Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Scouts Notes: October 1975

• After having to endure an eight-game road trip to start their inaugural season, the Scouts got to open the ’75-’76 season at home against the New York Islanders on October 8. And after waiting six games to earn their first point in ’74, the Scouts didn’t waste time in ’75 and tied the Islanders, who had made the Cup semifinals the year before, 1-1. From Ken Rudnick’s game wrap in the next day’s Times: “‘We checked well,’ said (coach) Bep (Guidolin). ‘We had a meeting this morning and our guys played just like we talked about. I told them we weren’t going to beat a good team like New York by five goals, so we had to check them tight.’” The Islanders thought they may have pulled out the win when J.P. Parise (father of Zach) put the puck in the net with 27 seconds left, but the ref immediately signaled Parise had batted the puck with a high-stick, and the goal was not allowed. “I didn’t know what happened,” said Guidolin. “I just saw the red light go on. Then the guys on the bench started yelling, so I started yelling.” Appropriately, Guy Charron had the goal for the Scouts. Numbers-wise, he was about the only thing going for the Scouts in ’75-’76 (78GP, 27G, 44A, 71P). Ed Gilbert became the Scouts “iron man” as the only player to appear in all 81 Scouts games to date.

Islanders head coach Al Arbour had this take on the opener: “I think the Scouts are a vastly improved team. Defensemen like Gary Bergman, Larry Johnston and Jean-Guy Lagace have helped them. Last year they had a couple of forwards who had never played in the league. Now they have experience. Players like Denis Dupere and Craig Patrick will help them up front and Denis Herron is a good young goalie. I wasn’t pleased with the way we played…it could be that Kansas City just wouldn’t let us get going.” (10/9/75 Star)

• From Star reporter Joe McGuff: “The only disappointing aspect of opening night was the crowd of 6,819, but then it’s a little hard to be hockey-minded on an Indian summer night. If the Scouts are as much improved as they appear to be, selling hockey in Kansas City should become an easier job.” (10/9/75 Star) It’s flabbergasting that an opening night crowd could be so minuscule. Owner Ed Thompson had to be let down, but tried to put on a happy face: “I wasn’t disappointed because we expected it. You can usually tell by the advance sale. If we keep playing good hockey, things will pick up. I think at the end of the season our attendance will be better than last year.” (10/11/75 Star)

• The first bad break of the season came in practice the very next day after the opener when (G) Bill McKenzie and (F) Denis Dupere suffered a chance collision during a “standard skating drill” (10/11/75 Times). McKenzie escaped with some soreness, but Dupere’s collarbone had snapped. “I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of hockey,” said Bep. Dupere was lost for the first half of the year, a major blow to the team. Dupere had set up Charron for the Scouts goal in the opener, and was penciled in to play on the top two lines. Mr. Dupere was kind enough to send a reply to an autograph request and letter from me, in which he wrote: “We couldn’t blame the fans for the poor support since we weren’t a very good team. I missed most of the season with a broken collarbone. On the bright side, me being a great baseball fan, I was lucky to meet George Brett and I am sure you know who I am talking about!”

• The club went 3-2 in their next five games to give them a surprising .583 start, but then dropped the last three contests of the month to finish October at 3-5-1 (.389).

• (C) Rich Lemieux and a 1977 2nd round draft pick was traded to Atlanta for (RW) Buster Harvey on the 13th.

• The Scouts obviously didn’t have much TV support in Kansas City: “Reiterating that there would be at least some Scouts games on television this season, Bob Wormington, general manager of KBMA-TV, said that no definite schedule has been set. ‘We should know something in a week or two,’ he said. ‘It depends on a couple of major advertisers.’ He indicated the bulk of the televised games would probably take place after the football season.” 10/14/75 Times

• New backup goaltender Bill McKenzie made his Scouts debut in Washington, D.C. on the 22nd and managed a 4-2 win. Unfortunately for him and the Scouts, he went 0-16-1 the rest of the way.

• On the 23rd, the Scouts met the Bruins in Boston, and stunned them 3-2. The two wins in Boston (one each season) were probably the biggest feathers in the Scouts cap. It helped that Bobby Orr was on the sidelines for this game due to knee surgery, but it still rates as a major upset.

• The average attendance for the five home games in October was just 7,755.

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