AHL, american hockey league, Bernie Parent, Boston Bruins, central hockey league, CHL Blazers, Doug Favell, Doug Sauter, ECHL, Erick Lizon, Gerry Cheevers, Gerry Fleming, Glen Sauther, Hardy Sauter, J.P. Parise, Joe Burton, Michel Beausoleil, OKC Barons, OKC Blazers, OKC Stars, OKC Warriors, Oklahoma City Barons, Oklahoma City Blazers, Oklahoma City Hockey History, Peter Arvanitis, RG Flath, Todd Nelson, Tulsa Oilers, Tyler Fleck, Wade Brookbank, Wichita Thunder
Dear OKC Blazers and Barons fans,
Here’s the sad reality …. you’ve lost both your CHL Blazers and your AHL Barons teams within the last six years. The OKC Blazers had their long acclaimed historic run, and won their titles and still hold dear places in your hearts, but you will never recreate that old Central Hockey League team ever. Times have changed and hockey has changed greatly since those rock ’em, sock ’em fighting wild and woolly CHL days. Never again will you see that. Ever. And trying to recreate it again will just break your hearts. Please — forget your wishes to name any new team coming into OKC the Blazers. Cherish your memories of the old Blazers team. Celebrate the Blazers’ glory years, Coach Doug Sauter and your memories of Joe Burton, Hardy Sauter, Peter Arvanitis, Michel Beausoleil, Tyler Fleck, Wade Brookbank … the names go on and on.
Did you know that RG Flath and Erick Lizon played some games with the recent Blazers team? They are currently with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder. And Lizon was also an OKC Barons player for a while as well!
And have you ever looked at the early OKC Blazers team during the Boston Bruins years? They were simply amazing! Take a look at their 1965-66 and 1966-67 rosters! You’ll find Glen Sauther, Gerry Cheevers, Bernie Parent, Doug Favell, J.P. Parise, on and on. Just magical! Search any of this group and you are faced with NHL hockey history! True Hockey Hall of Famers!
And for OKC Barons fans, you’ve watched Todd Nelson’s OKC Barons go to the playoffs every year in OKC since their beginnings in the fall of 2010, and now we follow Nelly’s transition to the NHL, and Gerry Fleming’s well-deserved promotion. As the team currently sits at the top of the Western Conference, and is ranked 3rd in the AHL league, this season in OKC will be special, but also bittersweet. All of you have loved AHL hockey in OKC, but will you ever see it again? For that to happen several things must take place. First, you and the new team have to convince all hockey fans in OKC, and hopefully those Blazers fans who refused to attend the Barons games, that if they like hockey — REAL hockey of today’s world — they’d best attend the next potential team’s seasons en masse, otherwise, everyone loses hockey in OKC. Secondly, hockey needs a breath of fresh air in OKC. By that I mean it needs new ownership and new management since neither Blazer fans nor Barons fans will tolerate the same thing happening again. Since December 18th I’ve heard and seen “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” far too many times to believe that anyone, both Blazers and Barons fans, will ever forget. There are no third chances here.
For now the best chance of any professional hockey in town would be ECHL hockey. For those AHL fans who say they can’t tolerate lower league hockey, I challenge all of you to attend a top ECHL team’s game and then let’s talk. Yes, there are some differences, but if you want live professional hockey you don’t have many choices. NHL is not coming to town. Those days and dreams are long over.
With the Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder joining the ECHL this season, OKC is a natural for another ECHL team. The rivalry from the old CHL days is still alive and well — I’ve even heard it inside the Cox arena during an OKC Barons hockey night. It is alive and strong and would serve the ECHL well. Do OKC fans want hockey to return to OKC? Then you have to put your money where your mouth is and support the next team that comes to town. Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Buy tickets and attend the games, yes, even on a Tuesday night. Because if you don’t, forget hockey in OKC for a long time. That’s the sad reality of the situation.
Oklahoma City has a rich hockey history, one that is worthy of celebration and honor — in addition to your AHL’s OKC Barons (2010-15), and the most recent OKC Blazers (1992-99), OKC hockey fans have cheered for earlier OKC Blazers’ teams (1965-72; 1973-77), the OKC Stars (1978-82), and the AHA’s OKC Warriors (1933-36). Any new team and their fans need to embrace that long and historic heritage and encourage fans to discover more about Oklahoma’s hockey history through special promotion nights and historical jersey nights, while watching and investing in a new era of OKC hockey. That more than anything will open the doors and welcome all OKC hockey fans back into an arena.