Kansas City Scouts

The Kansas City Scouts were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1974 to 1976. In 1976, the franchise relocated to Denver, and became the Colorado Rockies. In 1982, the Rockies relocated to New Jersey where they have since been known as the New Jersey Devils.

Kansas City Scouts
Kansas City Scouts logo.svg
Founded1974
HistoryKansas City Scouts
19741976
Colorado Rockies
19761982
New Jersey Devils
1982–present
Home arenaKemper Arena
CityKansas City, Missouri
ColorsBlue, red, yellow, white
       
Stanley Cups0
Conference championships0
Division championships0

Franchise historyEdit

In 1974, the NHL ended its first significant expansion period, that had started in 1967, by adding teams in Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, D.C.[1][2] Kansas City Hockey Associates, led by managing general partner Edwin G. Thompson, originally consisted of 22 investors. It was awarded a franchise on June 8, 1972. Kansas City Hockey Associates was one of four groups that applied for the franchise. Missouri Lt. Governor William Morris (former owner of the Central Hockey League's Kansas City Blues), Stan Glazer and Arthur Rhoades headed up the other three potential ownership groups.

Kemper Arena was constructed to host the team's home games. Kansas City had been the home of several minor league ice hockey teams through the years.[2] The Scouts shared Kemper Arena with the Kansas City Kings basketball franchise from the National Basketball Association (they are now based in Sacramento, California). The arrival of the Scouts and Washington Capitals resulted in the NHL creating four divisions (and renaming the conferences, which each had two divisions), and the Scouts were placed in the Smythe Division of the Campbell Conference.[2]

 
The Kansas City Scout statue inspired the franchise's name
 
Kemper Arena served as the Scouts' home arena

The owners of the new Kansas City franchise [3] originally wanted to call their team the "Kansas City Mohawks", since the Kansas City metropolitan area includes portions of Missouri and Kansas.[2] The name would have combined Missouri's postal abbreviation (MO) and the Kansas nickname of "Jayhawkers". However, the Chicago Black Hawks objected because of the similarity of "Mohawks" to their own name.[2][4]

The team then held a contest for people to name the new team. The name "Scouts" was chosen, named after The Scout which is located in Penn Valley Park and overlooks downtown. The iconic statue was featured on the team's logo.[2][5] The hockey club's logo was designed by lettering artist Gary Sartain of Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards in 1973 on a free-lance basis. Sartain's daughter, Sheila Snyder, told author Troy Treasure in 2018 her mother indicated Sartain was paid $2,000.

On October 9, 1974, the Scouts took the ice for the first time, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, and lost 6–2 to the Maple Leafs. [2] Team captain Simon Nolet scored the first-ever goal in club history. To allow construction to be completed on Kemper Arena, the Scouts played their first eight games on the road, where they lost seven and tied one.

The Scouts made their home debut on November 2, losing to the Black Hawks 4–3.[2] Chicago's Ivan Boldirev scored the first NHL goal at Kemper Arena three minutes into the game. Rookie first-round draft selection Wilf Paiement scored the first Scouts goal.

The following day the team's first victory came against the Washington Capitals by a score of 5–4 at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.[2] Peter McDuffe was the winning goaltender for Kansas City.

Like many other expansion teams, the Scouts performed poorly garnering only 41 points with a record of 15–54–11 in their inaugural season,[2] though this would be the better result of their two-season history.[2][4]

The team's second season started out with some promise. Near the midway point of the season, the team was competing for a playoff spot, with a 3–1 win over the California Golden Seals on December 28 placing them just one point behind the St. Louis Blues and a playoff position in the weak Smythe Division.[2] However, the Scouts went into free fall for their remaining 44 games. After going winless from December 30 to February 4 (0–14–2), they finally won a game, against the Capitals on February 7, before going 0–21–6 for the rest of the season. The Scouts' second-half crash left them with a season result of 12–56–12 and 36 points, still the worst record in the Scouts/Rockies/Devils franchise's history.[2]

The last four games the Scouts ever played took place in Japan. Following the conclusion of the 1975–76 regular season, Kansas City and Washington participated in an exhibition series with the first two games played in Sapporo (site of the 1972 Winter Olympics), the third and fourth in Tokyo at Yoyogi National Gymnasium, site of the swimming and diving competition at the 1964 Summer Olympics. The Capitals won the first three contests. On April 18, 1976, the Scouts defeated Washington 4–2. Thus, Kansas City won its final game but it did not count in the NHL standings.

In their two seasons, the Scouts went through three coaches–Bep Guidolin, Sid Abel (three-game interim stint), and Eddie Bush.[4] Guidolin resigned during the 1975–76 season following a dispute with management over player personnel.

The team had two captains, Simon Nolet and Guy Charron. Steve Durbano led the league in penalty minutes during the 1975–76 season. The franchise failed to make the playoffs in either season in Kansas City and won only 27 of 160 games, including a 7–66–7 mark away from home.[2]

With the 1972 startup of the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) resulting in a combined 32 teams between the NHL and the WHA, the talent available to stock the new teams in Kansas City and Washington was stretched thin. In their first season, the Capitals set an NHL record for futility, losing 67 of 80 games, and winning only one on the road. The Scouts fared only marginally better (losing 56 games), and the 1974 NHL expansion was widely seen as having been a mistake.[4] Attendance tailed off so much that the NHLPA wondered if the Scouts would make payroll.[3]

Relocation to DenverEdit

The Scouts suffered from inflated player costs, undercapitalized ownership, an economic downturn in the Midwest, poor performances on the ice and weak attendance. The Scouts averaged just 8,218 per game during their two years in the 17,000-seat Kemper Arena (at a time when the league average was approximately 13,000). The team's group of 37 owners, buried in debt, mounted a season-ticket drive to raise more revenue. When only 2,000 more season tickets sold, they concluded that the Scouts were not a viable venture and opted to sell.[2] While the Capitals were far worse on the ice, their owner, Abe Pollin, had the financing and the patience to absorb the typical struggles of a 1970s expansion team.

The Scouts were put up for sale with a Denver-based group led by oilman Jack Vickers looking to buy the club. A local group, according to author Troy Treasure, led by Scouts' limited partners Gene Novorr and George Shore was also interested but when the NHL informed the Scouts' owners that they would be on the hook of over a million dollars in expansion and territorial fees (owed the St. Louis Blues) if they didn't sell to Vickers, they reluctantly did so on July 26, 1976. Three weeks later, the 1976 Republican National Convention was held at Kemper Arena.

After just two seasons in Kansas City, the club became the Colorado Rockies. They played six NHL seasons in Denver, then relocated to the East Coast and became the New Jersey Devils in the fall of 1982.

The last active Scouts player in the NHL was Wilf Paiement, who retired in 1988.

The Scouts and the California Golden Seals, who moved to become the Cleveland Barons the same year, were the first NHL teams to relocate since the 1934–35 season.

LegacyEdit

Following the departure of the Scouts, Kansas City became a minor league hockey town again, most notably with the Kansas City Blades operating from 1990–2001 in the International Hockey League.[2] Within a few years of the Blades' departure, plans started for what is now the T-Mobile Center in downtown Kansas City, which has led city officials to actively pursue a return to the NHL, speaking with the Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins about possible relocation.[2]

To this day, the Devils make almost no mention of their past as the Scouts or Rockies; the Devils' media guide and the history sections of the Devils' website do not acknowledge any captains, coaches or general managers prior to the move to New Jersey. However, inside of the Prudential Center, the Devils home rink, there is a mural on the second floor that shows the former arenas of the Rockies and Scouts, along with Devils' original (1982–2007) New Jersey home, the Brendan Byrne Arena.

Season-by-season recordEdit

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties minutes

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1974–75 80 15 54 11 41 184 328 744 5th, Smythe Did not qualify
1975–76 80 12 56 12 36 190 351 984 5th, Smythe Did not qualify
Relocated to Colorado
Total 160 27 110 23 77 374 679 1,728

Team captainsEdit

First round draft picksEdit

BroadcastersEdit

Dick Carlson[6][7] was the radio play-by-play announcer in 1974–75 on WDAF (AM) with simulcasts on KBMA-TV (now KSHB-TV) beginning in 1975–76. Following the Scouts departure, Carlson called Major League Baseball games for the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds. He died in 2004, age 60.

In 1974–75, Gene Osborn[8][9] was the sole television play-by-play announcer, also on KBMA, with analysis provided by Bill Grigsby. KBMA was an independent station distributed in the Midwest via cable television, including the cities of Des Moines, Iowa and Wichita, Kansas.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "National Hockey League (NHL) Expansion History". Rauzulu's Street. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "History of the Kansas City Scouts". Sports E-Cyclopedia. Tank Productions. Retrieved 2006-03-25.
  3. ^ a b Laroche, Stephen (2014). Changing the Game: A History of NHL Expansion. ECW Press. ISBN 9781770905788.
  4. ^ a b c d Caggiano, Greg (2008-06-25). "Turnin' Back the Clock: Kansas City Scouts". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  5. ^ Cole, Suzanne P "'The Scout': Still looking out for KC" The Kansas City (MO) Star, Saturday, December 25, 2010
  6. ^ Grigsby, Bill (2004). Grigs!: A Beauuutiful Life. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 120. ISBN 9781582617176.
  7. ^ Treasure, Troy (8 November 2018). Icing on the Plains: The Rough Ride of Kansas City's NHL Scouts. Balboa Press. ISBN 9781982214074.
  8. ^ Treasure, Troy (8 November 2018). Icing on the Plains: The Rough Ride of Kansas City's NHL Scouts. Balboa Press. ISBN 9781982214074.
  9. ^ "Kansas City Scouts 1974 12 22 NY Islanders Pages 1 - 50 ..." AnyFlip.com. January 27, 2019.