“Seals Fire Coach Bert Olmstead” (by Spence Conley) – Apr. 14, 1968 – download here
This is my teeny, tiny little contribution to correcting NHL history! This Oakland Tribune article finally sets the record straight on how many games Bert Olmstead and Gordie Fashoway actually coached in Oakland. Unfortunately, I lost the second part of this article, so you only get the first page, but I find it interesting anyway because I’ve seen books that claim Fashoway coached only ten games, meaning Olmstead coached 64, but Fashoway actually coached 21 and Olmstead 53, so both of their win-loss-tie records are drastically different than what the NHL has always claimed, and this article finally proves it. Also, it should be noted that another article from March indicates that Olmstead was back home in Saskatchewan as his mother lay dying, so he definitely was not coaching the Seals at that time, meaning Fashoway must have coach much more than ten games.
“Turning Points” (by Steve Currier) – download here
This article was published in 2015 by the Society for International Hockey Research for their annual Journal. Here, I detail the ten most important moments in franchise history, some good, some bad, some atrocious. It is a good starting point for anyone interested in reading the highlights of the Seals’ 17-year history.
“Bad, Bad Blood: the California Golden Seals-Philadelphia Flyers Rivalry” – download here
In the mid-1970s, the Flyers were the NHL’s premier punchers, while the Seals were the league’s premier punching bags. Why these two teams became bitter rivals is all because one night, a rookie defenseman up for a cup of coffee in the big league’s took a shot at Bobby Clarke.
“Seals Beaten, 8-3, in Debut” – Oct. 14, 1961 – download here
The Seals’ WHL life didn’t get off to a very good start, but that would change before long. That’s not to say the team wouldn’t have struggles in the future, but at least there were a few bright moments to look forward to. Fun fact: I learned in this San Mateo Times article that “a weak defense was blamed for the loss by most observers”. That’s why we read books and articles, people! Where else would you learn that giving up eight goals is believed to be caused by crappy defense? Soon they’ll be telling us that scoring eight goals is a result of good offense!
“Seals Open Home Stand Tonight” – Nov. 17, 1961 – download here
Some of you may not know this, but the old San Francisco Seals, the NHL Seals’ predecessors, opened their first season on an almost unfathomable 14-game road trip. The Cow Palace was not yet ready to accommodate the new Western Hockey League team, so the Seals had no choice but to pack their suitcases, which must have been incredibly heavy to last a 14-game trip, and live their lives in hotels and greasy spoons. Not surprisingly, the expansion Seals went a dismal 4-10 during this trip, so they must have been thrilled to be returning home, where they would play 19 or their next 22 games. How the Seals finished 29-39-2 and qualified for the playoffs is anybody’s guess. Another interesting thing I learned in this San Mateo TImes article is that Jack Adams and Eddie Shore are apparently hockey “greats”. I’m not sure who the author of this article was quoting, but it’s still nice that he didn’t just jump to any conclusions and start throwing that word around all willy-nilly to describe hockey stars.
“Record Crowd Sees Seals Do It” (by Hugh McDonald) – May 7, 1963 – download here
San Francisco celebrated its first Western Hockey League title after the Seals defeated the Seattle Totems in overtime of game 7 of a classic series. This article was published in the San Mateo Times on May 7, 1963.
“Seals Win Patrick Cup Again” (by Spence Conley) – Apr. 18, 1964 – download here
The title of this Oakland Tribune article says it all. The Seals had struggled mightily throughout the regular season, and finished with a sub .500 record, but once the playoffs started, the team caught fire and steamrolled its way to another championship.
“The Fickle Finger of Fate” (by Steve Currier) – download here
This article is about the Seals’ unusual 1965-66 playoff run, in which it seemed the hockey gods were just toying with the poor Seals. It was posted on the Society for International Hockey Research blog on March 8, 2015. It can be accessed online at http://sihr.ca/__a/public/column.cfm?cid=3&aid=353. Other blog entries on various topics such as statistics, college hockey, pre-NHL hockey, and biographies of forgotten stars can also be found on the SIHR website. If you enjoy reading articles such as this, or you would like to contribute to the hockey history community, don’t be shy to become a member! If you like hockey at all, there is something for you here.
“Gulls Plain Rude to Seals, 11-2” – Apr. 3, 1967 – download here
In this, the Seals last-ever regular-season Western Hockey League game, parimutuel clerk Tommy Green strapped on the pads to relieve a resting Jack McCartan, and the result was awful, awful, awful.
“Canadien Goalie Picked 1st By Seals” (by Spence Conley) – June 6, 1967 – download here
Meet your 1967-68 California Seals! Don’t get too used to the name though; it would be just 25 games before the team became the Oakland Seals. This article was published in the Oakland Tribune in June 1967.
“Late Seal Scores Tie Kings” (by Spence Conley) – Sep. 22, 1967 – download here
Need proof Jacques Plante was once a member of the California Seals? Here is an Oakland Tribune article detailing his first and last game with the Bay Area’s NHL entry.
“Bert Olmstead of the Seals” (by Hugh McDonald) – Oct. 7, 1967 – download here
On the eve of the Seals’ first NHL season, the San Mateo Times profiled the team’s first coach. The article contains some rare photos of the Seals’ uniforms before they took on the more familiar leaping Seal design. Part two of the profile can be accessed here.
“The Helmet Line Bio” – Nov. 7, 1967 – download here
The 1967-68 Seals were not exactly known for their offensive prowess, and there really weren’t many highlights for the team that season. As the Seals hit the skids in mid-October, one unexpected trio started lighting it up: the Helmet Line. What was the Helmet Line, you ask? This combination got its name due to the fact two of its members, Charlie Burns and rookie Mike Laughton both wore helmets. The line’s third member, George Swarbrick, skated around sans headgear. This short blurb from the Oakland Tribune presents the three members of the line.
“Seals Lose Again; Face Leafs” – Nov. 8, 1967 – download here
This second article comes the day after the Helmet Line was presented to Bay Area fans. While the Helmet Line was enjoying their short-lived success, the Seals still couldn’t build upon their momentum.
“Kurtenbach — winner by KO” – Oct. 24, 1969 – download here
Subscriber, and Bert Marshall fan, Warren Shapiro, asked for an article about the former Seals defenseman. This may not technically be an article, but it’s still a short, funny story about Marshall’s attempt to subdue legendary bruiser, and former Seals great, Orland Kurtenbach.
“Seals’ Fred Glover – a Stranger in Town” (by Joe Sargis) – March 10, 1969 – download here
The San Mateo Times did a feature on the Seals’ Fred Glover near the end of the 1968-69 season, which would become the Seals’ most successful. Glover rode that success all the way to the league’s Coach-of-the-Year title. Unfortunately for the Seals, and unfortunately for Glover, times would never be so good again, but one brief moment, all was well in Oakland.
“The Night the Oakland Seals Got Their Championship… sort of (by Jim Rodrigues) – download here
I wish I could remember where I found this great article, but I just don’t. If anyone knows where it comes from, or when it was written, please let me know so I can add that info to the site. This is a fun article describing the game of cat-and-mouse played by NHL tough guys Carol Vadnais and Keith Magnuson back when both were patrolling the blue line for their respective teams. For once, the Seals came out on top over perennial powerhouse, the Chicago Black Hawks.
“COF: I know nothing about hockey” – July 7, 1970 – download here
This article from the Fremont Argus was written the day Finley completely changed the course of Seals history by unleashing not only the brand new “Golden Seals” moniker, but by also introducing the infamous Kelly green and California gold uniforms. On a side note, the cartoon Finley in the photo the real Finley is holding up is wearing white skates. Everyone should have seen them coming, but everyone was still surprised when a year and a half later, the Seals started wearing them in regular-season games.
“Finley Snips at Seals’ Red Ink” (by John Porter) – Oct. 2, 1970 – download here
This article from the Oakland Tribune details one of Charlie Finley’s most infamously over-optimistic marketing ploys: Barber Night. Ah, Barber Night… it was as simple as inviting the Bay Area’s hair and beard manipulators to the Coliseum for an evening of hockey and hobnobbing with the yet-to-be renamed California Golden Seals. That would come about two weeks later. In fact, it would be exactly two weeks later…
“Detroit Giggles at Seal Uniforms” (by John Porter) – Oct. 11, 1970 – download here
Oh, this was a strange period for our Bay Area heroes. Charlie Finley had bought the club over the summer, and he changed the Seals’ uniforms to Kelly green and gold, just like he had done to baseball’s Oakland A’s. The Seals still carried the “Oakland” moniker at this point, and for the next game as well, they would remain the Oakland Seals, but sometime between games two and three, old Charlie decided to change his team’s name to the “Golden” Seals. That’s right, he changed the team’s name TWO GAMES INTO THE SEASON! The Seals responded by going another seven games without a win, and they endured all sorts of ridicule along the way.
“Finley Adds More Color” (by Steve Tadevich) – Oct. 16, 1970 – download here
…and that’s what this Fremont Argus article is about: the moment old Charlie announced to the world that the name Oakland Seals was just too plain for his liking. Please welcome your California Golden Seals. The new home uniforms, brightly coloured in California gold, and the visitors uniforms, mostly Kelly green, would become two of the images most associated with the Finley era of Seals history. The white skates were still seen as a bit of a wild idea, so Charlie settled on green and gold skates for the 1970-71 season, because that decision made just so much more sense. I think…
“When Garry Met Charlie” (by Steve Currier) – download here
This is the first article I ever wrote for the Society for International Hockey Research, back in 2011. It details the Seals’ 1971-72 season, which proved to be a turning point in the franchise’s history. The team showed real promise for the first time in years, and the future seemed bright, but dark clouds loomed over the horizon, and when the storm eventually hit, the Seals were absolutely destroyed.
“Goalie Frustrates B’s” (by Frank Barrett, Jr.) – Oct. 29, 1971 – download here
A great article from the Lowell Sun (p. 21) describes the game in which Gilles Meloche shut out the mighty Boston Bruins in his first game with California.
“Seals Face Vancouver” (by John Porter) – January 14, 1972 – download here
Don’t let the innocuous title fool you. The Seals did a hell of a lot more than just face Vancouver the night of January 14, 1972. They also faced the crippling nightmare of having fans call them sissies, a tag no hockey player wants to be labelled with. Hockey has always been known as a tough, sometimes vicious sport, but on this night, the Seals looked anything but, unless you considered figure skaters mean. I suppose Tonya Harding was pretty mean, but this was some twenty years before she had people club her competition in the knee, but I digress. Yes, this cool January evening at the Oakland Coliseum was the moment Charlie Finley finally got his wish to see his California Golden Seals as he originally envisioned them: snazzy new team name, bright yellow and green uniforms, and lovely white skates. Surprisingly, the Seals came out 5-3 winners on this night to remain comfortably in third place in the West Division. You can find out more about the said skates right here in the Hockey Hall of Shame.
“California Golden Seals Blow 5-Goal Lead, 8-6” (by David Dietz) – Feb. 24, 1972 – download here
The title pretty much sums up what this article is all about. This first half of this game was one of the Seals’ all-time best, while the second half ranks up there with their all-time worst. The Seals had just traded Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue to Boston for Reggie Leach, Rick Smith, and Bobby Stewart. It was a good trade for the Seals, and things worked out well for Vadnais in Boston, as he would end up winning his first and only Stanley Cup a few months later. The trade participants had barely got their bearings when they took to the Coliseum ice for their first game against their former teams, and the result of this game foreshadowed exactly where both teams were heading.
“Hodge Sets Fast Pace” (by Frank Barrett Jr.) – Dec. 11, 1972 – download here
While Ken Hodge had himself a big night in Beantown, scoring three goals, the Seals’ Marsh Johnston also scored a hat-trick, the only one of his career, in California’s 8-4 loss. This article was published in the Lowell Sun (Massachusetts).
“Charlie O’s Angry Blast” (by John Porter) – Jan. 4, 1973 – download here
The 1972-73 season was hardly a banner year for the Seals. The team’s nucleus had bolted to the World Hockey Association, general manager Garry Young was fired for signing Dick Redmond to a contract that was worth way more than Charlie Finley was willing to pay, and the team had but six wins at the end of the calendar year. Fred Glover blasted his team a day earlier because several players were late for practice, and Finley was also in a bitter mood. Who would have thought the Seals (particularly Pete Laframboise) would dominate their opponents that night, the Vancouver Canucks, like they had never done before. This article by John Porter appeared in the Oakland Tribune (p. E 23-5) the day after the Seals 11-3 win.
“Rx For the Lowly California Seals” – Dec. 24, 1973 – download here
This Santa Rosa Democrat article is for all you Gilles Meloche fans. Meloche talks about the hand injury he suffered during the 1973-74 season, and how optimistic he was about the Seals’ chances of making the playoffs due to a cushy second-half schedule. Indeed, 1974 started well enough for the Seals with wins over Los Angeles and St. Louis in the first four games of the new year, but then the wheels fell off the track, and the Seals went on a 12-game winless streak, and they won just four of their last 38 games.
“Glover Fumes Over 7-0 Rout” (by John Porter) – download here
In my opinion, this Oakland Tribune article perfectly sums up the entire gamut of harmful acts any sane coach could have wanted to do to himself during the Seals’ dismal ’72-’73 season: suicide, alcoholism, making huge dents in walls; this article’s got it all!
“Hull Says Hat Trick a Cinch vs. Seals” – Jan. 7, 1974 – download here
Reggie Leach had a great night versus Chicago, scoring three goals, but he was upstaged by Dennis Hull who also scored three goals out the Black Hawks’ nine that night. This article from the Hayward California Daily Review details one of the lowest points in the history of the Seals franchise, just weeks before Charlie Finley decided to mercifully bail out.
“Seals Upset Montreal” – March 3, 1974 – download here
This short article from late in the 1973-74 season details the most glorious moment of the Charlie Finley era; a road win versus Montreal! Any win against the vaunted Canadiens was a reason for the Seals to celebrate, but this win was particularly sweet as it ended California’s months-long road losing streak, and it was Marshall Johnston’s first win as coach. To commemorate the win, the players bought Marsh a plaque which has remained close to his heart ever since.
“I’m Krazy George” (by Hank Masler) – October 1974 – download here
This last article from the October 1974 issue of Goal is a two-page profile of legendary Seals cheerleader Krazy George Henderson. This guy was (and is) truly one-of-a-kind, running up and down the aisles of the Oakland Coliseum, banging his drum, and yelling “Hey Turkey!” to opposing players. More than a few players wanted nothing more than to squeeze their hands around George’s neck, but that kind of threat never stopped him from doing his job: rousing the small Coliseum crowds into a frenzy. He was so good at his job that when the Seals folded, he found cheer-leading work with several other sports teams such as the NHL Colorado Rockies and baseball’s Oakland A’s, where he claims to have invented The Wave.
“Gilbertson… California’s Favorite” (by Hank Masler) – October 1974 – download here
From the October 1974 issue of Goal, here is a profile of former Seal Stan Gilbertson. Apparently he wasn’t California’s favorite for long as he was traded within weeks of this article’s publication.
“Patrick Makes His Point” (by Hank Masler) – October 1974 – download here
Hall of Famer Craig Patrick is featured in this Goal article, also published a few weeks before he and Gilbertson were dealt to St. Louis for Dave Gardner and Butch Williams.
“The View From Here” (by Regina M. Skinner) – October 1974 – download here
Completing the hat-trick of articles from my issue of Goal is this interesting piece from Regina M. Skinner. In it, she writes about the changes that took place between the Seals’ worst-ever season (1973-74), and what seemed to be a brand new era of Bay Area hockey where enthusiasm and hope reigned.
“Flyers Back in Form – Brawl With Seals” (by Gary Mueller) – November 16, 1974 – download here
I found this great article from the Sporting News on HockeyFights.com a few years ago. Someone had posted it in the discussion group for the infamous Mike Christie penalty box pummeling from October 25, 1974. Undoubtedly one of the lowest moments in Seals franchise history, which is saying a lot, even the Flyers’ nefarious Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was turned off by the entire incident. A lot of people don’t realize that Mike Christie holds the Seals/Barons franchise record for plus/minus (+18) in one season, even though the team gave up 52 more goals than they scored. On a team that, historically, had so few “plus” players, you could count them on one hand, +18 on the 1976-77 Barons was like +180 on the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.
“Improving Seals Should Stay Put” – February 2, 1975 – download here
This is not really an article, but more of a “Letters to the editor” section. In it, readers of the Hayward Daily Review were asked, “How would you feel if the California Seals moved out of the Bay Area?” I like this piece very much because you really get a feel for what it was like to be a Seals fan back in the day. There is a lot of hope and optimism for the future dished out with a large side order of anger and frustration, with just a hint of snarkiness (WordPress tells me that ain’t a word, so DIBS! – patent pending). When I wrote my book on the Seals, I wanted to be different from other sports histories in that I wanted the fans’ point of view to be a prominent part, so it is these types of personal anecdotes and opinions that I valued most during the research process.
“Washington streak ends as Seals capitulate, 5-3” (by Joe DeLoach) – March 29, 1975 – download here
The Hayward Daily Review‘s Joe DeLoach captures one of the most infamous moments in Seals history, as the 6-64-5 Capitals, who had lost all 37 of their previous road games that season, marched into Oakland and robbed the Seals of what would have been their 20th win of the season. Legend has it that the Caps all autographed a garbage in their dressing room after the game, and then proceeded to parade it around the ice. The next year, when they visited Oakland again, the garbage can was still there with all of their names inscribed on it.
“The Wrecking Crew” (by Steve Currier) – November 24, 2016 – download here
The combination of Dave Hrechkosy, Butch Williams, and Ron Huston will never be considered one of the greatest lines of the 1970s, the trio left a lasting on Seals fans who thought the team was finally turning a corner, and putting the Charlie Finley years behind it.
“Seals Host Canucks Friday” – Apr. 1, 1976 – download here
This article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat has almost nothing to do with the Seals versus Vancouver, but a lot to do with the fact the 1975-76 Seals were breaking team records left right and center. Unfortunately, as we all know, within a matter of weeks, the Seals would be no more.
“Seals’ Maruk Polishes Off Kings” (by Jeff Chapman) – Apr. 5, 1976 – download here
April 4, 1976 was both a sad and joyous time to be a Seals fan. On one hand, the team finished off the 1975-76 season with a big win over their rivals from Los Angeles, and Dennis Maruk reached the 30-goal plateau, signalling the Seals’ future was going to be bright. Throughout April and May, fans were enthused, and at the Booster Club barbecue that year, there were more fans on hand than ever before. On the other hand, this was also the last game the Seals would ever play. This article comes from the April 5 Fremont Argus.
“The Seals Expire” (by John Porter) – July 15, 1976 – download here
This is the Oakland Tribune (p. F37-8) article that announced the death of the California Golden Seals.
“Big league hockey here as Barons tie in opener” (by Jerry Rombach) – Oct. 7, 1976 – download here
Here is a little something for fans of the Cleveland Barons era of the Seals’ franchise history… opening night in Cleveland. Only 8,899 fans showed up to watch the Barons tie the Kings 2-2 that October night, which would definitely prove to be a sign of problems soon to arise. Interesting side note: the Stanley Cup made an appearance at the game’s opening ceremonies, and that fleeting moment would be the closest any member of the Seals or Barons would ever come to touching it.
“Barons’ beards counter hockey’s ‘clean cut’ image” (by Jerry Rombach) – Mar. 10, 1977 – download here
The 1976-77 season was one of the most trying in the history of the Seals/Barons. The club barely survived a huge financial crisis in January and February, players and management were not getting along, and by March 1977, the Barons were well out of a playoff spot for the umpteenth time in a row (actually, the seventh time). This fun article from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram talks about a short-lived fad on the Barons: growing beards.
“Barons Suffer 11-1 Humiliation” – Dec. 12, 1977 – download here
This article from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram is all about the infamous game in which Philadelphia’s Tom Bladon turned into a Bobby Orr for a night and blitzed the Cleveland Barons for 8 points, a record for defensemen which still stands. Needless to say, comments from members of the Barons were few and far between.
“Barons Deny Move to Texas” – May 10, 1978 – download here
At the conclusion of the Barons’ last NHL season, there were rumours the team was heading to Houston in what was supposed to be a merger between the NHL and World Hockey Association. Of course, that merger did not happen until a year later, but the Barons themselves did merge with another team, the Minnesota North Stars. This short article detailing the possibility of seeing the Houston Aeros and Cleveland Barons merge comes from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.
“Struggle Ends, Barons, Stars Merge” (from Winnipeg Free Press) – June 15, 1978 – download here
You can read how it all ended right here: the famous “merger” that occurred between Cleveland and Minnesota in June, 1978. Needless to say, this was one unusual proposal, but in 1978, the NHL was not exactly on firm financial footing, and, like any season-ending episode of Game of Thrones, some familiar faces weren’t going to survive. Both Cleveland and Minnesota had struggled at the gate for years, but with Minnesota’s richer hockey history and past attendance success, it was only logical the Barons would get the axe. For some players, like Al MacAdam, Gilles Meloche, Dennis Maruk, and Greg Smith, the Barons’ merger with Minnesota would turn their fortunes around significantly. For others such as Dave Gardner, Bob Stewart, Len Frig, and Rick Hampton, it would signal the beginning of the end of their NHL careers.
“Interview with Former NHL Goalie Gary Simmons” (by Lyle Richardson) – Feb. 2-4, 2007 – download here
Fox Sports blogger Lyle Richardson conducted a fantastic, funny, and insightful interview with Seals legend Gary Simmons that all fans of his will enjoy. The article is no longer online, but I had saved it on my computer several years ago, and I just copied it into Word and converted it into a .pdf file. I spoke to Gary as well a few years ago, and he’s a great story-teller who deserves to have a book written about him.
“Stats Not So Golden For Seals” (by Steve Currier) – download here
Even though the NHL has always done its best to keep an accurate statistical record of all its players, coaches, and teams, many discrepancies exist. In this article, I explain how many Seals statistics have been incorrectly published over the years.
“All-time Best and Worst Trades” (by Steve Currier) – download here
Some deals seem too good to be true and later turn out to be death knells, while other smaller, simpler deals turn out to be jackpots. Here’s a list of the California Seals/Cleveland Barons’ five greatest steals at the trading table and the franchise’s five biggest busts.