Old California playoff rivalry on ice; new one begins
It's been 40 years since West Coast hockey fans could drool over an all-California Stanley Cup playoff series. Of course, the trailblazers are not involved, much to the shin-grin of Kings' fans.
When the Ducks face San Jose in the first round this week, it will be the first time two California teams have played since the Kings faced the Oakland Seals in 1969.
The Oakland Seals you say?
Ah, the one franchise that could make the Kings look efficient.
Sure, the Kings had legendary tightwad Jack Kent Cooke as owner. The Seals, at one point, had tightwad and whimsical marketing ace Charles O. Finley, who made the team wear white skates on year. Of course, they couldn't find white skates, so Finley had them use white shoe polish.
The Kings helped underwrite some Montreal Canadiens' Stanley Cup titles by trading them a draft pick that they used to get Steve Shutt. But the Seals sent the Canadiens the picked used to take Guy LaFleur. (Trading away the future was just a Left Coast thing).
And yes, the Kings did have three general managers in their first decade, but the Seals fired their first general manager (Rudy Pilous) before they even played a game.
All in all, the Seals did something that has eluded Philip Anschutz -- they made the Kings look good. In fact, the Kings won that playoff series (no, Jim Fox did not play in it for he Kings) in seven games ... and were then swept by the St. Louis Blues.
The Kings, though, can still play the Seals' card, claiming that they have been to the playoffs just as many times during the past seven seasons. Of course, the Seals folded in 1978, after spending two seasons in Cleveland.
-- Chris Foster