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The Seals - a brief history

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03-24-2013, 09:14 AM
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yave1964
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The Seals - a brief history

Nine seasons, two playoff appearances, knocked out in the first round both times. Worst trade in hockey history, (Acquired Ernie Hicke and a late first rounder for the first pick in the draft from the Canadiens, who selected Guy Lafluer). Charlie Finley and the ten pound white skates was possibly the most interesting thing ever about the organization. Either that or the team being purchased by a group that immediately filed bankruptcy and reneged on the deal. But I digress.

When the NHL decided to expand from six teams to twelve it was agreed that two teams needed to be in California, so along with the Kings in the city of Angels, the Seals came to be. The original plan was to build an arena in San Fransisco, with a short term stop in Oakland while the stadium was being built. The stadium turned into a pipe dream, and rather than go by the Oakland Seals they were known as the California seals as Oakland was considered too small to host an NHL team. Through the years they were known as the Oakland/California Seals/golden Seals, confusing fans. At one time it was in discussion to go with the name Bay Area Seals, or even Bay City Seals, all this without ever moving, So the Oakland/California/Bay City/Bay Area Seals/Golden Seals stumbled through nine uneventful years, never really establishing an identity.
Charlie Finley of the Oakland A's Baseball team was the most well known figure associated with this organization. The two things he was most well known for was his idea to have the players wear white skates, like his baseball players wore white shoes. Problem was, they got scuffed up in games and practice, so the paint was constantly being reapplied. The players complained that by seasons end the skates weighed an extra ten pounds or so from all the paint. The other thing he was known for was his cheapness, and when the WHA started in the first year the Seals lost close to half the team to desertion, right when they were finally playing decent and for them halfway exciting hockey, the team was gutted by the new league because of a miserly owner.
Finally, Finley got tired of hockey and/or they got tired of him, so he gave the team to the league when he couldnt find an owner. After two years, the league sold the team to Mel Swig who after trying to get a new arena in San Fransisco and failing moved the club to Cleveland.
The Seals were not without NHL caliber players, it just seemed that they caught them before they developed or after they were over the hill and had way to few in their prime. The all time record for the team was 182-401-115, and they did that without fanfare, attendance was a constant problem.
The all time leader in games played for the Seals was Bert Marshall, a stay at home defenseman who seems to lack personality. Kind of sums up the whole team, really. The all time leading scorer was Joey Johnston, who in four years scored a franchise best 84 goals and 185 points, an average of 21 goals and 46 points a year. Again, THAT is the all time leading scorer.

So now if you are not asleep or writhing in agony, here is the first team all star team of the Non San Fransisco Seals.....

LEFT WING JOEY JOHNSTON
Joey was a little guy, only 5 foot 9 but not afraid to scrap. Twice in his four years he broke 100 PIMs, he actually was not a horrible player, would have been a nice 2nd/3rd liner with the right team. Career fizzled shortly after leaving the bay.

CENTER TED HAMPSON
An original Seal, drafted from the Red wings in the expansion draft, Hampson holds the all time record for the Seals for points in a season with a very respectable 26-49-75 in 1968-69. One of the main players lost to the WHA when Finley decided not to pay a fair wage, Between the NHL and WHA Hampson played a very respectable 981 games scoring 556 points, playing a gentlemanly style of hockey.

RIGHT WING BILL HICKE
Bill had seen his better days by the time he landed on the west coast, having played a nice role with the late fifties early sixties Canadiens, before drifting through three lackluster seasons with the Rangers. An original Seal, bill proved he could still light the lamp with 79 goals over four seasons, before moving on to the Penguins where he finished his nhl career.

DEFENSE CAROL VADNAIS
this guy could play. Really. Originally a Canadien, he was drafted by the Seals and was explosive on the point for four years before moving on to reall hockey clubs in Boston and New York. He peaked at 24 goals in 69-70 along with 212 penalty minutes. All four seasons with the Seals he scored double digit goals and had to wonder what the hell he was doing there surrounded by these guys. Played 1087 games with 169 goals and 1813 penalty minutes, a solid player.

DEFENSE BERT MARSHALL
Played six seasons with the Seals, the all time record. A stay at home d-man who went on to play for the Islanders in their development stage, Played 868 career games with only 17 goals,

GOALE GILLES MELOCHE
The main man in net for five seasons, had 58 wins with the seals to go along with his 140 losses. To be fair he came along right when the whole team deserted him for WHA riches, and they finished last every year. He played forever, moving to Cleveland then when they collpased to the land of lakes, before moving to Pittsburgh where he played three seasons, finally retiring in 1988.

HONORABLE MENTION

GARY SMITH
The primary goalie for the first four seasons, had a record with the seals of 61-119-27. Like Meloche he played forever, someone always needed a goalie and he was a likeable sort, so much so that when he went 0-10-1 with the Indianapolis Racers in 1978-79 he still managed to find an nhl home for the following season.

REGGIE LEACH, **** REDMOND, DENNIS MARUK, CHARLIE HODGE, PAUL SHMYR WAYNE MERRICK
All had solid NHL careers, either before or after their time in Oakland and were known more for their time in other organizations.

Hope this helps someone with insomnia or who needed a good chuckle.

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03-24-2013, 09:24 AM
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I lived and breathed Seals hockey as a kid growing up 3,000 miles away in Long Island. Too much for me to say or write on the subject so just refer to any of my posts over the years for my anecdotes on the Seals.

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03-24-2013, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
I lived and breathed Seals hockey as a kid growing up 3,000 miles away in Long Island. Too much for me to say or write on the subject so just refer to any of my posts over the years for my anecdotes on the Seals.
I wrote these team bios for another forum during the lockout, I have stumbled in to this forum recently quite by accident, really enjoying it in here. Figured might as well move the bios here as well to see what folks think. Liked your name, good to see their is still another fan of the gone but not forgotten teams!

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03-24-2013, 09:55 AM
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Nice job on the bios, I always have a soft spot for all the defunct teams.

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03-24-2013, 10:07 AM
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Great stuff! Love reading the old WHA stuff. Keep it coming.

Love the highlight on Carol Vadnais, he paired with Orr when he came to Boston. He was awesome, perfect compliment to Orr and big part of the Cup run in 1972.

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03-24-2013, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by yave1964 View Post
CENTER TED HAMPSON
An original Seal, drafted from the Red wings in the expansion draft,
Hampson was acquired by trade, not in the expansion draft.

Quote:
GARY SMITH
The primary goalie for the first four seasons,
Starter in the second, third and fourth seasons. In the Seals' first season Charlie Hodge was the go-to guy. Hodge was banished to the minors in the second season because new coach Fred Glover believed he was too small; Hodge stood about 5'6" and weighed 140-150 lbs. By contrast Gary Smith was a gargantuan 6'4", 200+ lbs.

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03-24-2013, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoser View Post
Hampson was acquired by trade, not in the expansion draft.



Starter in the second, third and fourth seasons. In the Seals' first season Charlie Hodge was the go-to guy. Hodge was banished to the minors in the second season because new coach Fred Glover believed he was too small; Hodge stood about 5'6" and weighed 140-150 lbs. By contrast Gary Smith was a gargantuan 6'4", 200+ lbs.
Correct. Hampson along with Bert Marshall were traded about halfway through the first season in California for the remains of Kent Douglas. Gosh, you guys are a tough crowd and don't miss much, lol.
Smith was a favorite of mine, the guy seemed to play forever, cup of coffee with the last great Leaf team, was with a Hawk team that made the finals, led the league in losses twice, led the league in goals against three times. Was a member of the 1979 Jets that won the final AVCO cup, I have his card from 1977 in a North Star uniform picking his nose. Cool player.
I didn't forget Hodge, he had the one year where he was a regular, before Smith took the job, based off of his stellar 2-13-4 record.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your input.

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03-24-2013, 03:09 PM
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Why no mention of Leonard Elroy Frig? My favourite all time Seal & Baron.

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03-24-2013, 03:55 PM
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Although he only played for the Seals for one year, Dennis Hextall, who was tough and steady.

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03-25-2013, 06:21 AM
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Why no mention of Leonard Elroy Frig? My favourite all time Seal & Baron.
We save that honor for you.

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03-25-2013, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
I lived and breathed Seals hockey as a kid growing up 3,000 miles away in Long Island. Too much for me to say or write on the subject so just refer to any of my posts over the years for my anecdotes on the Seals.
I hate to have to ask, because you've probably discussed it before and my spotty memory is betraying me, but I'm just curious: did you get to see the Seals in person? Ever get to see them out west?

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03-25-2013, 11:06 AM
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I hate to have to ask, because you've probably discussed it before and my spotty memory is betraying me, but I'm just curious: did you get to see the Seals in person? Ever get to see them out west?
Since I was 12 when I latched onto the Seals in 70-71, the only games I got to see was when they came to the Nassau Coliseum. If the team had stuck around, I'm sure I would have made a flight/pilgrimage out to Oakland when I was older to catch a home game.

I did get to listen to a lot of games on the radio though. I could get most of the east coast teams' radio stations and spent many a school night up past 1 a.m. huddled with a transistor radio next to my bed listening to games from Oakland. Boston, Pittsburgh, Philly, Washington, Atlanta(!) all came in clearly while Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo were sketchy, a lot of fading in and out because of competing stations on the bandwidth. I could get the Montreal station too but didn't understand French! Sometimes the Rangers would televise a game from Oakland and of course I saw them on their one NBC Game of the Week appearance against Chicago.

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03-25-2013, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
I did get to listen to a lot of games on the radio though. I could get most of the east coast teams' radio stations and spent many a school night up past 1 a.m. huddled with a transistor radio next to my bed listening to games from Oakland. Boston, Pittsburgh, Philly, Washington, Atlanta(!) all came in clearly while Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo were sketchy, a lot of fading in and out because of competing stations on the bandwidth. I could get the Montreal station too but didn't understand French!
The original Center Ice package

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03-25-2013, 12:01 PM
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The original Center Ice package
yepp... Peter Puck & the in-between feature called
Showdown. Sunday afternoon matinee's from MSG.

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03-25-2013, 12:23 PM
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I just found out there is a book about this organization. I will have to pick it up.

http://www.amazon.com/Shorthanded-Un.../dp/1425910289

Believe it or not, my dad was the equipment guy for that team. Kinda nice that he had a hand in keeping those weird uniforms looking so "good."

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03-25-2013, 12:31 PM
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Believe it or not, my dad was the equipment guy for that team. Kinda nice that he had a hand in keeping those weird uniforms looking so "good."
Interesting... and I guess he didnt have to soak his hands in a bowl of white vinegar for like 30 minutes a day in order to remove the black boot polish stains from his fingers huh?. White being so much easier to scrub off with steel wool & oxo pads.

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03-25-2013, 12:33 PM
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Next time I talk to him I'm going to ask him about that. The book claims he had to paint the skates gold but I don't know if that's true.

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03-25-2013, 12:59 PM
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Next time I talk to him I'm going to ask him about that. The book claims he had to paint the skates gold but I don't know if that's true.
Ya, they had white skates & then according to SealsFan & with pictures, gold & green. They later switched to a light blue coloured jersey, going back to traditional coloured skate boots direct from the factory. Back in the day, Equipment Managers were often the Trainers or Assistant Trainers, in Detroit for example Lefty Wilson, who was also a "spare goalie" for the Red Wings. Donned the pads for practices. Mustve' been interesting times for your Dad to be sure.

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03-25-2013, 04:20 PM
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Ya, they had white skates & then according to SealsFan & with pictures, gold & green. They later switched to a light blue coloured jersey, going back to traditional coloured skate boots direct from the factory. Back in the day, Equipment Managers were often the Trainers or Assistant Trainers, in Detroit for example Lefty Wilson, who was also a "spare goalie" for the Red Wings. Donned the pads for practices. Mustve' been interesting times for your Dad to be sure.
That was his first job, just 18 or 19 years old. Through the years his title shifted between Equipment Manager and Assistant Trainer. I remember lots of skate sharpening for than anything else.

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03-26-2013, 10:36 AM
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That was his first job, just 18 or 19 years old. Through the years his title shifted between Equipment Manager and Assistant Trainer. I remember lots of skate sharpening for than anything else.
The book on the Seals is pretty good and does mention having to paint the skates. Everyone mentions white skates but if you do a pictorial history by season you see that they first started out with green with gold trim, then gold with green trim in the same season. From there it went to to white with green trim, and finally all white with green boot laces. Actually "finally" would be the traditional black/brown boots which they did wear at the end of the 73/74 season when the team was sold back to the league, the only time they wore traditional skates while wearing the green/gold uniforms.

Testing my memory - your father is Barry Keast? (I used to read the Seals press guides cover to cover and knew the name of every non-player in the organization!)

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03-26-2013, 01:12 PM
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Testing my memory - your father is Barry Keast? (I used to read the Seals press guides cover to cover and knew the name of every non-player in the organization!)
Sealsfan,

You need to get a hobby, lol.

Hey can you tell me what the heck happened to Rick Hampton? Statisticly, as a kid in his early twenties running the point on a power play he looked like a future star, by 25 he was history. Checked everywhere I know of and cannot find anything to help me with this minor mystery.

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03-26-2013, 01:27 PM
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Sealsfan...you need to get a hobby, lol.
... leave him be. None of yer Elyse Luray & Collection Intervention required.... though she is kinda hot.

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03-26-2013, 01:40 PM
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One of the great things about pre-Internet fandom: with so much less info available 24/7, it was feasible to do things like memorize the media guide

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03-26-2013, 02:52 PM
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... leave him be. None of yer Elyse Luray & Collection Intervention required.... though she is kinda hot.
Hey, hey whoa. I have autographs from 32 of the 50 players who played for the Kansas city Scouts, Okay? My wife and family are talking about having an intervention.....

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03-26-2013, 03:37 PM
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Hey can you tell me what the heck happened to Rick Hampton? Statisticly, as a kid in his early twenties running the point on a power play he looked like a future star, by 25 he was history. Checked everywhere I know of and cannot find anything to help me with this minor mystery.
He blew out his knees in '79 and again shortly after he came back in 1980. With his skating abilities greatly diminished he was a shadow of what he was before. He was 23 years old when he played his last game in the NHL.

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