Friday, December 18, 2009

Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir Sees Expansion To KC Within The Next Five Years

Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated has a recent column answering reader mail. In one answer, he pretty much guarantee(s) (expansion is) going to happen, and probably within five years. Muirs best bets for expansion are Toronto/Southwestern Ontario and Kansas City.

As Muir says earlier in the same answer, Gary Bettman has made it clear that he will fight tooth and nail to prevent teams from relocating.* So in spite of the existence of several teams on shaky footing, the prospects for Kansas City (or anywhere else) gaining a relocated team in the at-all near future seem slim at best. And Im not as optimistic as Muir is for our chances at an expansion team. But it is always nice to read that someone in the know thinks we still have a real shot.

*Say what you want about Bettman defending his current markets so staunchly, but I sure wish the league would have been willing back in 1976 to go to bat for Kansas City to allow us more time to develop as an NHL market. As Ive reported before, the league would have even allowed the Scouts to fold in the middle of a season if it came to that. Maybe we still have the Scouts if the league would have been willing to help in the slightest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oilers’ AHL Affiliate Reportedly To Oklahoma City...Where Is KC?

According to, Oklahoma City is close to officially becoming the home of the Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate next season. I have to ask again: Why is Kansas City seemingly not even in the conversation for an AHL team? Oklahoma City is roughly 61% of the size of Kansas City. As Ive written here before, (according to my rudimentary research) only three current AHL markets are bigger than Kansas City. And unlike the NHL, there seems to actually be teams for the takingif only AEG were interested.

Most notably, the St. Louis Blues affiliate could be available, with the Peoria Rivermens current lease set to expire after the current season. On October 1st, the Peoria Journal Star even claimed that there are rumblings about the Rivermen moving to Kansas City in 2010. But a November 9th column said negotiations are ongoing to keep the Rivermen in Peoria, and that a multi-year deal is expected. Kansas City may not be a hockey hotbed, but something tells me we could do better than Peorias 4,000 fans a game. Im not sure there could be a better fit for hockey in Kansas City than the Blues top farm team.

It is possible that AEG and the Sprint Center are looking into the AHL for Kansas City. But its hard to imagine that they are...surely the press would catch wind of it, and aside from the vague rumblings mentioned above, there seems to be zero evidence of it, and plenty of statements that they are specifically targeting the NHL.

Perhaps they would view an AHL team in the Sprint Center as a failure, given that the goal has always been the NHL. But isnt a complete lack of a sports tenant the real failure? Do they think an AHL team would block the way for an NHL team? Seems to me the AHL could actually help the cause by growing the base of hockey fans. Doesnt Kansas City deserve to at least be in the conversation?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scouts On-Ice Notes: March—April, 1976

There was a lot going on with the Scouts off the ice late in the ’75-’76 season, so I’m going to split up my notes with this (mostly) on-ice report and an off-ice report later.

• “Scouts Booster Club dinner Sunday at Crown Center was a big success. Boosters presented (Wilf) Paiement with a pair of fur-trimmed bluejeans to go with his fur coat” (which he had been awarded for his hat trick earlier in the year). (3/3/76 Star)

• How far apart where the lowly Scouts and the mighty Flyers? When Flyer captain Bobby Clarke was asked how his team psyched themselves up for their game against the Scouts on March 7th, he responded, “You don’t really. You get bored. We had lots of shots but we weren’t really pushing that hard. Most of the time we were pushing the puck around.” (3/8/76 Times) The Scouts got 23 shots off in the game; the Flyers had 22 after one period.

• On March 16th, the Scouts hosted the Black Hawks. Guy Charron netted his 27th goal of the year, surpassing the team mark of 26 that Wilf Paiement and Simon Nolet had set the previous season. But the Scouts dropped the game 3-6, which was their 16th straight game without a victory, tying the team record. Unfortunately for the Scouts, the only end to this winless stretch would be the end of the season, 11 games later. Scout Robin Burns turned into an insane poet after the Black Hawks game: “An entanglement of troubles. A spontaneous nurturing of the fruits of disappointment. A demented departure from the reality of hockey.” (3/17 Times)

• Ordinarily, a stretch like that would prompt roster moves of some sort in an attempt to shake things up. But according to an article in the September, 1976 issue of Kansas City magazine, team president Edwin Thompson “refused to allow any player moves as the team went winless in the last 27 games of its history because it would have cost money to pay the moving expenses of young players being called up from the minors.”

• On March 20th, all tickets were priced at $2 for a game against the Seals at Kemper. 16,219 fans showed up, easily the biggest crowd to see a Scouts home game. Kansas City was up 2-0 after two periods, but of course couldn’t hold on, and the big crowd had to settle for a 2-2 tie.

• Two nights later, the Scouts visited the Capitals. This was a prime chance to stop the winless streak. Things were looking good as the Scouts jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second, and lead 5-2 heading into the third. This being the ’75-’76 Scouts, they allowed 3 third period goals and ended up with a 5-5 tie. “Jesus Christ and the disciples couldn’t help this team,” Steve Durbano said after the game. “This team stinks.” (3/24 Times) After the season was over, goalie Denis Herron pointed to this game as the nadir of an extremely low season. It was the last point the Scouts would ever earn.

• After the 21st straight game without a win on March 24th, Randy Rota said, “You wake up in the morning and think that this is the day it breaks. Only it never does. Pretty soon you stop thinking that. Pretty soon you start losing your personal pride.” And Dave Hudson: “You think if you keep after it, it’s gotta break. Only there’s not much time left now.” (3/25 Star) To add injury to insult, Denis Herron got his head stepped on while allowing a goal that night, and was knocked out.

• The Scouts had the misfortune of playing the Canadiens on March 27th, and for the second straight year, Guy Lafleur scored his 50th goal against Herron and the Scouts in Montreal. For good measure, he added number 51 later in the game as the Habs breezed to an 8-2 victory.

• On March 28th, the Scouts lost to the New York Rangers and a young goalie named Doug Soetaert making his third NHL start. After his playing days, Soetart would go on to spend one year as coach and ten years as GM of the IHL Kansas City Blades.

• The last home game in Scouts history came on March 30th against the Los Angeles Kings. Before the game, Herron was named as team MVP, as voted on by his teammates. “Gary Bergman was named top defenseman, Guy Charron was cited for being named the top star of the game most often during the season and Gary Croteau was honored for his dedication, hard work and leadership both on and off the ice.” (3/31 Star) In the game, the Scouts exploded for six goals in the first two periods and had a 6-5 lead heading into the final frame…but once again couldn’t hold, and lost 6-8. The Scouts much too brief run at Kemper Arena went out with a bang, as the 14 goals added up to the highest scoring game in Kemper history. 7,123 fans witnessed the end of the Scouts in Kansas City. Gary Croteau scored the last Scouts goal in Kansas City, while King Tom Williams potted the last goal overall.

• The miserable band of Scouts still had three road games to play. Earlier in the season, the Capitals had set a new mark in NHL futility by going winless in a record 25 straight games. The loss to the Kings at home was number 24 in a row without a win for the Scouts. The Scouts tied the record with a loss in Chicago on March 31st, then made it their own with losses in Los Angeles and Vancouver on April 3rd and 4th to stretch it to an impressive 27. Who knows how long they could have gone had the season not come to a merciful end. (The Colorado Rockies snapped the franchise’s streak by winning their first ever game.) Craig Patrick netted the final goal in Scouts history.

• Herron tried to make some sense of the team’s collapse over the final half of the season: “We change the coach and we change the system from top to bottom. We played tight hockey, man-for-man, with Bep. With Bush we’re more open now. We can’t play open, because nobody scores.” (4/5 Star) Gary Bergman allowed that the off-ice issues hurt their performance on the ice: “Sure, it takes your mind off hockey. Between the talk about the team moving and all the trouble in the front office…that’s been more of the topic of conversation with the players than trying to figure out what’s wrong with the team.” (4/5 Star) Injury trouble didn’t help, especially Wilf Paiement missing the last six weeks of the season. The record 27 games without a win stood until the ’80-’81 Winnipeg Jets took the Scouts off the hook by running up a 30 game streak.

• The Scouts record over March and two games in April was 0-15-2 (.059). The seven home games had an average announced attendance of 8,286.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Numbers From 1975-76

Wilf Paiement

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

Record: 12-56-12, .225 (17)
Home record: 8-24-8, .300
Road record: 4-32-4, .150

Goals for: 190 (18)
Goals against: 351 (17)

Goals per game: 2.38
Goals against per game: 4.39

Power play goals for: 46 (18)
Power play percentage: 13.07% (18)

Power play goals against: 80 (14)
Penalty kill percentage: 72.88% (18)

Short-handed goals for: 2 (T-16)
Short-handed goals against: 17 (18)
(Special teams went from being a small bright spot in
74-75 to a disaster in 75-76.)

PIM: 984 (12)
(Huge increase from 744 the previous year.)

Times shut-out: 5
Shut-outs: 0
(The Scouts were shut-out 17 times in their history, and never shut-out an opponent.)

Team leaders:

27 Guy Charron
21 Wilf Paiement
19 Gary Croteau

44 Guy Charron
33 Gary Bergman
22 Wilf Paiement

71 Guy Charron
43 Wilf Paiement
38 Gary Bergman

.910 Guy Charron
.754 Wilf Paiement
.615 Chuck Arnason

209 Steve Durbano
121 Wilf Paiement
112 Richard Lemieux
(Durbano only spent 37 games as a Scout, which means he averaged a mind-boggling 5.65 PIM/game)

Games played:
80 Craig Patrick
79 Gary Croteau
78 Guy Charron & Robin Burns

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wang Exploring All Options...In The New York Area

Things sure have been quiet on the Islanders front ever since owner Charles Wang claimed he'd be "exploring all options" as of October 3rd. Chris Botta of the Islanders Point Blank blog has an informative post today however. The pertinent quote:

"Although Wang is flattered by the interest from other communities, he has little desire to move the team away from Nassau County — so much so that he has yet to rigorously pursue his options.

And finally, know this:

Brooklyn is very much in play.

Queens is very much in play, although it’s a close second to Brooklyn now.

Suffolk is not a serious option.

The Islanders will not leave the New York metropolitan area during this generation or the next one."