Friday, September 18, 2015

Muskegon Fury (CoHL, 1995-96)

1995-96 Regular Season--Fury vs. Saginaw Wheels
     The Muskegon Fury were members of the Colonial/United Hockey League. They joined the league as an expansion franchise, replacing the recently departed Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL. The franchise was owned by Tony Lisman, who was also General Manager. Bill Stewart was the Head Coach The Fury played their home games at 5000-seat LC Walker Arena.
     The Fury had a fine season both on and off the ice in 1995-96. Muskegon captured the West Division crown with a solid 40-27-7 record. Their 87 points were three points ahead of second place Thunder Bay, but 20 behind Tarry Cup-winning Flint. LC Walker Arena saw an average of 3,383 fans per game file into the building that year, third highest in the league.
     The Fury iced a low-scoring team that year, lighting the lamp just 273 times, third-lowest in the league. Brett Seguin led the way on offense, with 106 points on the strength of 31 goals. Steve Walker had a team-best 43 goals. Two other players scored over 30 goals.
    
1995-96 Yearbook
Muskegon was much better on defense, tying the Flint Generals for the lowest amount of goals allowed with 248. They were led in goal by Rich Parent, who went 23-7-4 with an excellent 2.44 GAA and 2 shutouts in 36 games. Brian Greer made it into 27 games (8-10-2, 3.75 GAA) and Mike Parson got into 19 games (9-7-1, 3.64 GAA). Female goaltender Erin Whitten split time with Muskegon and Flint that season as well.
     The Fury would draw the Detroit Falcons in Round One of the Colonial Cup Playoffs that spring. The Falcons, in their final season, went a mediocre 33-32-9, 12 points behind Muskegon in the standings. But with star goalie Parent with the IHL's Detroit Vipers, the Falcons upset the Fury in five games. Flint would go on to win their first Colonial Cup in six games over the Thunder Bay Senators.
     The program and the yearbook are both from an estate sale. My parents picked these up for me a long time ago. The program is from a game against the Saginaw Wheels on March 2, 1996. The Fury won the game, 4-1.
     The program is in pretty good shape. There's a crease down the middle, but there are no torn pages. It's 44 pages, almost all in color on glossy paper. Most of it is advertisements, though there are a couple articles. There's one about "The Persepective of Being a Fury Fan" and "An Afternoon with the Muskegon Fury". There's also a "Fic-tionary", which is a list of favorite phrases by the team's colorful radio voice, Terry Ficorelli. Local advertisements include Jones Sporting Goods, Breakaway Bicycles, Meijer and Leppinks Food Center.
     The photo album is in excellent condition, 40 pages with no tears or creases. All the pictures inside are black-and-white and include bios of each player. There's also a league directory and game-by-game results for the 1994-95 season.

Aftermath: The Fury were always a dangerous team, and became a league powerhouse in the late 1990s. They won their first Colonial Cup in 1999, dethroning two-time champion Quad City in six games. They would win three more in six years. Lisman sold the Fury in 2008 to Stacey Patulskey, Jeff Patulskey and Tim Taylor, who changed the team's name to Muskegon Lumberjacks. The newly christened Lumberjacks were strong on the ice, even making the (now) Turner Cup Finals in 2009. Off the ice was a different story, as the sagging economy led to fewer and fewer paying customers. In 2010, it was announced that the Lumberjacks were folding and being replaced by a USHL franchise with the same name. The new Lumberjacks still exist to this day, though under new ownership.

References:
Colonial Hockey League Statistics: 1995-96 (from hockeydb.com)

Detroit Red Wings (NHL, 1971-72)

1971-72 Regular Season--Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues
     The Detroit Red Wings had a noticeable absence in their locker room heading into the 1971-72 season. Legendary Gordie Howe retired after the 1970-71 season. Only Alex Delvecchio remained from the 1955 Stanley Cup roster, and he would continue until 1974. The times were changing at the Olympia.
     After such a miserable 1970-71 season, the Red Wings could look forward to the second overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft. (Note: They picked behind the Montreal Canadiens, who won the 1971 Stanley Cup. Montreal got the #1 pick from the California Golden Seals in an incredibly one-sided deal...which probably explains why the Golden Seals no longer exist.). The Wings used that pick on St. Catherines Black Hawks star Marcel Dionne. In a very unpopular move (for both sides), the Wings also sent rising star Garry Unger to the St. Louis Blues for star center Red Berenson.
     Bruce Norris was still owner of the franchise and Harkness was back as General Manager after his nightmarish first season. Doug Barkley also returned behind the bench. He would only last 11 games (with a 3-8-0 record) before being canned in favor of another ex-Wing, Johnny Wilson. Under Wilson, the Red Wings improved their play, going 30-27-10 to finish 33-35-10 on the season. Their 76 points were not enough to qualify for the playoffs in the tough East Division, just four back of fourth place Toronto. On the other hand, it would have been more than enough to comfortably finish in third place in the expansion-heavy West Division. Sadly, this season would be one of the best the Red Wings had in the entire decade!
     Detroit didn't have much of a problem scoring goals that year, as they were the fourth best with 261 goals. Dionne would have an immediate impact on the Red Wings, leading the team with 77 points on the strength of 28 goals. Mickey Redmond proved to be a great acquisition for the Wings, scoring 42 goals to lead the team. Three other players, including the ageless Delvecchio, scored over 20 goals.
     Team defense was improved slightly over last season, as the Wings allowed 262 goals on the year, fifth-highest in the league. Three men tended goal for the Wings that year: Joe Daley, Al Smith and Andy Brown. Smith got the majority of time between the pipes, going 18-20-4 with a 3.24 GAA and 4 shutouts. Daley went 11-10-5 with and even better 3.15 GAA in 29 games. Brown went 4-5-1 with a 3.96 GAA in 10 games.
     As stated earlier, the Wings just missed the playoffs, and were kind of the victim of a lopsided division setup. The West Division only had Chicago and Minnesota with records above .500, and the Wings would have easily qualified in that division. This program is from the October 17, 1971, game against the St. Louis Blues. The Red Wings knocked off the Blues, 5-3, for their first win of the year.
     Lots of wear-and-tear on this program, but all 44 pages are present and accounted for. Similar format to the previous year's program, with mostly black-and-white ads and pictures. There are articles about Red Wing Tim Eccelstone and the Wings preseason tilt with the Blues, their first games against former teammates Garry Unger, Carl Brewer and Wayne Connelly. There's aslo a cartoon called "Sticks and Yuks" by Mackey which points out how the Blues netminders have big nets to fill after Glenn Hall retired. Full page pictures include Red Wing Alan Karlander and Blue Terry Crisp. The Upcoming Events section includes a picture of pro wrestling legend Dick the Bruiser, "The World's Most Dangerous Man". Car ads include the '72 Chevrolet Chevelle, '72 Ford Gran Torino, '72 Buick Riviera and the '72 Dodge Charger. Local ads include Stu Evans Lincoln-Mercury, Michigan Popcorn Company, Carl's Chop House and WKBD Channel 50.

Aftermath: The phrase "Darkness with Harkness" was an understatement. Harkness's complete incompetence as a GM drove the Red Wings into the ground, going through coaches and players like Kleenex. The fans' hatred of Harkness would only be equalled by future Detroit GM flops Randy Smith and Matt Millen. The Wings were far out the playoffs when Norris finally fired Harkness in 1974, replacing him with Alex Delvecchio. The franchise continued to struggle, bottoming out completely in 1976-77, with a disastrous 16-55-9 record. They made the playoffs just once more in the 1970s, making it to the second round in 1978. By then, both Mickey Redmond and Marcel Dionne were long gone, due to injury (Redmond) and trade (Dionne). The Wings would continue to flounder until they were purchased by Mike Illitch in 1982. They would slowly make their way back to prominence throughout the next 15 years, until finally winning the Stanley Cup in 1997. They would win three more since.

References:
National Hockey League Statistics: 1971-72 (from hockeydb.com)
 

Detroit Red Wings (NHL, 1970-71)

1970-71 Regular Season--Red Wings v.s Minnesota North Stars
     1970-71 was the 44th season of play for the Detroit Red Wings. After making the Stanley Cup Finals four times in the 1960s (losing each time), the franchise collapsed. The Wings missed the playoffs in 1967 and 1968. They rebounded in 1970, but were quickly swept away by Chicago in the first round.
     In 1970-71, the Red Wings were still owned by Bruce Norris, whose family had owned the team since the 1930s. Norris would hire a name that would become infamous in Detroit sports that offseason: Ned Harkness, fresh from the college ranks. Harkness would immediately clash with his players, many of which did not care for his "rah-rah", often profane outbursts behind the bench. Not surprisingly, the Wings got off to a miserable 12-22-4 start. GM Sid Abel, after hearing numerous complaints from the players, approached Norris to see if he had the power to fire Harkness. When Norris said no, Abel resigned in disgust. Norris then promoted Harkness to GM, who then hired ex-Wing Doug Barkley as his replacement behind the bench. Barkley did even worse, as the Wings went 10-23-7 the rest of the way to finish with a 22-45-11 record, dead last in the East Division, 66 points behind league-best Boston. Embarrassingly, the Wings finished behind both new expansion franchises that year! Only the inept California Golden Seals were worse than the Red Wings. The low-point of the season would be a 13-0 annihilation in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada.
     The Red Wings scored the fourth-fewest goals that year, just 209. Tom Webster led the team on offense, scoring 30 goals to go with 67 points. Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio, the last two ties to the franchise's glory years of the 1950s, were the only other Wings to score over 20 goals that year.
     Team defense was a big problem in 1970-71, as the Wings allowed 309 goals, second only to the Golden Seals. Four different goaltenders guarded the Detroit crease that year, with Roy Edwards and Jim Rutherford playing the majority of the games. Edwards went 11-19-7 with a 3.39 GAA in 37 games. Rutherford (a future executive in Carolina), went 7-15-3 in his rookie year, and would go on to a long career in the NHL, the majority of it spent with the Red Wings.
     With a season as forgettable as that, the Wings would obviously miss the playoffs that year. In fact, they would miss the playoffs each year until 1977-78.
     This program is from a January 17, 1971, game against the Minnesota North Stars. This was Gordie Howe's final season with the Wings, and Mr. Hockey graces the cover of the program. Mickey Redmond was just acquired from Montreal for Frank Mahovolich by then, and would go on to be the team's first fifty goal-scorer two seasons later. The North Stars featured Danny Grant, another future 50-goal scorer for the Wings. In net, the Stars featured Cesare Maniago and legendary Gump Worsley, a tandem nicknamed "Mutt and Jeff". Minnesota would skate away with a 2-0 shutout at the Olympia that night.
     This program is 44 pages long, with numerous in-game pictures. There is an article about the 1971 All-Star Game, which was broadcast on Channel 50 that year from Boston. There are also articles about North Stars players Cesare Maniago and Danny Grant, and full-page pictures of Tom Webster and Jude Drouin. Nice muscle car ads in here too, including the '71 Camaro and the '71 Ford Torino Cobra. Local advertisements include Red Pelican Mustard, Stroh's Beer (still a Detroit company back then), Pfeiffer Beer and Stu Evans Lincoln-Mercury.

References:
National Hockey League Statistics: 1970-71 (from hockeydb.com)

Detroit Red Wings (NHL, 1963-64)

1963-64 Regular Season--Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
     The Detroit Red Wings were in the middle of their 37th year of existence during the 1963-64 season. The franchise was owned by Bruce Norris and played their home games at Olympia Stadium. Former "Production Line" center Sid Abel was back behind the bench and took on the role of General Manager as well.
     On December 31, 1963, the Red Wings would ring in the new year with a game against their arch-rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, having routed the Wings in five games the previous season.
     This season was toward the end of the fabled "Original Six" era in the NHL, as the league fielded only a half-dozen teams from 1942-43 to 1966-67. As a result, most NHL rosters were pretty strong. The Red Wings were no different, as they had eight future Hall of Famers on their roster. They are Terry Sawchuck, Marcel Pronovost, Bill Gadsby, Norm Ullman, Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Sid Abel. The Leafs countered with their own Hall of Fame lineup: Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Tim Horton, George Armstrong, Ron Stewart, Dave Keon, Bob Pulford, Dick Duff, Bob Baun, Allen Stanley, Frank Mahovolich and coach Punch Imlach. Defenseman Carl Brewer, btw, was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. The Leafs would win that night's game, 5-4, in front of 14,284 fans.
     The Red Wings had a so-so season that year, going a mediocre 30-29-11, good enough for fourth, 14 points behind league-best Montreal. They qualified for the last playoff spot that year, finishing 17 points ahead of fifth place New York. The Wings were also fourth in goals-scored, denting the twine 191 times. Gordie Howe led the way with 26 goals and 73 points. Three more players scored over 20 goals that season.
     On defense, Detroit finished fourth overall as well, allowing 204 goals that year. They used five different goaltenders that year, but the main two were Sawchuk and Roger Crozier. Sawchuk was in net for 53 games, going 25-20-7 with a 2.64 GAA and 5 shutouts. Crozier went 5-6-4 with a 3.40 GAA and 2 shutouts of his own. Hank Bassen, Pat Rupp and Harrison Gray each made it into one game.
     The Red Wings drew the Chicago Blackhawks in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Chicago finished just one point behind Montreal in the standings that year, and featured stars like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall. In a back-and-forth series, the Red Wings overcame a 3-2 deficit to down the Hawks in seven games to advance to the finals. Again, they would face the Leafs for the Stanley Cup, but this time, the series would go the limit. The Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead back to Detroit, but lost a heartbreaking Game Six, 4-3, in overtime. Toronto would win their third Cup in a row at Maple Leaf Gardens two nights later. This would be the final time the Leafs and Red Wings would meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, and last playoff matchup between the two rivals until 1986-87.
     I believe I bought this program at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens several years ago. It's in very nice shape, not tears or major creases. The program is 28 pages long, mostly with black-and-white pictures. There are some color ads. There are a few articles from around the league, including one about Jacques Plante's struggles in the Rangers' net and the end of defenseman Doug Harvey's great career. Plenty of ads for cars (it is the Motor City, after all), including the '64 Chevy Corvair, '64 Ford Falcon and the Buick Riviera. Other local ads include Stu Evans Lincoln Mercury, Peters Weiners (a hot dog company!), Vernors (still a Detroit company then) and Krun-Chee Potato Chips. There's also an ad for a "Stanley Cup NHL Hockey" table-top game.

References:
National Hockey League Statistics: 1963-64 (from hockeydb.com)

Cleveland Barons (AHL, 1946-47)

1946-47 Regular Season--Barons vs. Indianapolis Capitals
     The Cleveland Barons were a long-time member of the American Hockey League, the second-highest level of pro hockey in North America. They existed from 1937-73 and played their home games at Cleveland Arena, a 9953-seat arena.
     In 1946-47, the Barons were coached by former New York Rangers star forward Frederick "Bun" Cook, who would coach the team from 1943-56. His Barons would win the AHL Western Division crown by one point, edging out second place Buffalo. Cleveland's 38-18-8 record and 84 points would tie the Hershey Bears for first overall that season, with Cleveland winning the regular season with two more victories. This program is from a November 30, 1946, game against the Indianapolis Capitals, who were coached by future Red Wings coach Tommy Ivan. Cook's Cleveland bunch won this game, 7-3, to improve their record to 13-4-0.
     Cook's Barons would score the third-most goals in the AHL that season, with 272. Bob Carse led the team in scoring, with 27 goals and 88 points. Johnny Holota scored the most goals, lighting the lamp 52 times. Five other players scored at least 20 goals.
     Cleveland was fourth-best in the goals-against department, allowing 215 pucks to cross the goal line that season. The Barons employed two different goaltenders. Roger Bessette, who played 24 games that season, had a familiar partner in the Barons crease that season. Johnny Bower was in his third year of pro hockey by this season. Bower would play 40 games for the Barons that year, and would continue to tend
goal for the Barons through the 1950s. Bower would finally make it to the NHL by the 1952-53 season. He wouldn't stick in the NHL until 1958-59 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
     In the playoffs, the Barons would, strangely enough, face the East Division champion Hershey Bears in Round One. Despite finishing so close in the standings, the Bears obliterated the Barons in four straight games. Cleveland managed only 3 goals in the series, and were shut out twice. Hershey would earn a second-round bye, then win the Calder Cup championship in seven games over the Pittsburgh Hornets, erasing a 3-1 series deficit in the process.
     This program is in surprisingly good shape for it's age. There are three strips of tape along the binding, but I'm not seeing any tears or water damage. All the ads are in black and white, and quite a few of them are full-page. Local advertisements include the Hotel Mayflower ("Home of the Famed Terrace Room"), Harry Mamolen's Restaurant and Mexican Cocktail Bar, Regal Beer ("Cleveland's Prince of Beers") and Steve Gresch's Nickel Plate Grill. There are also team pictures of the 1946-47 Barons, the 1946-47 Cleveland Rebels basketball team and the 1946-47 Cleveland Browns (of the All-America Football Conference!). Note the flags on the cover of the program. This was before Canada became it's own country, so the British Union Jack is displayed with the United States flag.

Aftermath: The Barons would make headlines in the early 1950s by issuing an open challenge to the  Stanley Cup champions, then applied to join the NHL. They were turned down both times. The Barons would win nine Calder Cups in their existence, the last coming in 1963-64. The team would be forced out of Cleveland in 1973, with the arrival of the WHA's Cleveland Crusaders. In January, 1973, the Barons would relocate to, of all places, Jacksonville, Florida. Attendance slumped for the Barons after their first game in their new home, and the franchise folded after the season. Two other franchises used the "Cleveland Barons" moniker after the AHL team: The NHL's California Seals from 1976-78 and the AHL's Kentucky Thoroughblades from 2001-06. Both teams struggled to draw fans and left shortly afterward. Cleveland is currently home to the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters.


Resources:
American Hockey League Statistics: 1946-47 (from hockeydb.com)