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1998-2006 Lowell Lock Monsters

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Lowell Lock MonstersAmerican Hockey League (1998-2006)

Born: 1998 – AHL expansion franchise
Re-Branded: 2006 (Lowell Devils)

Arena: Tsongas Arena (6,496)

NHL Affiliations:

  • 1998-2001: New York Islanders
  • 2000-2001: Los Angeles Kings
  • 2001-2006: Carolina Hurricanes

Team Colors:

Owners:

Calder Cup Championships: None

 

The Lowell Lock Monsters were a minor pro hockey franchise that joined the American Hockey League in 1998. The team played at the brand new $24 million Tsongas Arena that opened earlier that year on the campus of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. The arena project was part of the major downtown revitalization of the Northern Massachusetts textile city in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Unfortunately for the Lock Monsters, the opening of the $11 million LeLacheur Park minor league baseball stadium just six months after the hockey arena was also part of the renewal effort. With a population of just over 100,000 and a modest corporate base, Lowell was too small to support both a top-tier minor league hockey team and a Class A minor league baseball team. The Lock Monsters were never able to step out of the shadow of the wildly popular Lowell Spinners baseball team. The Spinners were a farm club for the beloved Boston Red Sox, a partnership that helped fuel a remarkable 11-year sellout streak from 1999 until 2010. The Lock Monsters, while playing just one level below the NHL, served a succession of bland far away parent clubs such as the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes.

The team was never especially great on the ice. The Lock Monsters won only one playoff series in eight seasons of play. Local hockey fans did get to enjoy some outstanding players, however. Future Hall-of-Famer Zdeno Chara skated 23 games for the Monsters during the inaugural season of 1998-99. Future NHL All-Star netminder and Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo showed up the following winter. The top player during Lowell’s era as a Carolina Hurricanes farm team was Eric Staal, who scored 77 points in 77 games in the winter of 2004-05. Staal went on to become a five-time All-Star in the NHL.

Long-time local owner Elkin McCallum finally threw in the towel in 2006 after eight seasons and millions of dollars in losses. The textile company owner sold the franchise to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. New Jersey re-branded the team as the Lowell Devils and kept the club at Tsongas Arena for another four seasons.

The team moved to Albany in 2010 and to Binghamton, New York in 2017.  The former Lock Monsters franchise is known today as the Binghamton Devils.

 

Lowell Lock Monsters Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Center Craig Charron (Lock Monsters ’98-’00, a Umass-Lowell alum, died of stomach cancer on October 19, 2010 at age 42. Lowell Sun obituary.

 

Links

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

February 6th, 2018 at 3:58 am

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