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  1. #1
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    1991 NHL Dispersal & Expansion Drafts

    We're coming up on the 30th anniversary of the San Jose Sharks joining the NHL. For anyone not old enough to remember 1991 (or not old enough to have been paying close attention to how things worked) I wanted to share how truly bizarre the Expansion & Dispersal drafts were.

    I'm betting some people are already reading this and asking "what's a dispersal draft, and what does that have to do with the San Jose Sharks?"

    Let's bring it back to hockey cards for a second... everyone who collected cards back then probably remembers these beauties, of the origional San Jose Sharks:



    Several early season releases had these. The first few Sharks cards were poses, in their sweaters, not action shots. ProSet, OPC, UD Series 1, Stadium Club. Maybe another one?

    Did you ever notice that most of the players in these poses are ex-Minnesota North Stars?

    That's where some of the NHL's odd history comes in.....

    Back in 1967, when the NHL expanded from 6 to 12 teams, one of those clubs was the California Golden Seals, and they played in the Bay area (Oakland) They dropped the Golden at some point... and in 1976 they were relocated to Cleveland, and renamed the Barons.

    The Barons only lasted a couple of seasons. They were losing money. On paper they're the last NHL to fold, but on the books what actually happened is that in 1978, the owners George & Gordon Gund merged the Barons with another team struggling to make money: The Minnesota North Stars.

    Fast forward a decade, add in the hype around Gretzky in Los Angles, and the Gunds losing money in Minnesota - they were asking the league for permission to move the North Stars to San Jose.

    The NHL wouldn't let them do it, but eventually granted them an expansion franchise in San Jose, and Howard Baldwin bought their shares of the North Stars (Baldwin was the orgional owner of the Whalers, and also owned a large piece of the Penguins at one point).

    But the Gunds wanted to take their team with them. They thought they were building something good in Minnesota. What they ended up agreeing to was a dispersal draft.

    Minnesota got to protect 14 Skaters & 2 Goalies, and their 1990 draft picks were exempt. San Jose then selected 24 players from the North Stars organization (enough for a full roster!) . The results:

    Players off of the Minnesota North Stars roster:
    1. Shane Churla (RW)
    2. Brian Hayward (G)
    3. Neil Wilkinson (D)
    4. Rob Zettler (D)

    Players from the Kalamazoo Wings (IHL) roster:
    5. Ed Courtenay (RW)
    6. Kevin Evans (LW)
    7. Link Gaetz (D)
    8. Dan Keczmer (D)
    9. Dean Kolstad (D)
    10. Peter Lappin (RW)
    11. Pat MacLeod (D)
    12. Mike McHugh (LW)
    13. Jarmo Myllys (G)
    14. J. F. Quintin (LW)

    Prospects:
    15. Scott Cashman (G)
    16. Murray Garbutt (C)
    17. Rob Gaudreau (RW)
    18. Arturs Irbe (G)
    19. Shaun Kane (D)
    20. Larry Olimb (D)
    21. Tom Pederson (D)
    22. Bryan Schoen (G)
    23. John Weisbrod (C)
    24. Doug Zmolek (D)



    A few of those guys were noteworthy for a year or two because they were early San Jose sharks, but 23 of the 24 didn't really accomplish a lot in the NHL after that day. Arturs Irbe is one name that really jumps out.

    So, after San Jose was allowed to pick the scraps left to them by the North Stars, BOTH clubs participated in an expansion draft. San Jose picked 1st, and then they alternated picks until they selected 10 players each (one from each club).

    Those results:
    1. Jeff Hackett (G) New York Islanders San Jose Sharks
    2. Rob Ramage (D) Toronto Maple Leafs Minnesota North Stars
    3. Jayson More (D) Montreal Canadiens San Jose Sharks
    4. Dave Babych (D) Hartford Whalers Minnesota North Stars
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    5. Rick Lessard (D) Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks
    6. Allen Pedersen (D) Boston Bruins Minnesota North Stars
    7. Bob McGill (D) Chicago Blackhawks San Jose Sharks
    8. Charlie Huddy (D) Edmonton Oilers Minnesota North Stars
    9. Tim Kerr (F) Philadelphia Flyers San Jose Sharks
    10. Kelly Kisio (F) New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars
    11. Jeff Madill (RW) New Jersey Devils San Jose Sharks
    12. Randy Gilhen (C) Pittsburgh Penguins Minnesota North Stars
    13. David Bruce (LW) St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks
    14. Rob Murray (C) Washington Capitals Minnesota North Stars
    15. Greg Paslawski (RW) Buffalo Sabres San Jose Sharks
    16. Tyler Larter (F) Winnipeg Jets Minnesota North Stars
    17. Bengt-Ake Gustafsson (F) Detroit Red Wings San Jose Sharks
    18. Jim Thomson (RW) Los Angeles Kings Minnesota North Stars
    19. Craig Coxe (C) Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks
    20. Guy Lafleur (RW) Quebec Nordiques Minnesota North Stars


    When I first read about this draft (years ago) that 20th overall pick shocked me! Yeah, Lafleur was selected by Minnesota. They ended up trading him back to Quebec (for Alan Haworth) and he'd retire before the 91-92 season started anyway.



    So yeah, thought I'd share that one, for those of you that didn't know it. In 1991 the Minnesota North Stars, who'd been in the NHL since 1967, participated in an expansion draft.... after their owners did a dispersal draft to "unmerge" the Stars and the Seal/Barons franchises that were melded together in 1978.

    I find it a little ironic that the cost of getting a team in San Jose for the Gunds was to give up the organization they built in Minnesota, because the NHL did not want to loose a team in that market. New North Stars owner Howard Baldwin brought Norman Green into the fold pretty quickly. Green ended up with a controlling interest in the club, and moved them to Dallas after the 92-93 season.

    As for the Gunds in San Jose: They remained the majority owners until 2002, when they sold to the consortium that owns the club today. Glen held onto a minority share, until he died in 2013. Gordon sold his shares outright, but he does have a minority interest in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  2. #2




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    Good read. I've been picking up books about the old hockey teams and leagues which have a lot of interesting stories.

  3. #3
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    It's amazing to me how rough the NHL used to start their expansion teams. Also interesting how much effort they did to keep Minnesota only to let them move to Dallas a short time later.

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