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Ice Hockey

Up to date as of February 02, 2010
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An Ice Hockey Wiki article.

Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies
Founded 1974
History Kansas City Scouts
1974 - 1976
Colorado Rockies
1976 - 1982
New Jersey Devils
1982 - present
Home Arena McNichols Sports Arena
City Denver, Colorado
Colors Blue, red, white and yellow

The Colorado Rockies was a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) that played in Denver, Colorado from 1976 to 1982. They were a continuation of the Kansas City Scouts, a 1974 expansion team. The franchise moved to East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1982 and was renamed the New Jersey Devils.

Contents

Franchise history

Denver and Seattle were to have been awarded franchises in an aborted 1976 NHL expansion. Denver was considered a good market for hockey, and the troubled California Golden Seals were reported on several occasions to be considering relocating there before moving to Cleveland as the Barons.

However, it was the financially troubled Kansas City Scouts that moved to Denver for the 1976-77 NHL season, changing their name to the Rockies. The Scouts sold only 2,000 season tickets for their second season, and was nearly $1 million in debt.

Unfortunately, the situation did not improve significantly. They made the playoffs only once, in the 1977-78 NHL season. Even then, they finished with the fourth-worst record in the league, 21 games under .500. They went down rather meekly in the playoffs, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in a two-game sweep.

One of the few bright spots in the franchise's history was during the 1979-80 NHL season when flamboyant Don Cherry served as head coach, a former Jack Adams Award winner who was recently been fired by the Boston Bruins. Under Cherry, the Rockies adopted the motto "Come to the fights and watch a Rockies game break out!" This could be seen on billboards all over Denver in the 1979-80 season; this immediately rejuvenated the ailing club and some suggested that Cherry would have enabled the team to stay. However, as he later admitted, his outspokenness and feuding with Rockies general manager Ray Miron did not endear Cherry to management. While Cherry did much to motivate the players, goaltending was still the team's weakness as Miron refused to replace Hardy Astrom, whom Cherry dubbed the "The Swedish Sieve". Cherry recalled one game where his players had got ten shots on goal without scoring, but Aston then conceded a goal from the opponent's first shot and so was yanked from net. The Rockies finished with 51-points but it was already apparent that management would scapegoat Cherry for not making the playoffs. As a silver lining, in their final game which was held at home, Cherry's team defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0. As it was already known that Cherry would not be back next season, he wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots for what would be his last NHL game coached and after the final buzzer sounded, his players formed two lines for him to walk between while he acknowledged the cheers of the crowd.

The Rockies did have some outstanding players for a short time. Barry Beck set a record in his rookie year for goals by a rookie defenseman, and Lanny McDonald was traded to the Rockies by Toronto. But the team always had a lack of depth and traded such quality for quantity.

Although attendance in Denver was not bad, the team's financial situation was very unstable. Ownership changed hands twice in four years. Finally, in 1982, New Jersey shipping tycoon John McMullen bought the team. He announced that he had "big plans" for the franchise--but they involved playing in the then-new Brendan Byrne Arena (now the Continental Airlines Arena, which is now known as the Izod Center) in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The Rockies had actually petitioned to move to New Jersey in 1978, but the NHL vetoed the move because the Byrne Arena was still under construction, and there was no suitable temporary facility in New Jersey at the time. The team was relocated for the 1982-83 NHL season and renamed the New Jersey Devils.

The last active NHL player who had played for the Rockies was Joe Cirella, who left the NHL in 1996, the year that the new NHL team in Colorado (the Colorado Avalanche) won their first Stanley Cup Championship, after playing 23 seasons as the Quebec Nordiques. Two other former Rockies, Paul Gagne and Rick Chernomaz, played until 1999 in the Swiss and German leagues, respectively.

In a twist of irony, the Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils met each other in the 2001 Stanley Cup finals, with the Avalanche winning the series and the championship in seven games; the deciding game was in Denver.

Perhaps the Rockies' most lasting contribution to the sports world is the use of Rock and Roll, Pt. 2 (AKA "the Hey Song") as a sports celebration. It was first played in a sport setting at Rockies games in the late 1970s,[1] and was later played in most North American sports venues to celebrate home team scores for the better part of 25 years.

The NHL Colorado Rockies should not be confused with the MLB team of the same name that began playing in the National League in 1993.

Season-by-season record

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

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1976-77 80 20 46 14 54 226 307 978 5th in Smythe Division Out of playoffs
1977-78 80 19 40 21 59 257 305 818 2nd in Smythe Division Lost in Preliminary Round (PHI)
1978-79 80 15 53 12 42 210 331 838 4th in Smythe Division Out of playoffs
1979-80 80 19 48 13 51 234 308 1020 6th in Smythe Division Out of playoffs
1980-81 80 22 45 13 57 258 344 1418 4th in Smythe Division Out of playoffs
1981-82 80 18 49 13 49 241 362 1138 5th in Smythe Division Out of playoffs

Team captains

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First round draft picks

Note: This list does not include selections as the Kansas City Scouts.

Colorado Rockies Individual Records

See also

Notes

  1. "Swimming Through History", Westword, 4 October 2001

External links

  • year-by-year on hockeydb.com
Relocated and defunct NHL teams
Relocated
(still active)
Atlanta Flames · Colorado Rockies · Hartford Whalers · Kansas City Scouts · Minnesota North Stars · Quebec Nordiques · Winnipeg Jets
Defunct California/Oakland (Golden) Seals · Cleveland Barons · Hamilton Tigers · Montreal Maroons · Montreal Wanderers · New York/Brooklyn Americans · Ottawa Senators (original) · Philadelphia Quakers · Pittsburgh Pirates · Quebec Bulldogs · St. Louis Eagles

This article uses material from the "Colorado Rockies" article on the Ice Hockey wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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