The San Jose Sharks 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.
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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 with wholesale jerseys, 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.
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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 jerseys, 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.
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He also was a Norris Trophy finalist, finishing third in voting after scoring 27 goals and 75 points in 82 games. Burns is on a better offensive pace this season with 17 goals and 27 assists (44 points) through 42 games. That’s why a poll of 12 NHL.com writers has Burns as the favorite to win the Norris Trophy as the League’s top defenseman at midseason.
Burns, 31, has been so valuable to the Sharks that on Nov. 23 they signed him to an eight-year, $64 million contract which runs through the 2024-25 season.
“To see that size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and that skill set and that type of shot … there’s not many players like that who can create offense from the back end, [and] he also defends well,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said after the signing.
Burns leads defensemen in scoring and the NHL in shots on goal (166). He plays in all situations, is averaging almost 25 minutes of ice time per game, and is a big reason the Sharks are tied for first place for NHL jerseys from China in the Pacific Division.
“I honestly do feel he is just coming into his prime, and he puts those expectations on himself, but I think they are very realistic that he continues to grow as a player,” Wilson said.
Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning came in second among the panel of 12 voters and was the only player other than Burns to receive multiple first-place votes (seven, two). Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens edged Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators for third place. They, along with reigning Norris winner Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, each received one first-place vote.
“Watson is an extremely effective defenseman because he keeps the game so simple. He’s a defensive-minded defenseman that doesn’t provide a lot of offensive upside, but he is exceptional at winning pucks in the defensive zone and then making a strong first pass to help his team get the puck out of the zone while maintaining possession.” – Chris Dilks, SBNCollegeHockey.com
Currently on the year, Watson has 1 goal, 7 assists and a +8 rating in 24 games played for the Huskies. But what really stands out this season are his blocked shots. With 46 blocks, Watson finds himself in the top 10 in the NCAA in that category.
“He loves the tough stuff and excels at clearing the crease, even with bigger forwards in his midst.” – Hockey’s Future.
The Sharks drafted Watson in the 6th round (168th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. You’ll remember that as the draft where the Sharks also picked up Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Daniel O’Regan jersey and Joakim Ryan.
With his size, leadership skills, intelligence and toughness Watson checks off every box you look for in a defensive defenseman. And with the Sharks’ luck in that draft, maybe Watson will be making an impact in San Jose and discount sports jerseys in the near future.