Saturday, March 21, 2009

Numbers From 1974-75

Here are some numbers from the Scouts first season (sourced from Numbers in parentheses are league rank, out of 18 teams:

Record: 15-54-11, .256 (17)
Home record: 12-20-8, .400
Road record: 3-34-3, .113
(That the other two road wins came against the lowly Capitals and Seals makes the January 23rd victory in Boston that much more remarkable.)

Goals for: 184 (17)
Goals against: 328 (16)
(One stat that explains the Scouts success relative to the Capitals is goals against: The two expansion clubs scored at the same rate (181 for the Caps), but the Caps gave up 118 more goals (446).)

Goals per game: 2.30
Goals against per game: 4.10

Power play goals for: 57 (11)
Power play percentage: 16.24% (15)

Power play goals against: 53 (2!)
Penalty kill percentage: 77.25% (13)
(Washington gave up 94 PP goals.)

Short-handed goals for: 6 (11)
Short-handed goals against: 6 (4)

PIM: 744 (18)
(Being the least penalized team in the league served the Scouts well. GM Sid Abel might not have been proud of the distinction however, since he brought in Larry Johnston and Steve Durbano, which helped push the number up to 984 PIM the following season, and 80 PP goals against.)

Times shut-out: 12
Shut-outs: 0

Team leaders:

26 Simon Nolet
26 Wilf Paiement
18 Robin Burns

32 Simon Nolet
32 Dave Hudson
29 Guy Charron

58 Simon Nolet
42 Guy Charron
41 Dave Hudson

.824 Guy Charron
.806 Simon Nolet
.586 Dave Hudson

101 Wilf Paiement
70 Robin Burns
64 Richard Lemieux

Games played:
80 Ed Gilbert
80 Randy Rota
79 Richard Lemieux

Scouts Notes, March—April, 1975

The first season of NHL hockey in Kansas City ended with a whimper over the course of March and April in 1975. The Scouts eked out just one victory in that time, going 1-13-3 (.147). Jay Greenberg penned a piece for the March 25th Star examining possible reasons for the sharp drop off after a relatively successful stretch over January and February:

“The most tangible reasons are the injuries to Jean-Guy Lagace and Simon Nolet. Lagace’s departure with a fractured ankle turned out to be more critical than feared and emphasizes how important he is to the club’s future.

‘He’s the type of guy who motivates,’ says Gary Croteau. ‘Not only verbally but by the way he plays, too. He’s experienced, too; he helps the younger guys. He starts things. It’s contagious.’ ...The power play has been abysmal since (Lagace) was lost.

Nolet has been back now for nine games, but (until recently) wasn’t the same player he had been before being shelved.”

Greenberg also theorized that since the Scouts were already assured of besting the Capitals in the standings and having a moderately respectable expansion year, the Scouts had little motivation during the end of the season.

Some notes:

• The Scouts signed defenseman Larry Johnston on February 28 for the remainder of the year and the following season. Johnston had been with the Baltimore Blades of the WHA, but was released by mutual agreement so that he could sign with the Scouts. Johnston told the Star that the WHA was a “nightmare,” and that he was “anxious to get back to the NHL.” Johnston had a history of piling up penalty minutes in every league he’d played in.

• The below ad ran in the March 2nd Star and details promotions for March home games. Greenberg revealed in an article that the Scouts had just hired an advertising firm in February, and the change is reflected in this ad. Ads for home games ran in the Star throughout the year, but they were small, unimpressive things that promised little in the way of promotions other than “plenty of parking.” I realize that the world of marketing and advertising is vastly different today than it was in the mid-’70s, but the lack of promotion during the early days of the Scouts seems downright asinine. Owner Ed Thompson vastly underestimated the work that needed to be done to sell the sport and team to a market like Kansas City, and that has a lot to do with why the Scouts were gone after just two years.

• On March 5th, the Penguins came to town, and goaltenders Denis Herron and Michel Plasse, who had been swapped for each other earlier in the season, faced each other. Perhaps fittingly, they dueled to a 4-4 tie. “They didn’t beat me,” said Plasse. “I didn’t lose to them,” said Herron.

• The amount of coverage the Star gave to the team decreased noticeably over the end of the season.

• Great quote from a March 11th Times story by Greenberg: “(Coach) Bep (Guidolin) offered anxiety over the NHL trading one reason for the recent lethargy. ‘That’s all I’ve been hearing for the last two weeks,’ he said. ‘ ‘When’s the trading deadline?’...A player came up to me today and asked me when it was. I told him it was over. I told him we tried to trade him but nobody wanted him. That’ll shut him up.’ ”

• As late as March 11th, the Scouts trailed the North Stars in the standings by just six points, but finished the year 12 points behind them.

• Guy Lafleur scored his 50th goal of the year against the Scouts on March 29th in Montreal.

• Wilf Paiement achieved a more modest milestone the next night by potting his 25th. I say modest, but 25 is a nice mark for a rookie on a bad team. He finished the year with 26 goals, but only 13 assists.

• Jay Greenberg offered this season summary:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Attendance Numbers for 1974-75

I’ve finished gathering attendance numbers for the Scouts first season: The average attendance at Scouts home games was 8,529. On the road, they played in front of an average crowd of roughly 13,500 (missing data for 11 of 40 games). As I reported in an earlier post, the home attendance averaged 8,431 in the first half of the season; interestingly, it ticked upward in the second half to 9,027. The best attended game was the opener with 14,758, followed by a late-season game against Buffalo on March 22 with 13,567. The lowest attendance came on December 12 against California, with just 5,979 at the arena.

I’ll be back in a few days with notes on the final five weeks of the ’74-’75 season.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scouts Notes, February 1975

Dave Hudson and the Scouts battle the Maple Leafs on February 6th in Kansas City

The relatively good times continued to roll for the Scouts in February 1975. They managed to pick up points against the Black Hawks, Maple Leafs, Golden Seals, Capitals, Rangers and North Stars. Their 14-40-8 (.281) record at the end of the month was actually considered respectable, particularly compared with the 6-53-5 (.133) record of the fellow expansionee Capitals. The Guy Charron acquisition in December had sparked the club, with Charron putting up 26 points in his first 21 games as a Scout. On February 5th, GM Sid Abel told Star reporter Joe McGuff, “We’ve played well since we acquired Charron. He is one of our better players and the line of Charron, (Simon) Nolet and (Robin) Burns can play with any of them. We’re playing better than I thought we would when the season started. We’re green and we’ve had problems on the road coughing up the puck when the pressure is on, but we’ve played well at home.” The term “respectable” was thrown around a lot in coverage of the team, and there seemed to be a real optimism that they were preparing to take a significant step forward the following season.

There were of course bumps in the road as well, including getting shutout in 4 of 6 games between the 7th and 16th, and serious injury trouble cropping up in the middle and end of the month. Team MVP Nolet missed time, and defensemen were dropping so fast that Dennis Patterson logged “45 to 50” minutes on the blueline on the 16th against the Capitals! Coach Bep Guidolin even played some forwards at D here and there to spell the few defensemen who were healthy enough to play. Their top defenseman, Jean-Guy Lagace, broke an ankle and missed a large chunk of time.

Nevertheless, after the Scouts defeated the North Stars 4-2 on the 23rd, they were only 4 points out of the cellar in their division. Unfortunately for them, they would only manage a 1-15-3 record the rest of the season.

Here are some articles from the

This article from the 11th takes a look at business troubles facing the Scouts, including underwhelming attendance, and owner Edwin Thompson deflecting criticism and any notion that the club is not on solid financial footing. Maddening quote: “The club will lose money this year, but less than was expected, Thompson says. Losses are projected for next year, too, but he is still hopeful the club will begin to turn a profit by the third year of operation.” So why did he abandon ship after just two years?

On the 12th appeared this critical look at the Scouts promotional efforts off the ice. An interesting couple of notes about attendance: it was “ahead of team projections,” and “A look at the comparative first-year attendance figures for the other post-1967 teams indicates they’re not doing badly. The Scouts are averaging 8,120 a game, which puts them ahead of three others: California (4,600); Pittsburgh (7,292); Los Angeles (8,037).” (Kind of contradictory to the stance taken in the previous column that attendance was a problem.) The rest of the article paints a bleak picture of a lack of promotion the team was pursuing to sell tickets—something that seems to be an obvious need in a non-traditional hockey market like KC.

On the 16th, this long feature on Wilf Paiement:

On the 18th, this pat on the back for GM Sid Abel and assistant GM Baz Bastien:

Friday, March 6, 2009

DIY Scouts Jersey

Ever since my fascination and curiosity about the Scouts started, I’ve wanted a Scouts jersey. But the $150-$300 that hockey jerseys typically go for is just absurd, so I held off. Then on December 8th last year, one of my favorite websites, Uni Watch, ran this amazing story about a dude named Bryan Justman and his homemade hockey jerseys. I knew I was going to have to attempt making a Scouts jersey for myself.

Tonight, I finished the jersey. You can check pictures here. It’s far from perfect, but I'm happy with it for my first attempt. Next up is a Rangers jersey for my one year old son.

Edit: My jersey is one of several featured in a story on!

Isles Owner Wang: “Kansas City BBQ Is Delicious”

See this link for an interview with Islanders owner Charles Wang about the status of the Islanders and the Lighthouse Project that is supposedly the make-or-break factor for him to remain as owner and keep the team on Long Island. Kansas City is brought up, and Wang jokingly says, “Where's Kansas City? Oh, yeah, Kansas City, that’s a nice place, right?” and “Kansas City barbecue is delicious.” He is ratcheting up the rhetoric and scare tactics to push a new arena through.

Star columnist Randy Covitz has this article today: “Islanders owner gets more serious in threat to move or sell NHL team