Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena’ tag

1990-1997 Binghamton Rangers

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Don BiggsAmerican Hockey League (1990-1997)

Born: 1990 – Affiliation change from Binghamton Whalers
Moved: June 8, 1997 (Hartford Wolfpack)

Arena: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena

Team Colors:

Owners: Bob Carr, Jim McCoy and Tom Mitchell

Calder Cup Championships: None

 

The Binghamton Rangers were the top farm club of the New York Rangers for seven seasons during the 1990’s.

The 1992-93 Binghamton squad re-wrote the American Hockey League record books. Journeyman center Don Biggs (pictured top right) had the greatest offensive season in AHL history with 54 goals and 84 assists. His 138 point campaign still stands as the league record nearly a quarter century on. Despite his amazing scoring pace, Biggs never earned a call-up to New York. His NHL career was limited to 11 games with the Philadelpia Flyers during the 1989-90 season. Biggs’ greatest claim to fame was  to serve as Patrick Swayze’s skating double in the 1986 hockey flick Youngblood.

Led by Biggs, the 1992-93 Rangers posted the best regular season the AHL had ever seen with a 57-13-10 record. With 124 points, the Rangers finished a whopping 37 points ahead of the 2nd place Rochester Americans in the AHL’s Southern Division. But Rochester shocked Binghamton in the Calder Cup playoff quarterfinals, bouncing the B-Rangers in seven games. Binghamton’s regular season record held up for 17 years until the 2009-10 Hershey Bears eclipsed it with 60 regular season wins.

In 1997 the New York Rangers purchased the AHL franchise from local ownership and moved the club to Hartford, Connecticut. Binghamton hockey fans were saddled with a far inferior product for the next five winters as the B.C. Icemen of the lowel-level United Hockey League moved in to Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. But the AHL returned in 2002 with the formation of the Binghamton Senators. The B-Sens would finally win the city’s first Calder Cup championship in 2011.

 

Binghamton Rangers Memorabilia

 

Binghamton Rangers Video

January 4, 1996 international exhibition contest against Yaroslavl Torpedo of Russia at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

 

Links

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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1980-1990 Binghamton Whalers

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Binghamton WhalersAmerican Hockey League (1980-1990)

Born: May 1980 – Broome Dusters are re-branded as the Binghamton Whalers.
Affiliation Change: 1990 (Binghamton Rangers)

Arena: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (4,855)

Team Colors: Blue, Green & White

Owners:

Calder Cup Championships: None

 

The Binghamton Whalers were a long-running club in the minor league hockey hotbed of Binghamton, New York.  As of 2014, only seven cities in North America have hosted more American Hockey League games than Binghamton, according to local AHL beat writer Matt Weinstein.

Binghamton WhalersThe Baby Whalers came on the scene in 1980 when the NHL’s Hartford Whalers acquired Binghamton’s previous AHL club, the Broome Dusters, and re-branded the team.  (The Baby Whalers logo was a clever re-purposing of Hartford’s NHL logo, which formed a “B” when rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

Hartford owned and operated the Baby Whalers directly for the team’s first five seasons in the AHL.  This included the club’s finest campaign during the winter of 1981-82.  Under Head Coach Larry Kish, the Whalers won the AHL’s South Division with a 46-28-6 record.  They advanced all the way to the 1982 Calder Cup finals, where they lost to the league’s best team in the regular season, the New Brunswick Hawks, four games to one.

During the 1989-90 season, the Baby Whalers were historically awful.  Their 11-60-9 record offered the worst winning percentage in AHL history at the time.  Following that campaign, Binghamton’s long-time affiliation with the Hartford Whalers came to an end and the club became the top farm team for the New York Rangers.  The team was re-branded as the Binghamton Rangers for the 1990-91 AHL season.  The former Baby Whalers franchise later shifted to Hartford in 1997  – ironically to replace the departed Whalers of the NHL – and continues to play on today as the Hartford Wolf Pack.

 

Binghamton Whalers Memorabilia

 

Whalers Video

B-Whalers vs. Baltimore Skipjacks. 1984-85 season.

 

Links

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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1973-1980 Broome Dusters

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Broome DustersNorth American Hockey League (1973-1977)
American Hockey League (1977-1980)

Born: 1973 – NAHL founding franchise.
Re-Branded: May 1980 (Binghamton Whalers)

Arena: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (4,855)

Team Colors:

Owner: Jim Matthews

Lockhart Cup Championships (NAHL): None
Calder Cup Championships (AHL): 
None

 

The Broome Dusters, AKA the Binghamton Dusters, were a hugely popular minor league hockey team during the mid-1970’s in Broome County, New York.  Bobby Orr’s brother, Ron Orr, was the Dusters’ General Manager and Binghamton resident Johnny Hart, who penned the syndicated comic strips B.C. and The Wizard of Id, designed the Dusters’ logo of a caveman with a hockey stick.

The Dusters were founding members of the North American Hockey League in 1973.  The rough-and-tumble NAHL became the inspiration for the 1977 Paul Newman comedy Slap Shot and its member teams served as farm clubs to the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s rival to the National Hockey League.  The Dusters had affiliation deals with both the San Diego Mariners of the WHA and the Boston Bruins of the NHL.

The Dusters were the best gate attraction in the NAHL, regularly selling out the 4,900-seat Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.  Unfortunately, the rest of the NAHL wasn’t so strong and the circuit folded in September 1977, leaving the Dusters without a league to play in just weeks before their fifth season was due to begin.  At the time, the Dusters boasted more than 4,000 season ticket holders, accounting for more than 80% of the capacity of Binghamton’s small arena.

In late September 1977, Dusters owner Jim Matthews partnered with Andre Veilleux, former owner of the NAHL’s Beauce Jaros, to purchase the American Hockey League’s money-losing Providence Reds franchise and move it to Binghamton.  The 51-year old Reds franchise was the oldest continuously operating minor league hockey team in America in 1977, but had fallen on hard times during the mid-1970’s.  The sale was approved, the (new) Dusters were hurriedly admitted to the AHL just days before the 1977-78 season began, and hockey survived in Binghamton.  As part of the transaction, the Dusters became of farm team of the NHL’s doormat Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Dusters era came to an end in May 1980 when the Hartford Whalers of the NHL purchased the club and re-branded it as the Binghamton Whalers (1980-1990).

 

Broome Dusters Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Dusters owner Jim Matthews passed away on July 15, 2011 at age 77.

 

Links

North American Hockey League Media Guides

North American Hockey League Programs

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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