Saturday, February 28, 2009

Scouts ’75-’76 Media Guide

I picked up a Scouts media guide for the ’75-’76 season on eBay recently. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of pictures inside (all black & white except for the cover). 16 players get a two-page spread that includes a bio, career stats and a full-page picture. Here are a few highlights:

Wilf Paiement scores first Scouts goal in Kemper

Recap of 1974-’75 season

Denis Herron

Bep Guidolin

Ed Gilbert and his white-guy ’fro

Guy Charron (pursued by Stan Mikita)

Gary Bergman shanks a slapper while wearing the international men’s room symbol on his helmet

Thursday, February 26, 2009

That Didn't Last Long

Well, right on cue, after posting last night that I didn’t plan on covering the Islanders or Coyotes situations anymore, I wake up to this article in the Star: “Islanders Have Escape Clause in Coliseum Lease.” (Here’s a similar article from the Long Island perspective.)

Technically, I said I wouldn’t be covering minor developments, and this does qualify as a fairly significant twist in the Isles’ situation. Previous reports suggested the Islanders couldn’t have broken their current lease that runs through 2015 even if they’d wanted to.

What this doesn’t change is that owner Charles Wang does not want to leave Long Island, KC is being used as a pawn, and progress seems to be happening on a new arena deal on Long Island. It just leaves the door ever so slightly ajar for KC in the event that an arena deal falls through.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phoenix and Long Island Making Moves To Keep Their Teams

Some recent news out of both Phoenix and Long Island about concessions being made to improve the teams’ respective situations in their current towns.

Neither the Coyotes nor Islanders are anywhere close to moving to Kansas City right now. As such, I don’t plan on covering future minor developments in regards to either team.

I unfortunately don’t sense any traction for the NHL coming to KC anytime soon.

If the Islanders do get an arena deal, it will be too bad that KC will still be stuck with them coming to town for the preseason game this September. The minor buzz of a 1% chance of the Islanders coming to KC will be completely shot. (The only plus for die-hards will be if the Islanders land either John Tavares or Victor Hedman in the draft and we get to see them in one of their very first NHL games—but those names don’t mean a thing to the average Kansas City sports fan.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some Vague Coyotes News

Press release from the Coyotes:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
GLENDALE, Ariz. --- Phoenix Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes has confirmed press reports stating that the Coyotes have received expressions of interest from potential investors in the team, which expressions of interest are under review. Moyes will continue conversations with potential investors to enable the Coyotes to retire debt and obtain working capital, which will reduce Moyes’ ownership percentage in the team. Moyes stated, “Wayne Gretzky and I have had discussions with potential investors interested in joining us in continuing the team’s presence in Glendale. I have met with Glendale city management, who expressed strong support for the team, and whose assistance would contribute to helping the Coyotes operate on a positive cash flow basis.”

Until the investment process has been concluded, Mr. Moyes will not have further comment on this subject.

So far no reason to think any investor who has interest in Kansas City is talking to the Coyotes. Come to think of it, no reason to think anyone who has the cash to own a team has interest in Kansas City. Unless Tim Lieweke is interested in leaving his position with the Kings, I haven't heard the faintest whisper about an actual ownership prospect for Kansas City ever since “Boots” Del Biaggio was revealed to be a fraud.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Scouts Notes, January 1975

January ’75 may well have been the best month the Scouts had. As far as wins and losses go, it definitely was: they went 5-6-2 (.462), the only month of their existence they went .400 or better. They beat the Bruins in Boston, tied them in Kansas City, traded for and saw the emergence of Denis Herron, saw Simon Nolet and coach Bep Guidolen participate in the All-Star Game, and stars Nolet, Guy Charron and Wilf Paiement were all clicking.

• The month kicked off with a six game home stand in which the Scouts went 3-3.

• On January 7, the Star ran this article that both highlights positives from the Scouts season and points out some of the problems as well:

• On January 8, Rangers defenseman Brad Park scored the first hat trick in Kemper Arena history en route to a 6-1 Rangers win.

• Goaltender Herron arrived from Pittsburgh in a trade on January 10. Herron was actually considered a bit of a throw in at the time of the trade; the Scouts were really interested in getting defenseman Jean-Guy Lagace, who GM Sid Abel hoped would provide an intimidating physical presence on the blueline that he felt was lacking. The Penguins wanted goaltender Michel Plasse in return, so minor leaguer Herron was included to make up for the Scouts loss of one of their top two goalies. At the time, Herron had 23 NHL games under his belt, with a 7-10-2 record. The conventional wisdom was that Peter McDuffe would be the number one the rest of the way, but Herron soon established himself as the top goaltender for the rest of the Scouts existence, and used that as a spring-board to a career that included 462 games, a Vezina trophy in ’80-’81 and a William M. Jennings trophy in ’81-’82.

• The mid-point of the season was reached on January 11 after the Scouts defeated the Capitals 5-3. Their first half record stood at 8-28-4 (.250).

• Guidolin was selected by the league to coach the Prince of Wales Conference at the All-Star Game due to his appearance in the Stanley Cup finals with the Boston Bruins the season prior. In a quirk of realignment, Guidolin was on the opposing side of the Scouts’ lone All-Star player, Simon Nolet. No Scout was voted in by the writers, so the task of naming at least one Scout to the game fell to the Campbell Conference coach, Fred Shero of the Flyers—The same coach who had benched Nolet for much of the previous season and the same Flyers who had left Nolet unprotected in the expansion draft. Nolet was the obvious choice though. Shero said, “He seems to be more of a leader now. He never was before.” Nolet himself didn't mind acknowledging he had “a hell of a good first half.” The game was played in Montreal on January 21, and Bep’s Prince of Wales squad defeated Nolet’s Campbell side by a score of 7-1. Nolet managed two shots.

• The first game after the All-Star break was in Boston. The Bruins had lost five home games in the previous season. The Scouts had won a single road game. In Star reporter Jay Greenberg’s game preview, he wrote that expansion team victories were next-to-impossible in Boston. But that night, the stars and planets aligned, there was a cold front in hell, and the Kansas City Scouts stole a game from the Boston Bruins in what must have been the high point of the season. Bep originally had Peter McDuffe slated to be in net, but Denis Herron had impressed in his first two games with the Scouts, and earned the start in Boston. Herron stood on his head, stopping 34 of 36 shots from the Bruins, and Randy Rota, Ed Gilbert and Gary Croteau scored for the Scouts. According to Greenberg, “It was as perfect a game as a team of their talent can play. They back-checked fiercely, got out-of-this-world goaltending from Denis Herron, and cashed their limited chances into three goals. There was not a Scouts player who didn't play well.” You can read his giddy game summary here:

• In the same sports section that recounted the amazing win in Boston was an article with another bad omen for the future of the Scouts: TV ratings for Scouts games in Kansas City were “disappointing” (actual numbers were not divulged), and the Scouts’ TV home (KBMA Channel 41) was dropping seven of the 14 planned broadcasts for the second half of the year. Here is the article in full:

• More bad news for the Scouts came when their AHL affiliate Baltimore Clippers folded in the middle of the season, leaving the Scouts to scramble to find teams for their farmhands to play on.

• On the 26th, an off-day practice at Kemper was open to the public and was followed by a “Meet the Scouts” session that was attended by “a little more than 1,000 people” according to the Star.

• This bit of trivia was in the January 27th Star: “The Scouts will wear players’ names on the back of the home uniforms for the rest of the season. The road uniforms will remain nameless. The home team, for reasons of program sales, has the option of forbidding them.” —Jay Greenberg
(Based on the graphics at, I had assumed nameplates were not added until the 1975-76 season.)

• Just four days after the big win in Boston, the Bruins paid a visit to Kemper on January 27. The Bruins were surely not too happy about the embarrassing loss, and would not be taking the Scouts lightly this night. A second victory would be miraculous, but the Scouts came just 46 seconds away from pulling it off. Before a Monday night crowd of 9,657 that was Kemper’s “most frenzied yet” (Greenberg), the Scouts clung to a 3-2 lead when the Bruins scored off of Don Marcotte’s skate in the final minute. The Scouts protested that Marcotte had kicked the puck in the net, but the referee called it a goal, and the Scouts had to “settle” for a tie—still quite an accomplishment against Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito’s Bruins. Here is Orr skating on the Kemper ice that night:

Esposito claimed to not be embarrassed about gaining only one point in the two games: “They’re in the National Hockey League aren’t they?” Orr added, “I’m not going to take anything away from them. They’re working awfully hard.” Bruins coach Don Cherry didn’t take things as gracefully; Greenberg wrote he was in a “mild rage” after the game.

• The below article appeared in the January 28th Star, and covers issues that are familiar on today’s NHL landscape: troubled franchises, the potential for relocation and expansion, and bad economic times. Interestingly, Denver and Seattle had actually been promised expansion teams for the 1976-77 season, promises that the league had to back out of. At the time of the article, sources told Jay Greenberg that the “Oakland Seals are as good as gone to Denver.” Little did anyone know it would be the fledgling Scouts fleeing to Denver instead.