The Seals and Flyers in Madison Square Garden?

Hi everyone! Recently I started reading George Grimm’s excellent book, We Did Everything But Win, about the history of the Emile Francis New York Rangers, and I started thinking about an article I had about an unusual moment in Seals history.  This week, in the articles section, I’ve added a great piece about the famous night in which two games were played in one day at Madison Square Garden, one of which featured the Seals, who were in the midst of their very first NHL season.  I’ll let Golden Seals Hockey subscriber Reg Lansberry explain this one, since this is really his area of expertise. Here’s an abridged version of what Reg wrote to me about the article he sent me a few months back:

“It was on Sunday, March 3, 1968 at the brand spanking new Madison Square Garden. The Rangers had defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, March 2, and were slated to meet Chicago on Sunday in another matinee contest. (The Garden, which will celebrate its Golden Anniversary during the upcoming 2017-18 campaign, had opened just two weeks earlier on Sunday, February 18, 1968.  The Rangers posted a 3-1 victory over the Flyers.  After Wayne Hicks scored for the Flyers, Rangers’ captain Bob Nevin tied the game —against Doug Favell— as the Rangers went on to post a 3-1 victory.)

“For purposes of brevity, I will try to keep the details short.  The Seals game I am writing about was a 1-1 tie vs. the Flyers . . . on Sunday afternoon, March 3, 1968, at MSG.  Rather than bog you down with the New Testament . . . following is a fairly brief synopsis for you:
“… It was on Friday, March 1, 1968, that the brand-new Spectrum roof in Philadelphia was badly damaged by a terrible storm. As a result, the Flyers were now, suddenly, “homeless”!  They were scheduled to play the Oakland Seals there on Sunday NIGHT, March 3.  (Oakland was playing in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.)  The sudden dilemma confronting Flyers’ chairman Ed Snider was that the Philadelphia Arena —the only possible alternate venue in the City of Brotherly Love— was far too small to accommodate the tickets that the Flyers had already sold for the Seals’ game.

“… Most unusually, the Rangers were slated to play a weekend matinee on March 2-3, 1968.  They have done that just twice in the 49 years since! (By tradition, the N.Y. Knicks always play at MSG on Saturday night; the Rangers on Sunday night.)  Obviously, the Rangers wanted to promote the new, two-week-old building with Rangers’ fans . . . including businessmen who could take their children that weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, the Rangers defeated the Flyers, 4-0. Ed Giacomin was in net for the Rangers, Bernie Parent for Philadelphia.  But what would the Flyers do now??  

“… Into the breach stepped Rangers’ president William M. (Bill) Jennings.  He convinced NHL president Clarence Campbell to have the Flyers stay overnight (Saturday) in NYC . . . and play the Seals in a MATINEE game on SUNDAY.  It would be the opener of a Day-Night NHL Doubleheader!  The Rangers-Chicago game would follow the Flyers-Seals contest.  Flyers’ ticket holders who made the trek to NYC would be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.  All other hockey/Rangers’ fans would be admitted for a nominal charge . . . again with Open Seating for all!

“… INTERESTINGLY . . . given that the Flyers now had played the Rangers in BOTH of their 1967-68 meetings at the new MSG (February 18 and March 2), they would have, at least, a presumed “Home Ice Advantage” over the Seals.  Reason:  Not only had Oakland never played in the new MSG . . . but as fate would have it . . . they had already played both (two) of their games vs. Rangers in New York for the 1967-68 season . . . but at the “old” Garden! (The Rangers won both contests; they defeated Oakland all four times that they met during 1967-68.)

“… Flyers’ goalie Doug Favell, with whom I have already spoken, had already played in the “new” Garden (Sunday, February 18). He played on Sunday afternoon vs. Oakland . . . which ended in a 1-1 tie.  The late Charlie Hodge started in goal for the Seals.  He was injured with Gary “Suitcase” Smith coming on in relief.  Don Blackburn scored for Philadelphia; ex-Rangers’ defenseman Larry Cahan tallied on a 55-foot slap shot in the second period for Oakland.  

“… I have very definite memories of waiting in the MSG lobby on Sunday afternoon while waiting for the “early game” to finish.  I had turned age 13 just a few months before.  As you can imagine, as I look back, I dearly wish I had attended the Seals-Flyers game.
“… That night, the Rangers posted a 4-0 victory over Chicago.  Needless to say, Ed Giacomin’s “dual shutout weekend” for the Rangers was the epitome of “efficiency.”  So although I did not get to see Bobby Hull or Stan Mikita or Ken Wharram or Pierre Pilote score for Chicago, it was great enough to see the Rangers win during my first-ever visit to the new iteration of MSG.”
So as not to disappoint those of you who enjoy studying some of the most embarrassing hockey photos ever put to cardboard, we’ve got a classic from the mid-1990s that some of you may remember seeing as you sat there eating your Kraft Dinner. I’m talking about the infamous Daren Puppa nickname card. Just read over his name and you can probably figure out what nickname I’m talking about, but if you can’t, take a gander at this memorable blunder.
That’s it for new stuff this week, but keep coming back for more classic hockey photos, articles, and other goodies involving the California Golden Seals. If you haven’t done so already, please vote for your picks for the Seals Hall of Fame. If you’ve got nothing to do, I’d really appreciate it if you headed on over to Amazon to leave some feedback about my book. Sales have been great so far, and I have to say thanks to all of you for helping make that happen. Thanks for all your support!
Until next time, stay gold!


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