After new arena plans in San Francisco were cancelled, the NHL dropped its objection to a relocation of the troubled California Golden Seals franchise from Oakland. Minority owner George Gund III persuaded majority owner Melvin Swig to move the team to his hometown of Cleveland for the 1976 – 1977 season. The team was named “Barons” after the successful team, in the American Hockey League (AHL), that played in the city from 1929 to 1973. The AHL Barons’ owner, Nick Mileti, moved that team to Florida in favor of his Cleveland Crusaders team in the brand new World Hockey Association (WHA).
Cleveland had been mentioned as a possible NHL city as early as the 1930s, when the then-struggling Montreal Canadiens considered moving there. It had also been turned down for an NHL expansion team on three previous occasions in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Barons played in the suburban Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio, an arena originally built for the WHA’s Crusaders (who left to become the Minnesota Fighting Saints for the 1976 – 1977 WHA season on the Barons’ arrival) and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The Richfield Coliseum had the then-largest seating capacity in the NHL, at 18,544.
By 1978 the North Stars had missed the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons. Attendance had tailed off so rapidly that the league feared that the franchise was on the verge of folding. At this point, Gordon and George Gund III, owners of the equally strapped Cleveland Barons, stepped in with an unprecedented solution—merging the North Stars with the Barons. While the North Stars were the surviving team, the Gunds became majority owners of the merged team, and the North Stars moved from the then-five team Smythe Division to assume the Barons’ place in the Adams Division (which would otherwise have been left with only three teams) for the 1978 – 1979 season. The recently retired Nanne was named general manager, and a number of the Barons players – notably goaltender Gilles Meloche and forwards Al MacAdam and Mike Fidler – bolstered the Minnesota lineup. Furthermore, Minnesota had drafted Bobby Smith, who would go on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie that year, and Steve Payne, who himself would go on to record 42 goals in his second campaign in 1979 – 1980.
The Cleveland Barons were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1976 to 1978. They were a relocation of the California Golden Seals franchise, which had played in Oakland since 1967. After only two seasons, the team merged with the Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars). As a result the NHL fielded only 17 teams during the 1978 – 1979 season.
San Francisco – Cleveland – Bloomington – Dallas
1967 – Present / National Hockey League
1993 – Present / Dallas Stars
1967 – 1993 / Minnesota North Stars
1976 – 1978 / Cleveland Barons
1970 – 1976 / California Golden Seals
1967 – 1970 / Oakland Seals
1967 / California Seals
Barons – Named after Cleveland’s AHL team, which played from 1937 to 1972, until the city got a WHA franchise.
Stanley Cup 0
2001 – Present / American Airlines Center
1993 – 2001 / Reunion Arena
1967 – 1993 / Met Center
1976 – 1978 / Richfield Coliseum
1967 – 1976 / Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena
2011 – Present / Tom Gaglardi
1995 – 2011 / Tom Hicks
1991 – 1995 / Norman Green
1989 – 1991 / Howard Baldwin and Morris Belzberg
1967 – 1989 / Walter Bush, Jr. and John Driscoll
1976 – 1978 / Melvin Swig and George Gund III
1970 – 1975 / Melvin Swig (California Golden Seals)
1967 – 1970 / Barry Van Gerbig (California Seals)
7 / Neal Broten
8 / Bill Goldsworthy
9 / Mike Modano
19 / Bill Masterton
26 / Jere Lehtinen
99 / Wayne Gretzky
*Blue is this team’s history