The Seattle Totems were a professional ice hockey franchise in Seattle, Washington. Under several names prior to 1958, the franchise was a member of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (renamed the Western Hockey League in 1952) between 1944 and 1974. In their last season of existence, the Totems played in the Central Hockey League in the 1974–75 season. They played their home games in the Civic Ice Arena and later at the Seattle Center Coliseum. The Totems won three WHL Lester Patrick Cup championships in 1959, 1967 and 1968.
|Home arena||Civic Ice Arena|
Seattle Center Coliseum
|Colors||1958–66: Blue, red and white.|
1966–75: kelly green and white.
|1944–52||Seattle Ironmen (PCHL)|
|1952–54||Seattle Bombers (WHL)|
|1955–58||Seattle Americans (WHL)|
|1958–74||Seattle Totems (WHL)|
|1974–75||Seattle Totems (CHL)|
|Playoff championships||3 (1959, 1967, 1968) |
The Totems were one of the few American-based professional clubs to play a touring Soviet team. On December 25, 1972 the Totems lost to the Soviets 9-4. A rematch between the two teams was held on January 4, 1974 where, led by Don Westbrooke's three goals, the Totems won 8-4.
Seattle Ironmen (1944–52)Edit
After World War II, the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL), a major professional league on the West Coast in the teens and 1920s, was resurrected as a semi-professional loop. Seattle, as a strong hockey town and notable for being the first city outside of Canada to host a Stanley Cup champion (the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans), was granted a franchise, the Seattle Ironmen, which was founded as amateur team in 1943. The Ironmen had modest success, finishing in first place in the league in 1948, while the league itself became fully professional in 1949. Its most notable stars were Gordon Kerr, the team's leading scorer in those years with 235 points in 244 games, William Robinson, Eddie Dartnell and Joe Bell. Among other notables for the team were future NHL star goaltender Al Rollins and legendary Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero.
Seattle Bombers (1952–54)Edit
In 1952, the league changed its name to the Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Ironmen themselves changed their name to the Seattle Bombers the following season. The team continued to play poorly for two seasons, and the only bright spot was the debut for Seattle of the greatest minor league scorer of all time, Guyle Fielder. After two seasons of increasing travel costs—for which the Bombers received aid from the league—Seattle suspended operations for the 1955 season.
Seattle Americans (1955–58)Edit
The team rejoined the WHL as the Seattle Americans the following season, finishing in first place in 1957 led by a tremendous season by Fielder, who broke the professional single season scoring record with 122 points en route to Most Valuable Player honors and the first of four straight scoring championships for Seattle. Among other notables for the Americans were Val Fonteyne, notable as the least penalized player of all time, future Vezina winner Charlie Hodge, and future National Hockey League general managers Emile Francis and Keith Allen. The team's final season as the Americans, in 1958, saw the first time the franchise would win a playoff series.
Seattle Totems (1958–75)Edit
The Americans were renamed the Seattle Totems for the 1958–59 season, the name by which it would go for the rest of its existence. Fielder and Filion remained the team's great stars, but like many other WHL teams the Totems had very stable rosters, and players such as Marc Boileau, Gerry Leonard, Bill MacFarland, Jim Powers, Gordie Sinclair and future NHL coach and general manager Tom McVie spent many seasons each in Seattle colors. Allen was the team's coach its first seven seasons as the Totems, guiding the team to a first-place finish in 1959 and to the playoffs six out of the seven years of his tenure. The Totems played the 1974–75 season in the Central Hockey League after the WHL folded.
Terminated NHL franchiseEdit
On June 12, 1974, the NHL announced that a Seattle group headed by Vince Abbey had been awarded an expansion team to begin play in the 1976–77 season. A $180,000 deposit was due by the end of 1975 and the total franchise fee was $6 million. Additionally, Abbey had to repurchase the shares in the Totems held by the Vancouver Canucks, who were using the minor-league Totems as a farm club. The expansion announcement also included a franchise for Denver, and with the loss of two more of its major markets, the WHL announced on the same day that it was folding. The Totems joined the Central Hockey League for 1974–75.
After missing a number of deadlines while scrambling to secure financing, the NHL threatened to pull the franchise as there were a number of other suitors in the wings. Abbey allegedly passed on an opportunity to purchase a WHA team for $2 million during this period, and he missed an opportunity to acquire an existing franchise when the Pittsburgh Penguins were sold in a bankruptcy auction for $4.4 million in June 1975.
The Totems folded following the 1974–75 CHL season after acquiring $2 million in debt, leaving the city without hockey for the first time in two decades; the Seattle Breakers (later the Thunderbirds) would begin play in 1977 in the junior Western Canada Hockey League. After a failed attempt by Abbey to purchase the California Seals in June, the NHL pulled the expansion franchise from Seattle. Abbey filed suit against the NHL and the Canucks for anti-trust violations that he alleged prevented him from acquiring a team; it was finally settled in favor of the NHL in 1986. In 2018, the NHL again awarded Seattle a NHL team, planned to be the league's 32nd, to begin play in 2021.
Season-by-season results (1958–75)Edit
- Obermeyer, Jeff (2015). "Before the Totems". Seattle Totems. Arcadia Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 9781439652947.
- Parietti, Walt (June 12, 1974). "Seattle gets N.H.L. franchise". The Seattle Times. p. F1.
- Parietti, Walt (November 6, 1974). "Abbey will ask N.H.L. to speed up expansion". The Seattle Times. p. F1.
- Parietti, Walt (May 2, 1975). "Abbey's $6 million offer 'rejected'". The Seattle Times. p. B1.
- "W.H.L. ceases to exist". The Seattle Times. June 12, 1974. p. F1.
- Parietti, Walt (October 6, 1974). "Totem opener due Thursday". The Seattle Times. p. C8.
- "Seattle group bids today for Penguins". The Seattle Times. June 30, 1975. p. F1.
- Zimmerman, Hy (June 14, 1977). "New hockey team stirs old memories". The Seattle Times. p. D3.
- "Abbey says next step is lawsuit". The Seattle Times. June 25, 1975. p. C1.
- "Seattle and the NHL?". Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "NHL cools talk about expansion". The Seattle Times. November 11, 1986. p. E5.