The Washington Capitals' first Stanley Cup victory in the team’s 44-year history dredged up a lot of frozen memories of Baltimore's 1960s hockey history. It brought home reminders of just how close Baltimore was to obtaining one of six expansion teams awarded by the National Hockey League in 1967. And it brought back into focus how Baltimore's inept decision-making in erecting an obsolete arena would forever doom our chances of being big-time players in the world of indoor sports.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gilles Boisvert
Based on the construction of the Baltimore Civic Center (now the Royal Farms Arena), which opened in the fall of 1962, Charm City had been awarded an American Hockey League franchise that June. At the time, the Civic Center was to be the largest arena in the AHL. In their inaugural season, the Baltimore Clippers played in the Eastern Division along with the Providence Reds, the Quebec Aces, the Hershey Bears and the Springfield Indians. The Western Division consisted of the Rochester Americans, the Cleveland Barons, the Pittsburgh Hornets and the Buffalo Bisons.
At that time, the NHL consisted of just the original six franchises -- the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. At roughly 16 players and two goalies per team, the entire league consisted of only 96 players and about 12 goaltenders.