Saturday, May 19, 2012

'DID YOU KNOW' - Those Are Some Pretty Skates

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.....

'DID YOU KNOW' - The California Golden Seals wore white skates as part of their uniform colors.

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.

Yikes!  The word intimidating does not come to mind.

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.

Needless to say, the new look was not embraced by the players and were ridiculed for the display.

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.

Those would be a cool pair to have hanging in the den, but that's about it.

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.

Yup.........still ugly looking.  I can just hear Reggie Leach cringing in this shot. 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!


  1. I know this one!!! Guy Lafleur baby!!! And that's not all... when the Seals started to play well, and the L.A. Kings started to play poorly, Montreal was in danger of losing their pick. So they traded veteran defenceman Ralph Backstrom to the Kings to solidify the team. It worked. They went on a winning streak and the Seals finished last.

    But then again, looking back on it now, settling for Marcel Dionne would not have been a bad thing.

    1. I knew you would get that one. Thanks for the additional info too.

      It was a pretty wild trip researching this one. The Seals really were an interesting team. I was too young to remember them so seeing the old' YouTube footage really have me a good laugh.

      BTW.....did you manage to get the Cheevers? I found out that the Myre is a real sp auto.

  2. Yes, Harold Ballard obeyed the letter of the law when he had the Maple Leafs wearing blue player names on the back of their blue jerseys, which made them illegible from any kind of distance. I think they did that for one game, and the league told them to knock it off and do it right.

  3. Man, those Bruins fights are always fun to watch and, my god, O'Reilly is insane.

    I think the A's were also the first team in baseball to wear white cleats if I'm not mistaken. Finley was such an odd owner. Did you know that his A's team had a designated runner? He was a former sprinter who Finley signed to steal bases. Of course, stealing a base is an art form and just being to run fast is half the battle which resulted in a very poor percentage.

    Man, I love those white skates!

  4. Nice post! I do like a little white in my skates, but that is a bit much.

  5. Did you know ... they became the Cleveland Barons in 1976 and then 2 years later merged with the Minnesota North Stars.

    1. Indeed. Thanks for the mention though.

      Gilles Meloche wore my all-time favorite mask when he was with the Barons.

      Awesome stuff.