Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seals/Barons All-Time Team

In the spirit of selecting the 40th anniversary squads for the Canucks, Sabres and Leafs I thought it would be fun to look at some of the lesser franchises of all-time, and the best teams they could put together over their histories. Let's have a gander at the all-time team for the long defunct California Golden Seals/ Cleveland Barons franchise.

Over eleven years of existence the team lost well over twice as many games as they won, and posted a winning percentage of only .349. Only twice did they have a season in which they had a better than .400 win Pct, topping out with 69 points in their second year of 1968/69.
This was their first of only two seasons qualifying for the playoffs and they actually went seven full games before losing to the lower-ranked Los Angeles Kings. Earl Ingarfield led the team with 10 points in the 7 games and actually finished second over the duration of the 1969 post-season in Points/Game. Ingarfield scored at a 1.43 Pts/GP clip, behind only Phil Esposito's 1.80.

What follows is the best we can do in assembling an all-time "all-star" team for this storied franchise.

Dennis Maruk 236-94-117-211
Ted Hampson 246-61-123-184
Walt McKechnie 250-62-109-171
Dave Gardner 289-67-99-166

Right Wing
Al MacAdam 320-88-129-217
Bill Hicke 262-79-101-180
Norm Ferguson 279-73-66-139
Bob Murdoch 206-59-72-131

Left Wing
Joey Johnston 288-84-101-185
Rick Hampton 285-56-96-152
Gary Jarrett 268-54-71-125
Gerry Pinder 74-23-31-54

Carol Vadnais 246-63-83-146
Mike Christie 225-10-65-75
Bob Stewart 414-19-80-99
Dick Redmond 109-15-52-67
Jim Neilson 213-9-61-70
Bert Marshall 313-8-60-68

Gilles Meloche 93-191-62, 3.77
Gary Smith 61-119-27, 3.33
Charlie Hodge 20-40-16, 3.09
Gary Simmons 27-48-12, 3.51

There is somewhat of a theme among the Seals/Barons alumni, many of them were not quite at their peak of production while skating in either Oakland or Cleveland. A great deal of ex-Seal/Barons went on to far bigger and better things after leaving the franchise.
The examples begin with all-time centre Dennis Maruk, who would explode for 60 goals and 136 points for Washington a few years after leaving the franchise. Walt McKechnie as well would blossom further, enjoying an 82 point season with the Wings in 75/76. Norm Ferguson and Gary Jarrett would each go on to have multiple 30 goal seasons, albeit in the WHA.

As good as Carol Vadnais was with the Seals he would truly fourish with Boston (who wouldn't in those days?) and tallied four straight 50 point seasons including 74 points for the 74/75 Bruins. Fellow defenseman Dick Redmond had some very nice years with Chicago and Boston after leaving the Seals. The franchise's top two goaltenders would each go on to have terrific seasons later in their careers.

Two players who don't make the all-time squad really display the post Seals/Barons blossoming factor. Charlie Simmer and Reggie Leach both went on to become all-stars and produce multiple 50 goal seasons each. Others like Ivan Boldirev, Ron Stackhouse and Dennis Hextall went on to have terrific post-Seals/Baron seasons. Paul Shmyr and Tom Webster are two that would star in the WHA. To me, it seems like an inordinate number of players to improve significantly after leaving one franchise.

Interestingly, over the course of the franchise's history only one man managed to play at least ten games while maintaining a +/- rating over zero. Defenseman Gerry Odrowski played 116 games, scoring 16 points and slightly impressively a +4 rating. He is the only player ever to achieve that. Also, Mike Christie in 1976/77 put together arguably one of the best ever Cleveland Baron seasons with 33 points on defense and a +18 rating. This on a team that went 25-42-13 and is 13 higher than any other single franchise season .

The Barons would merge with the equally awful Minnesota North Stars in 1978/79 and the two teams actually became one good team, reaching the Stanley Cup finals a mere three seasons later.

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