The Kansas City Scouts

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The Kansas City scouts were an ice hockey team that played in the NHL from 1974 to 1976. The scouts were predecessors to present day franchise New Jersey Devils. The team was based at the Kemper Arena.

How did the Kansas City Scouts start up?

In June 1972, the Kansas City was awarded an NHL expansion franchise alongside Washington DC. The Washington franchise would become the Washington Capitals. Initially, the Kansas City team was to be known as the Mohawks, a moniker coined from the state of Missouri’s abbreviation (MO) and the Kansas City’s nickname ‘Jayhawkers.’ However the name was rejected because it resembled the ‘Black Hawks’ too much. A fans contest was held and the name ‘Scouts’ won. The nickname referred to the famous statue called ‘The Scout’ which overlooks Kansas City.

The Kansas City Scouts in Competition

The Scouts were a miserable bunch on the ice during their two years in Kansas City. They played their first game on October 9, 1974, losing 6-2 away to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In an ominous sign of what was to come, the team failed to win even once in their first eight games. To their credit, all of which were road games because they had to wait till the construction of the Kemper Arena was complete. Seven of those were losses. They also lost their first home game on November 2, 1972 to the Black Hawks but then recorded their first victory against expansion partners Washington Capitals. They finished the1974/75 season in last place with a 15-54-11 record.

The Scouts went on a magic carpet ride during the first half of the 1975/76 season, to surprisingly find themselves just one point behind the Smythe Division leaders St. Louis Blues by December 28, 1975. However, they came back down to earth with thud as they failed to register a win in 16 straight games between then and February 4. They then went on another miserable run, winning just one game in their final 44 games to finish the season with a 12-56-12 record, again in last place. This remains the franchise’s worst record to date.

Kansas City Scouts most Notable Moments

Hockey brawls are part of the game as much as the play itself. For his diminutive stature, winger Wilf Paiement could certainly swing a hockey stick at brawl opponents with devastating effect. On October 25, 1978 during a game against the Detroit Red Wings, he got into a heated argument with Wings player Dennis Polonich. In a moment of temper Paiement raised his stick and hit Polonich across the face, resulting in severe injuries including a seriously broken nose. He was dismissed from the match and was retrospectively banned for 15 matches, then the second longest in NHL history. Polonich, who suffered with breathing problems the rest of his life, won a $850,000 lawsuit in 1982 for the damages.

Kansas City Scouts most Notable Players

Center Guy Charron had the best points return among Scouts’ ranks. He scored 113 points over the two seasons he played for the franchise. He was also the Scouts’ top assist maker with 73 over the two seasons.

Right winger Wilf Paiement was the Scouts’ top attacking talent, scoring a franchise topping 47 goals as well as 35 assists to take his total points to 82 over two seasons. He went on to have a stellar career with other teams and is one of the most notable names in hockey.

Other notable players include Gary Croteau, Randy Rota, Dennis Patterson and Dennis Herron.

What Happened to the Kansas City Scouts?

The Scouts’ inept performances on the ice denied them the chance to build up a loyal fan following. Tickets to Scouts games were hard to sell and this deeply frustrated the owners. During their two seasons in Kansas City, only an average of 8218 fans showed up at the Kemper Arena, way lower than the league average at 13,000. With the owners sinking into debt, they gave an ultimatum for the city to sell 8,000 season tickets or the franchise would be moved. Only 2000 season tickets were sold and the owners made good their threat to relocate the team. Following the 1915/76 season, the team was moved to Denver and renamed the Colorado Rockies.

Another move in 1982 took them to New Jersey and the franchise has been known as the Devils since then. The mediocre legacy of the Scouts virtually died when they left Kansas City and their two subsequent incarnations have made little mention of the team since. Since the move, Kansas City has not had another NHL franchise but various minor league team continue to give fans their dose of hockey action.