Thursday, March 13, 2014
Two things work against this team being the worst of all time. First of all while they were bottom five for eight straight years it was in a league ranging in size from 14 to 18 teams so while that is impressive (more impressive is the fact they had no playoff appearances in that time span) its not that big a deal compared to some of their competitors.
Secondly they had a blip of two years between their first season and the beginning of this streak where they made the playoffs. Those teams were terrible and were helped by the league putting all of their expansion teams in one division but for two seasons at least there was hope before it all collapsed into nothingness. If they had bottomed out right from the beginning they would probably be number one but they finished second in the West in 1969 the bastards.
The 70s were crazy times man, this team's demise fits right in.
Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons (1971-1978)
Length - 8 seasons
Losing Seasons - 8
Bottom Five In League - 8
Last Overall - 2
Worst Season - 1973/1974 78 games, 13 wins, 36 points
Playoff Appearances - 0
Playoff Wins - 0
Weirdness - Where to start. The original owner sold the team after two seasons but (shades of John Spano) the new ownership group filed for bankruptcy and it reverted to the first owner. He then sold it to Charlie Finley whom the NHL selected over a higher and more detailed bid. Two games (!!!!!) into the first season under Finley they changed the team name from the Oakland Seals to the California Golden Seals. Three months into the first season under Finley the new GM, some guy named Bill Torrey, resigned, never to be heard from again.
Under Finley they famously wore white skates after first wearing green and gold skates (the style at the time was to wear skates in team colours apparently).
!n 1974 the league took over the team.
In 1976 the team moved to Cleveland.
In 1978 the team folded, the first NHL club to fold entirely since 1942. What remained of the carcass was absorbed by the Minnesota North Stars.
The Good - There is nothing, no goodness to be found, except for those funky uniforms.
The Bad - In 1970/71 the Seals finished last, behind two expansion teams. They had traded the first overall pick in the draft the previous year to Montreal for Montreal's first round pick in 1970 (the Seals picked Chris Oddleifson), Ernie Hicke and money. Montreal picked some guy named Guy Lafleur.
The Bad - When the WHA started up the Seals had improved from dead last to 13th overall (out of 16 clubs). Finley refused to pay higher salaries and five of his top ten scorers bolted for the rebel league.
The Bad - In three consecutive years (1971-1973) the Seals had no first round picks despite being horrible
The Bad - They had seven GMs in eight years
The Bad - After moving to Cleveland attendance was worse than in Oakland. The team drew over 10000 fans seven times out of forty games in their first season. The home opener was not one of those games (8900 fans)
The End Game - the franchise moved and then it died. It disappeared into nothingness.
Why They Aren't Ranked Higher - this was a bit of a tough one because a big part of me thought they could be or should be number one especially seeing as how the franchise actually died. I mean how bad can it get right? In the end there were one thing that weighed against them in my opinion and that was longevity. Their run was only eight years and three of their main competitors were a dozen years or longer and the fourth was eleven years and might be considered longer (more on that shortly).
What We Learned - Unlike Gary Bettman the old time guys weren't afraid to put a sick dog down. NHL owners didn't vet the people who wanted to join their club back then either. And while bad drafting can doom you to a long trek in the wilderness, no first round picks at all will leave you gut shot in the desert, bleeding out for days while the coyotes close in.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:27 PM