had something to do with that too.

In 1993 the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas but kept part of its name. Dallas dropped the North part, because they played deep in the heart of Texas. Again, this team that went from hockey also- rans to Stanley Cup Champion. Moving to Dallas was the best decision for the organization with forwards Bret Hull and American hockey star Mike Modano. Winning became habit forming in Dallas. Most hockey fans still remember the goal, no goal-call with Modano standing in the cress. That rule has been changed by the NHL league officials. The Dallas Stars defeated the Dominator, All Star goalie Dominik Hasek and Buffalo Sabers.

In 1980 the Atlanta Flames moved from the hot winters in the south to the cold weather of Calgary. The name Flames in Calgary just does not make sense. Is it hot in Canada in winter? Don’t think so in the middle of a cold Canadian winter. The Flames have the greatest Black player in hockey, Jerome Iginla however few Americans know his name. If the league’s 2nd Black Hockey Captain played in the United States he would be a national hero.

In 1995 the Colorado Avalanche came from the great white Canadian north. The Quebec Nordiques organization traded for the outstanding all star goaltender Patrick Roy. They won the Stanley Cup a year after leaving Canada. Many French Canadians are still angry after supporting this team for so many years in the World Hockey Association. Then the merger into the National Hockey League followed. Winning the Cup twice in the United States was too much for some in the French Canadian Province.

In 1996 another team left the Canadian North-lands for the Arizona desert. The first  Winnipeg Jets organization became the Phoenix Coyotes. The cash starved Jets had payroll issues and had to find new investors. Moving to the southwest saved this franchise for the moment. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, coached the team in the late 90′s. They reached the Western Conference Finals last year. So good things might happen in the Arizona desert.

In 1997 the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes. The famous Whaler fight song which played after every goal would not be played again. Within a few years, the Hurricanes were also Stanley Cup champions. Whaler fans in Hartford, Conn. are still upset. This team was in a very bad situation in Hartford, CT, with the Boston Bruins north and the New York teams south of Conn., The Whalers struggled to find NHL fans. In the former WHA they had a fan base but when the two leagues merged they lost many fans to the established league. They were not a winning team until they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Last team to move in the National Hockey League was the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. The Thrashers put hockey back in Winnipeg, Canada with the New Jets. The New Jets have a new uniform and a new logo in keeping with the hockey tradition of changing both after relocation. They also have six Black players on the ice and should have stayed in Atlanta. The Thrashers had a marketing tool in bringing new Black fans to the game. If they ever had a goalie in the net, the Thrashers would have been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the National Hockey League has it right, changing the organization name and logo when they move. Football, baseball, and basketball, still struggle with this issue. Also when the team moves it seems like they play better and enter the Stanley Cup Finals within years of relocation. Only the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets have not accomplished this fete but it won’t be too long.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

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