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1968-69 Denver Spurs

Denver Spurs
Denver Spurs.png
City: Denver, Colorado
League: WHL 1968–74
CHL 1974–75
WHA 1975–76
Operated: 1968–76
Home Arena: McNichols Sports Arena
Franchise history
1968–76: Denver Spurs
1976: Ottawa Civics
Regular Season Titles: 1971–72

The Denver Spurs were a professional team based out of Denver, Colorado. The Spurs began play in the Western Hockey League in 1968, and played at the Denver Coliseum. The Spurs became the first professional sports team in Colorado to win a championship in 1971–72. After the WHL folded in 1974, the team transferred to the Central Hockey League for the 1974–75 season.

Spurs in the WHA

The WHA elected to expand to Denver for the 1975–76 season, following the National Hockey League's cancellation of a proposed 1976 expansion to Denver and Seattle. The move to the WHA also meant a move to the McNichols Sports Arena. The WHA Spurs are sometimes considered as a continuation of the Chicago Cougars, who had folded following the 1974-75 season, as most of the team's players were claimed from the Cougars in a dispersal draft, combined with some players from the CHL Spurs.

The Spurs entered the World Hockey Association for the 1975–76 season. A Sports Illustrated preview on the upcoming WHA season noted it was stalwart Gordie Howe's 29th year in major league hockey, and the Spurs' first. The magazine picked the expansion team to finish last in the WHA's Western Division and ominously predicted that Denver's time in the big leagues "may turn out to be 28 years less than Gordie's."

Veteran Ralph Backstrom was one of the Spurs' few experienced players, but at 38 his career was in decline, still, he wound up leading the team with 50 points in 41 games. The rest of the roster was filled with cast-offs and career minor-leaguers, such as Don Borgeson, who had played for the WHL Spurs from 1971-73; he finished second to Backstrom in points scored with 41.

Denver Spurs jersey

By December 30, they were in the Western Division cellar with a 13–20–1 mark, despite an overtime win over the Indianapolis Racers that night in Denver. It would turn out to be the last game the Spurs would play in Colorado.

Fans in the area had been banking on an NHL team, and did not consider the WHA to be a major league. As a result, the team drew poorly, with an average attendance of less than 3,000 per game in their 16,800-seat arena. Amid ongoing rumors that an NHL team (either the Kansas City Scouts or California Golden Seals) was planning to relocate to Denver, Spurs owner Ike Mullenix sold the team to a group of Canadian businessmen in the middle of the season. They quietly moved the team to Ottawa on January 2, 1976, where the team was renamed Ottawa Civics. The Civics themselves would only survive for another two weeks before the franchise folded for good.

The hastily arranged move is hockey legend, as the players, who were on the road reportedly only learned of the move to Ottawa when they stood on the ice for their next road game (in their Denver colors) and suddenly heard O Canada being played.

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

Denver Spurs.png
Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Standing Head coach
1968-69 74 23 44 7 53 254 308 683 6th, WHL Rudy Pilous
1969-70 72 24 37 11 59 250 316 736 6th, WHL Rudy Pilous / Bill Dineen
1970-71 72 25 31 16 66 242 253 804 4th, WHL Rudy Pilous / Bill Dineen
1971-72 72 44 20 8 96 293 209 993 1st, WHL Bill Dineen / Bill McCreary / Jean-Guy Talbot
1972-73 72 27 32 13 67 264 275 1022 4th, WHL Jean-Guy Talbot / Milan Marcetta / John Choyce
1973-74 78 28 50 0 56 249 335 ? 6th, WHL Vic Stasiuk
1974-75 78 36 29 13 85 285 263 1406 2nd, Northern Jean-Guy Talbot
1975–76 41 14 26 1 29 134 172 536 6th, Canadian Jean-Guy Talbot

External Links

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Denver Spurs. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).