The Kansas City Scouts was a National Hockey League team based in Kansas City, Missouri. An expansion team in 1974, the team underperformed both on the ice and in the front office. The team relocated to Denver, Colorado in 1976, and would eventually become the present-day New Jersey Devils.
The National Hockey League awarded expansion franchises to Kansas City and Washington Capitals on June 8, 1972. Originally, the ownership group intended to call the franchise the Kansas City MO-Hawks, combining the postal code for Missouri, and the traditional Kansas nickname, Jayhawks. However, the Chicago Black Hawks franchise would not allow the nickname, due to the similarity to their own nickname. Instead, the nickname "Scouts" was chosen, to honor a statue that overlooked the city. The NHL reorganized the internal of the league with the arrival of the two new teams, creating four divisions. The Scouts were placed in the new Smythe Division.
Due to a rodeo taking place at the Kemper Area, the Scouts opened the 1974 season with nine consecutive away games. The Kansas City Scouts played their first game on October 9th, 1974 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, and lost 6-2. They would go winless on their opening road trip, losing seven games and tying two. Their home opener at Kemper Arena took place on November 2, 1974 against the Chicago Black Hawks, a game which also resulted in a loss. Losing became a strong trend for the Scouts in their opening season, at one point losing by 10-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The team finished with a record of 15-54-11, totaling only 41 points and putting them at the bottom of the Smythe Division, but performing slightly better than their sibling Washington Capitals. The underperformance of these teams, along with steep competition from the competing World Hockey Association made many in the NHL wonder if the expansion had been a mistake.
Another Fruitless Year
The Scouts performed better in beginning of their second season in the NHL, starting with a record of 11-12-4. It appeared that the team had a chance of making the playoffs, as the Smythe Division was weak compared to other divisions in the NHL. However, the Scouts returned to the form of their previous season, going winless for 16 games in a row between December 28th and February 7th. After winning one game against the Capitals, the winless streak continued through the end of the season. The Scouts once again finished at the bottom of the Smythe, with a record of 12-56-12, which was the fifth worst finish in NHL history.
Relocation to Denver
To add to the problems on the ice, fan attendance at games also drastically decreased, leaving the 37-member ownership group $900,000 in debt by the end of the year. In an attempt to keep the franchise in Kansas City, the ownership group held a season ticket drive, hoping to sell 8,000 tickets for the following year. Only 2,000 tickets were sold during the drive. In order to maintain their investment, the team relocated to Denver, Colorado and became the Colorado Rockies. Along with the movement of the California Seals to Cleveland that postseason, it was the first time since the 1934-35 NHL season that a team relocated to a new city.
NHL Return to Kansas City?
Following the departure of the Scouts, Kansas City once again became a minor league hockey town. The city became home to the IHL Kansas City Blades from 1990 through 2001, when the league and franchise both folded. The Kansas City Outlaws played in the UHL for the 2004-05 season, before the team ultimately folded.
The construction of the new Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City has revived notions that the city might once again host an NHL team. The arena, build by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, was designed with the hope of luring professional franchises to the city. The Pittsburgh Penguins were in talks with Kansas City officials about the possibility of relocating to the city, but the Penguins city of Pittsburgh reached an agreement on a new arena there, and talks of relocation were dropped. The Nashville Predators also expressed an interest in moving to Kansas City, but this franchise is now out of the running. A Kansas City based group of investors is now attempting to get an NHL expansion franchise.
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