SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) have announced plans to celebrate, honor and recognize the 50th anniversary of the California Golden Seals and the National Hockey League coming to the Bay Area on Sat., Jan. 7 when the Sharks host the Detroit Red Wings.
Several prominent Seals alumni are slated to appear at the game to be recognized, including the Seals' all-time games-played leader Bert Marshall, leading goal scorer Dennis Maruk, and the all-time winningest goalie in franchise history, Gilles Meloche. Norm Ferguson, who played in 279 games with the Seals from 1968-72 and Ernie Hicke, a veteran of 146 games with the Seals from 1970-72, along with goaltender Gary "Cobra" Simmons (74 games) will also be in attendance. Furthermore, former Seals radio play-by-play announcers Tim Ryan and Joe Starkey, and long-time team public relations staffer Len Shapiro will also be on-hand.
All six Seals alumni will sign autographs for fans pre-game on SAP Center's North Concourse between 6-7 p.m. The North Concourse will also feature a "pop-up" museum of Seals memorabilia, photos and mementos. Additional recognition of the Seals history will take place pre-game and throughout the evening. All fans attending the game will receive a "throwback" Seals commemorative T-shirt.
As part of the NHL's first expansion, the league doubled in size for the 1967-68 season, expanding to 12 teams by adding the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and the California Seals. Previously, the NHL, since the 1942-43 season, had played as an "Original Six" league, with teams in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York and Toronto.
During their tenure in the Bay Area, the Seals played under a variety of monikers, including; the California Seals (1967-68), Oakland Seals (1968-70) and most prominently, the California Golden Seals (1970-1976). In addition, the team was referred to as the Bay Area Seals for a two-month period in the 1970-71 season but the NHL persuaded owner Charlie Finley to revert back to the Golden Seals.
In nine NHL seasons (1967-1976), the Seals posted a 182-401-115 record in 698 games, playing their home games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena.
While the Seals struggled on and off the ice to establish a foothold in the Bay Area, the heritage of that franchise eventually came full circle into what today is the San Jose Sharks, regarded as one of the most successful expansion franchises in NHL history.
In 1974, Finley sold the team to the NHL and the following year, the NHL transferred the franchise to a Bay Area-based ownership group, which included minority partners George and Gordon Gund. When the group could not successfully get a San Francisco-based arena approved, the team relocated to Ohio following the 1975-76 season as the Cleveland Barons. Two seasons later, the Barons relocated again, merging into the existing Minnesota North Stars club under the sole ownership of the Gunds.
The Gunds never hid their desire to return an NHL team to the Bay Area under the right circumstances and in 1990, they were granted the rights to an NHL expansion franchise, which would ultimately be placed in San Jose. Under the terms of the 1990 expansion agreement, the Sharks were allowed to participate in a dispersal draft, selecting players from the North Stars organization to comprise their expansion reserve list in San Jose, bringing the Seals genealogy back to the Bay Area.
Some of the most prominent players from the Sharks first few seasons were selected in that process, including; Arturs Irbe (183 games with San Jose), Rob Zettler (196), Tom Pederson (225 games), Neil Wilkinson (119), Rob Gaudreau (143), Doug Zmolek (152 games) and Brian Hayward (25 games).