Wood sticks, straight blades, tube skates, no helmets. Those pieces of equipment evoke an certain era in hockey. How many of you remember Cooperalls? Banana blades? These days it's visors and 'frying pan' trappers.
It's fun to look at some of the trends that were prevalent during a certain time period.....sometimes it makes me think about the incredible innovations that have been introduced to the sport, but other times it makes me shake my head and do a facepalm.
Case in point.....
You can thank the 70's for some pretty crazy trends, but this one might be one of the worst. And you can thank a guy named "Charlie O." for it.
Just a quick note.......I stumbled on a couple of 74/75 Loblaws stamps (shown above) and was immediately awestruck by the white skates. I wanted to see if I could find anything better though in terms of a card to illustrate my point. Not a single hockey card shows a player in white skates. I'd say 90% of them are posed shots in front of a blue wall.....and that means either a closeup or a 3/4 body shot.
Anyways, I pulled a couple pics off of a Google search to help out this post.
Back to "Charlie O."......better known as Charlie O. Finley. Before the 1970/71 season, Finley (who was the flamboyant owner of baseball's Oakland A's at the time) became the owner of the then Oakland Seals. Two games into the new season, he felt the need to change the team name to the California Golden Seals (he was all about the marketing and fan appeal).
Additionally, he changed the team colors to green and gold to match his Oakland A's look. Apparently those were popular colors back in the day.
But the kicker (literally) was the colored skates, which were actually green and gold to begin with before switching to the all-white look.
These days, they look like a very cool piece of hockey history. At the time, I can only imagine what it would be like to go out there looking like the ugly duckling of the lot.
Throughout the history of the Oakland/California Golden Seals, there were a number of moments that will forever cement this team as one of the most unique in hockey history.
The skates, the name change mid-season, but how about another little bonus tidbit.
BONUS 'DID YOU KNOW' - The Seals were the first team to re-introduce the trend of putting last names on the backs of players jerseys.
In 1926, the New York Americans experimented with putting last names on the backs of jerseys. It immediately got the thumbs down. In the mid-70's, the California Golden Seals decided to bring the look back. This time it was to stay. And by the 77/78 season, it was mandatory.
I remember hearing a story about how Toronto owner Harold Ballard would be resistant to putting the names on the backs. It meant more people would have to buy programs in order to figure out who was who.
Whether it was true or not I don't know. But when it came to Mr. Ballard, nothing would surprise me.
Alright.......one more slice of Seals info.
DOUBLE BONUS 'DID YOU KNOW' - The Seals (it is argued) were on the wrong side of one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history.
At the end of the 1970 season, the Seals (in their infinite wisdom) traded their 1st round pick in the '71 Draft to Montreal (along with Francois Lacombe) in return for Montreal's 1st round pick in the '70 Draft (selecting Chris Oddleifson), Ernie Hicke and some cash.
While the Seals continued to play horrible hockey, can you guess who Montreal selected with their newly acquired draft pick?
Like I said......the most one-sided trade in history.
And just to show off those white skates a little more (go to the 3:00 mark)
You welcome Casey!