So for all of the hemming and hawing that we’ve heard over the years the Seattle market let the NHL know that there is a strong desire for hockey in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle fans on March 1, both casual and die hard hit the 10,000 season ticket deposit goal in 12 minutes. Twelve MINUTES! by comparison it took the Vegas Golden Knights 48 hours to hit that mark. In fact the Seattle fans set 25,000 deposits in the first hour. NHL Seattle had to cap it at 33,000 deposits 2 days later.
If that ain’t an indicator of a hockey town, I don’t know what is.The question on the lips of many, is how did Seattle become a hockey town? How did a town with no NHL team for the better part of a century develop the culture that towns such as Vegas and Phoenix have missed out on. Is it transplants? That is but a small part of the of the hockey culture in this town. In a previous article I outlined some of what makes Seattle a hockey town and why it will be a good fit for this town and the NHL. Here I want to outline some of the Pacific Coast Hockey League/World Hockey League years, why there hasn’t been an NHL team sooner and some of the other intangibles that make this a great place to play, watch and support this greatest of games. By now most of you know that the Seattle Metropolitans were the first US team to win the Stanley Cup. That is a hallmark, but the tip of the iceberg. But, we’ll get to that in just a minute. There is so much more to this town and it’s hockey fandom.
Oh and our fans aren’t fair weather either.
The PCHL/WHL years
The PCHL for those that live east of the Mississippi was the left coast’s answer to the NHL before the 1967 expansion. The PCHL was a raucous and well supported association from 1958 – 1974. The league featured teams from BC, Alberta, the Pacific Coast and the Mountain states throughout it’s tenure. Seattle had a team in each of those incarnations and several predating that organization beginning in 1915 with the Metropolitans. In the 1940’s the Flyers legendary coach Fred Shero donned a Seattle Ironmen sweater as he geared up in the Mercer Arena. There were a number of folks that never made it to the NHL but went on to follow in Shero’s footsteps and coach. NHL coaches that spent time in Seattle playing for the Seattle Totems (1958-75) include Tom Mcvie, who also coached and GM’d the Jets and the Devils. NHL GM’s that spent time in the Seattle Americans (1955-58) organization include Emile Francis and Keith Allen.
There can be no more notable Seattle player than the great Guyle Fielder. He retired having scored 438 goals and 1491 assists for 1929 points. That makes him the fourth leading scorer in all of professional hockey history. Behind Gretzky, Jagr and Howe. A native of Idaho, he scored 100 or more points in the WHL, during the Original Six NHL era, during 4 season. His total of 122 in 1957 outstripping even Gordie Howe. It is a minor league hockey record that stands today. Some of his other acheivements include the following.
- Ed Bruchet Trophy (awarded to the MVP of the WCJHL) (1949–50)
- WHL Rookie Of The Year (1951–52)
- 9x WHL Leading Scorer: 1953-54, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67
- 6x George Leader Cup winner (awarded to the WHL MVP): 1956-57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1963–64, 1966–67
- AHL First All-Star Team (1953)
- WHL First All-Star Team (1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1967)
- WHL Second All-Star Team (1961, 1965, 1966, 1968)
Sadly he was only able to play in 15 games for the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks during that time. While is NHL career was short and unremarkable, he shined in the WHL and AHL.
Future Vezina trophy winner Charlie Hodge was also served as a goalie for the Seattle Americans before going on to the NHL to back up the greats Jaques Plante and Gump Worsley.
Every day of the week every rink in the area has multiple games being played at every level on any available ice. There is pick up hockey, Seattle Street Hockey, Puget Sound Inline Hockey, The Greater Seattle Hockey League, kids learn to play, adult learn to play, women’s hockey, girls hockey and a lot of backyard hockey going on. It might not be Toronto, but there is a lot of hockey being played at any given time in this town. Speaking of Women’s Hockey, Seattle’s University of Washington employed the first two female head coaches of a Division 1 hockey program in Cindy Dayley and Zoe Harris. The two coached the team and now have items in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The two later went on to found and continue to work for the Western Washington Female Hockey Association. That organization is flourishing and has produced college players and is bringing 100+ new beginners through it’s programs every year.
The Seattle Junior Hockey Association, and Sno-King are training the next generation of boys. The two organizations have been steady with their numbers and bring non-hockey parents and relations into the NHL fold after following the youth organizations for years. Players of note that have come from nearby Everett are the Washington Capital’s TJ Oshie and the Boston Blades Lexi Bender.
Also our current mayor Jenny Durkan has already dropped the gloves with Vancouver stating that we don’t yet have a team, but that we have one more Stanley Cup than the Canucks have.
More to come soon.