Three more players will be enshrined in the Seals Hall of Fame in 2017, and the choice is yours as to who those three players will be. If you scroll down a little and look to your right, you will find the Seals Hall of Fame survey. Ten players have been shortlisted for membership in the Hall of Fame. You may vote as many times as you like, but only once per device. You may also write-in your own vote, if you like. The three players with the most votes will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the one-year anniversary of Golden Seals Hockey. To help you along in making a wise decision, you will find below short biographies of each player, and their contributions to the franchise.
WHL Seals career regular-season stats: 230 GP, 92 G, 145 A, 237 PTS, 101 PIM
WHL Seals career playoff stats: 24 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS, 17 PIM
NHL Seals career stats: 73 GP, 9 G, 26 A, 35 PTS, 20 PIM, -14 +/-
The helmeted Charlie Burns was a standout performer for the San Francisco Seals for four years, including the club’s 1963-64 championship season, and one more year with the Oakland Seals of the NHL. He had been an outstanding penalty-killer with the Boston Bruins before landing in San Francisco, but with the Seals he was given free rein to rush up the ice and score goals. He was a highly respected, hard-working player with the Seals, becoming the team’s alternate captain in 1963-64, and co-captain in 1965-66. Burns also became the Seals’ second-ever player-coach the latter season, replacing Bud Poile behind the bench. In 1966-67, Burns returned to a strictly playing role, and became the Seals’ sole captain, but when Rudy Pilous needed some time off to scout NHL clubs in preparation for the expansion draft, Burns spent two more stints behind the Seals’ bench, accumulating an overall record of 22-13-3.
Burns holds the WHL Seals’ all-time record for goals by a center (92). He also holds the single-season records for assists-per-game average (.875 in 1965-66) and goals by a center (33 in 1963-64). Burns led the Seals in assists (38) in 1966-67. He won the Coleman E. Hall Trophy as the Seals’ leading scorer (69 points) in 1963-64, and he won the Booster Club Trophy in 1964 and 1965 as the team’s most popular player.
In the NHL, Burns assisted on the Seals’ first-ever regular-season goal (scored by Kent Douglas, Oct. 11, 1967 vs Philadelphia). He would end up third in team scoring with 35 points during the Seals’ first NHL season, and his 26 assists led the team.
WHL Seals career regular-season stats: 242 GP, 108 G, 123 A, 231 PTS, 340 PIM
WHL Seals career playoff stats: 30 GP, 12 G, 16 A, 28 PTS, 39 PIM
Len Haley flew under the radar most of his time in San Francisco, but he was one of the most quietly consistent players on the roster. Haley played a big role in the Seals’ two WHL championships, scoring 28 points in 28 games in the 1963 and 1964 playoffs. In the former season he led the team in goals with eight. Over the course of his four seasons with the Seals, he set team records for goals (108), assists (123), and points (231) by a right wing. He is one of only three players to record more than one 30-goal season (1962-63 and 1963-64).
It seemed as though every year, Haley was near the top of the Seals scoring list. In 1962-63, he finished second in goals (36). The next year, he led the team in red lights (35) while finishing second in points (68). In 1964-65, he again finished second in points, even though he scored a personal-best 72.
Haley won the team’s Golden Gate Trophy as most popular player in both 1964 and 1965.
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 262 GP, 79 G, 101 A, 180 PTS, -72 +/-
NHL Seals career playoff stats: 11 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS, 6 PIM
Bill Hicke played right wing on the Seals’ Assembly Line (with Ted Hampson and Gary Jarrett), and he was one of the best players the Seals had during their first few NHL seasons. He stands among the NHL Seals all-time leaders in goals (4th), assists (5th), and points (5th) in 262 games played from 1967 to 1971. He was an alternate captain for the club from 1969-71.
Hicke led the Seals in goals (21 in just 52 games), and game-winning goals (4) in 1967-68. The 12 power-play goals he scored that season set a franchise record that was never broken. Hicke holds other single-season franchise records for a right wing, including most assists (36 in 1968-69), and most points (61). He also has the distinction of having scored the fastest two goals in Seals history (9 seconds vs. Los Angeles, Oct. 17, 1969). He is one of only six Seals to record at least two 20-goal seasons. Hicke holds the all-time franchise record for power-play goals scored (25) and is tied for the all-time franchise mark of 10 game-winning goals.
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 171 GP, 51 G, 43 A, 94 PTS, -100 +/-
“The Riverton Rifle” was one of the most talented, if not THE most talented player to ever wear the Seals’ uniform. He was undoubtedly the purest goal-scorer to ever play for the Seals. Although his Bay Area stay was brief (171 games from 1971-72 to 1973-74), his impact was huge. He is one of only six Seals/Barons to have had two 20-goal seasons, and he accomplished this in back-to-back seasons (1972-73 and 1973-74). In 1972-73, he led the team in game-winning goals and shots on goal (184). He also recorded a hat-trick vs. Chicago on January 6, 1974. Leach would go on to super-stardom after being traded to Philadelphia after the 1973-74 season, scoring 61 regular-season and 19 playoff goals in 1975-76, and capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He also won the Stanley Cup in 1974-75 as a member of the Flyers.
WHL Seals career regular-season stats: 266 GP, 105 G, 172 A, 277 PTS, 96 PIM
WHL Seals career playoff stats: 30 GP, 8 G, 22 A, 30 PTS, 10 PIM
Nick Mickoski was a superstar for the San Francisco Seals from 1961 to 1965, and when coach Bud Poile decided to step down and concentrate on just his general manager duties, Mickoski became the Seals’ first player-coach. With Mickoski behind the bench, the floundering Seals, sitting well below .500, went 9-5-1 to close out the season, and 8-3 during the 1964 playoffs en route to their second consecutive championship.
As a player, Mickoski’s name is littered throughout the WHL Seals’ record book. He won the Coleman E. Hall Trophy as the team’s leading scorer in 1962-63, and he also won the team’s Player of the Year award. The WHL recognized him as the league’s all-star left winger as well, the only time a Seals player was named to a post-season all-star team.
Mickoski holds the WHL Seals all-time record for assists by a left wing (172), most goals by a left wing in one season (41 in 1962-63), most points in one season (95 in 1962-63) and highest points per game average in one season (1.40 in 1962-63). However, 1962-63 wasn’t his only great season. He also led the Seals in goals (31) in 1961-62 and finished second in points (79) that same year. Mickoski is one of only three players to record more than one 30-goal season with the Seals (1961-62 and 1962-63), and one of only two players to record a 40-goal season (41 in 1962-63).
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 206 GP, 59 G, 72 A, 131 PTS, -36 +/-
Bob Murdoch was always overshadowed by his 3-M Line cohorts Dennis Maruk and Al MacAdam, but that didn’t mean the talented Murdoch didn’t leave a lasting impression of his own. He scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, October 8, 1975 versus Atlanta, and finished his rookie season with an impressive 22 goals and 49 points. That same year, he set franchise records for longest goal-scoring streak (7 games) and point streak (8 games, later equaled by Maruk in 1978). Murdoch led the Seals in power-play goals (9) in 1975-76, and tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (3) in 1976-77 and (4) in 1977-78. In 1976-77, he also led the team in shooting percentage (16.3). That same season, Murdoch recorded 23 goals and 42 points, but had he not missed 23 games due to injury he likely would have set career-highs in all offensive categories. He also scored the Cleveland Barons’ only hat-trick of 1976-77, against Detroit, December 15, 1976.
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 213 GP, 9 G, 61 A, 70 PTS, -82 +/-
Jim Neilson was already a seasoned veteran when he arrived in Oakland in 1974. His experience was a major reason for the Seals’ improvement in the goals-against column. He was awarded the Seals MVP award for 1974-75 and he was also named the team’s best defenseman. The following season he was named the Seals’ captain, replacing the departed Joey Johnston, but Neilson was injured shortly into the season. When he returned for the 1976-77 season, he remained the team’s co-captain, sharing duties with Bob Stewart.
WHL Seals career regular-season stats: 349 GP, 127 G, 158 A, 285 PTS, 103 PIM
WHL Seals career playoff stats: 37 GP, 13 G, 18 A, 31 PTS, 10 PIM
Al Nicholson was a key member of the San Francisco Seals from 1961 to 1966 (349 games). He is the WHL Seals’ all-time leader in goals and points. His middle name should have been “Consistency” because you could count on Al to deliver the goods every year. He is the only player in Seals history to record five 20-goal seasons. He also holds the Seals’ all-time record for playoff goals (13), and he is tied for the all-time lead in playoff points (31). He also helped the Seals capture the Lester Patrick Cup in 1963 and 1964.
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 211 GP, 62 W, 113 L, 27 T, 11,870 MINS, 6,639 SA, 659 GA, 9 SO, .900 SV%
NHL Seals career playoff stats: 11 GP, 3 W, 8 L, 669 MINS, 358 SA, 36 GA, 0 SO, .899 SV%
When one talks about the greatest goalies in the history of the California Golden Seals, there are two names that consistently come up: Gilles Meloche and Gary “Suitcase” Smith. Smith was fortunate to play for the Seals at a time when the team had depth, skill and a fairly solid defense, and as a result, Smith is the only goalie in team history to play a playoff game (11 overall, from 1969 to 1970).
Smith recorded the highest career winning percentage by an NHL Seals goaltender (.382), as well as the highest career save percentage by an NHL Seals goaltender (.900). Smith also holds numerous single-season records, including most games played (71 in 1970-71), most shutouts (4 in 1968-69 – tied with Meloche), most wins (22 in 1968-69)*, most shots faced (unofficially 2,230 in 1969-70), most saves (unofficially 2,035 in 1969-70), highest average number of shots faced per game (unofficially 35.57 in 1969-70), and save percentage (.913 in 1969-70). He also holds the club record for shots against (63 vs Boston, March 4, 1971) and saves in one game (56 vs Boston, March 4, 1971). Smith is the only Seals goalie to finish a season with a .500 record (22-20-7 in 1968-69)*.
Smith’s last season with the Seals, 1970-71, was an absolute nightmare, and how he survived it is anyone’s guess. He led the entire NHL in games played (71), minutes played (3975), shots against (2212), and, not surprisingly goals against (256) and losses (48), the latter of which is still an NHL record likely to never be broken.
He was also known as the goaltender who was so difficult to tie down that the NHL had to create a rule to get him to stop roaming out to centre ice. The rule, informally known as “The Gary Smith Rule” prohibits goaltenders from skating past the centre red line to score a goal.
* Note: the NHL does not recognize this as being Smith’s official record – the league says he finished 21-24-7, but after having verified the game summaries of every contest that season, I can assure you without a shadow of a doubt that Smith’s true record is 22-20-7.
NHL Seals career regular-season stats: 414 GP, 19 G, 80 A, 99 PTS, 691 PIM, -207 +/-
The tough-as-nails Bob Stewart may not have set the world on fire with his offensive skills, but his contributions to the Seals and Barons cannot be overlooked. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in penalty minutes (691), games played (414) and season played (7). His leadership skills were appreciated by teammates as he was named an alternate captain in 1974-75, and became team captain the following year when Jim Neilson was injured. In 1976-77, he remained co-captain, and he a stabilizing presence for his teammates, representing them in the bitter negotiations with owner Mel Swig when the Cleveland Barons were on the verge of folding, and were unable to pay their players.
Stewart won multiple awards during his time with the Seals, including the Most Popular Player Award in 1972-73 and the Seals Best Defenseman Award in 1975-76. He led the Seals in penalty minutes in 1972-73 (181) and 1973-74 (69) despite playing in only 47 games the latter season.