Turnin' Back the NHL Clock: Cleveland Barons

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJune 23, 2008

The third defunct NHL franchise to be covered in this series is the Cleveland Barons. After nine seasons of listless hockey and no fan support, the California/Oakland Seals made the transition from the coast to the mid-west in search of a better fan base. However, in just three short seasons, they would find that their question would come up empty.

The first game in Cleveland was on October 6, 1976. The Barons had the luxury of playing in the Richfield Coliseum, an arena that held over 18,000 people. The only problem was, they would only pass the 10,000 mark in attendance seven times in the first forty-one home games.

The first season was a bit of a disaster as the team finished in last place with a record of 25-42-13. It turned out that this record would be the best they would ever finish in three seasons. The next two seasons went just as badly, both in performance and attendance. The records would be nearly identical as the inaugural season and interest would pick up for a bit as the Barons won three straight games, all against top contenders.

However, after a fifteen game winless streak that followed, the fan base dwindled down to almost nothing and much money was lost, forcing the team move year again, this time as part of a merge with the Minnesota North Stars franchise. The Barons would have only one coach in their miserable three-year run, Jack Evans.

The team would also have three captains, Jim Neilson, Bob Stewart, and Al MacAdam. Stay tuned for more of the series as it continues tomorrow with the Kansas City Scouts.