In collecting, for whatever reason, I've always been fascinated by teams I never got to see play. It's because of this that I'm always looking for new footage of the WHA and why I've always had a bit of a "thing" for the Oakland Seals.
No matter what the sport, teams move all the time (well, not ALL the time, they usually go in clusters, sort of like we saw 12-13 years ago and what we're likely going to see in the next 3-5). Every case is individual, every case has its heroes and villains and you can always make the argument that "if only X had been done differently, it could have worked." Usually, if a league believes that the problem was with the team rather than the locale, you see another team back there eventually (see the San Jose Sharks, who are really the Seals in oh so many ways....).
The Seals were a special case in badness, though. Going into 1967-68, they were actually picked to finish second in their division. Didn't happen. They couldn't keep the puck out of their own net. This never really changed. Ex-Leaf Gary "Suitcase" Smith would lose an NHL-record 47 games in 1971, a record that still stands. The problem was never really the goalies (Smith wasn't bad, Gilles Meloche was quite good), it was who stood out there in front of them.
The Seals had their series of owners, their umpteen coaching changes, all the things you normally associate with bad teams. Their biggest problem, to me, was their inability to stick it out with their young players. Reggie Leach, Charlie Simmer and Dennis Maruk were all Seals. They all went on to success elsewhere. The worst of all was the case of Guy Lafleur, drafted with the Seals' pick in 1971. That pick had been dealt away for 20-goal scorer Ernie Hicke a year or so earlier. "Win now" usually turned into "lose now and forever." Every single time they looked like they might be turning the corner, they'd shoot themselves in the foot.
Here's a nice little history. I love the Cantina music. It fits:
Anyway, I started writing about this because I wanted to talk about what I think about what's going on in Phoenix. Instead, I'll just use it to post some pics of teams that have gone. Wish I had a scan of a Scout (Wilf Paiement was the best of them).
Looks like for the first time since 1991, I'll be buying baseball....