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YOU NEVER CAN TELL

Published on March 15th 2014

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The St. Louis Blues arrived in the NHL in 1967 summer. The original six clubs (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York, Toronto) have raised the Cup since 1967 (that's kind of a lie, Toronto won in 1967 and haven't pissed a drop since) and the original six expansion clubs have won plenty of Stanley's too.

Philadelphia won twice (1974, 1975); Pittsburgh won three times (1991, 1992, 2009); Minnesota once as the Dallas Stars in 1999; Los Angeles finally won in 2012. Which leaves Oakland and St. Louis from the original 1967 expansion draft.

This is the year the Blues win it all. Their main competition? The Oakland Seals.

The San Jose Sharks have a fascinating history, one that dates back to the Oakland Seals. The Gund family had minority ownership (Mel Swig majority) at the time the club moved to Cleveland and became the Barons (this was mid-70s).

Swig sold his shares to the Gunds during that period, and then the problems with the Cleveland lease and Minnesota ownership were solved when John Ziegler merged the two teams in Minnesota with the Gund men taking ownership of the team (complicated).

By about 1991, the Gunds decided they would move the North Stars back to the Bay area, but Ziegler blocked it. He did agree to grant the Gunds an expansion franchise after they sold the North Stars.

That franchise became the San Jose Sharks.

I think St. Louis wins it. For me, the Ryan Miller acquisition (and Steve Ott) isn't the difference maker, but they have balance and are dynamite on defense. Add in coach Hitchcock and terrific depth (all the way down to the minor league level) and it's too much.

If the season ended today, the Blues would face Dallas and the California teams would begin beating the hell out of each other. A quick five game series early might be the key for the Blues, who should have added scoring as insurance against Chicago but did not.

I count the Stanley favorites as 1. St. Louis; 2. San Jose; 3. Chicago; 4. Los Angeles; 5. Boston; 6. Anaheim; 7. Pittsburgh

I think the 1967 expansion teams (St. Louis, San Jose) without a Stanley will be down to one by Canada Day. In the words of St. Louis native Chuck Berry, it goes to show you never can tell.

 

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