Cleveland Barons (1937–1973)

Last updated
Cleveland Barons
Cleveland barons old ahl 200x200.png
City Cleveland, Ohio
League American Hockey League
Operated1937–February 1973
Home arena Cleveland Arena
ColorsRoyal Blue & White
Franchise history
1929–1934 IHL Cleveland Indians
1934–1937 IHL/I-AHL Cleveland Falcons
February 1973 I-AHL/AHL
Cleveland Barons
Jacksonville Barons
Regular season titles8 (1937–38, 1943–44, 1944–45, 1946–47, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1952–53)
Division Championships10 (1937–38, 1940–41,
1943–44, 1944–45, 1946–47, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1952–53, 1961–62)
Calder Cups9 (1938–39, 1940–41,
1944–45, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1963–64)

The Cleveland Barons were a minor league professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League. They played in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cleveland Arena. The most successful team in AHL history, the original incarnation of the Barons played in the AHL from 1937 to 1973. In that time, they won ten division titles and nine Calder Cups, which, although the team had been defunct for over three decades, remained a record until 2009, when the Hershey Bears won their 10th Calder Cup. In 1973, they relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, where they were known as the Jacksonville Barons; they lasted only through the 1973–1974 season before folding.



Barons alternate logo. ClevelandBarons4.png
Barons alternate logo.

The team traces its roots back to the 1929–30 season of the International Hockey League, as the "Cleveland Indians." The Indians played for five seasons, until being renamed the Cleveland Falcons for the 1934–35 season. The Falcons played for three more years, when they became the Barons in 1937–38.

From 1934 to 1949, the team was owned by Al Sutphin, who was also an owner of the Braden-Sutphin Ink Company in Cleveland. [1] Sutphin, a true sportsman, was known to often pay better salaries than NHL teams at the time (1930s and 1940s), and some players preferred to remain in "minor league" Cleveland instead of playing in the "major" NHL. Sutphin built the Cleveland Arena, at the time one of the largest and most beautiful hockey facilities in North America. It was rumored that the dormant Montreal Maroons NHL franchise would be transferred to Cleveland but nothing came of it. [2]

Sutphin sold the team and arena in 1949. The Barons sought acceptance into the National Hockey League during the early 1950s, but purported financing irregularities caused the NHL to turn down the bid. The Barons then challenged the NHL for the right to play for the Stanley Cup, which was also rejected. During the 1940s and 1950s, the Barons played to standing-room-only audiences.

The preeminent star of the franchise was Fred Glover, the team's career leader in goals, assists, points, penalty minutes and seasons, (and second in league history in all those categories). Also notable was Hall of Famer goaltender Johnny Bower, who before he starred in the NHL played brilliantly for the Barons for nine seasons and is the AHL's career shutout leader. From 1949 to 1961, the Barons' general manager was James C. Hendy, a Hall of Fame Builder and the first prominent statistician in the history of the sport. Other notable players included Les Cunningham, a five-time league All-Star for whom the AHL's MVP award is named, Jack Gordon, Norm Beaudin, Bill Needham (the team's career leader in games played), Cal Stearns, Fred Thurier and Les Binkley.

In 1972, Barons owner Nick Mileti became the owner of a new team in the World Hockey Association (WHA), which had been founded as a second major league in competition with the NHL. The appearance of this new team, the Cleveland Crusaders, saw the market for the minor league product vanish almost overnight. The Barons could not compete with the WHA practice of hiring ex-NHL players whose contracts had expired, and consequently lost many fans. In addition, creation of the new "major league" drew much of the established talent away from the AHL. Mileti decided the teams could not co-exist, and moved the Barons mid-season in January 1973, to Jacksonville, Florida. [3] Scheduling conflicts caused the Barons to stay in Cleveland for a month The Barons played their last game in Cleveland, a 5-1 loss to the Richmond Robins on February 4, 1973 on front of 435 fans. The Jacksonville Barons, as they were then known, played in the Jacksonville Coliseum, which had previously been home to the Jacksonville Rockets of the Eastern Hockey League. The Barons drew a crowd of 9,189 to their first game in the Jacksonville, but attendance declined afterward. They played one further season in Jacksonville before Mileti determined the franchise was not viable. Stating that he had lost around $1 million, he folded the team and sold it to a group in Syracuse, New York which became the Syracuse Eagles. [3]

The team was replaced in this market by:

Team records

Single season
Goals: Lou Trudel, 45, 1945
Assists: Fred Glover, 69, 1960
Points: Glover, 107, 1960
Career goals: Glover, 410
Career assists: Glover, 695
Career points: Glover, 1105
Career penalty minutes: Glover, 2164
Career goaltending Wins: Johnny Bower, 284
Career shutouts: Bower, 38
Career games: Bill Needham, 981

Season-by-season results

Regular season

1929–3042249957125781st, IHL
1930–314824186541311123rd, IHL
1931–324815258381101427th, IHL
1932–334210275251001476th, IHL
1933–344416244361041216th, IHL
1934–354420231401151324th, IHL
1935–364825194541491462nd, West
1936–37 4813278341131523rd, West
1937–38 48251211611261141st, West
1938–39 5423229551451383rd, West
1939–40 5624248561271304th, West
1940–41 5626219611771621st, West
1941–42 5633194701741523rd, West
1942–43 5621296481901964th, West
1943–44 5433147732241761st, West
1944–45 60341016782561991st, West
1945–46 6228268642692543rd, West
1946–47 6438188842722151st, West
1947–48 68431312983321971st, West
1948–49 6841216882862513rd, West
1949–50 704515101003572301st, West
1950–51 7144225932812211st, West
1951–52 6844195932651662nd, West
1952–53 6442202862481641st, AHL
1953–54 7038320762692273rd, AHL
1954–55 6432293672542222nd, AHL
1955–56 6426317592252314th, AHL
1956–57 6435263732492102nd, AHL
1957–58 7039283812321632nd, AHL
1958–59 7037303772612522nd, AHL
1959–60 7234308762672294th, AHL
1960–61 7236351732312343rd, AHL
1961–62 7039283812552031st, West
1962–63 7231347692702532nd, West
1963–64 7237305792392073rd, West
1964–65 7224435532282854th, West
1965–66 7238322782432172nd, West
1966–67 7236279812842303rd, West
1967–68 72283014702362554th, West
1968–69 74303212722132452nd, West
1969–70 72233316622222554th, West
1970–71 7239267852722082nd, West
1971–72 76323410742692634th, West
1972–73 7623449552513295th, West
1973–74 7624448562443345th, South


Season1st round2nd roundFinals
1929–30W, 2–0, London W, 3–1, Buffalo
1930–313rd place in double round robin.
1931–32Out of playoffs
1932–33Out of playoffs
1933–34Out of playoffs
1934–35L, 0–2, London
1935–36L, 1–3, Buffalo
1936–37 Data unavailable
1937–38 Data unavailable
1938–39 ????W, 3–1, Philadelphia
1939–40 Out of playoffs
1940–41 W, 3–1, Providence byeW, 3–2, Hershey
1941–42 W, 2–0, Washington L, 1–2, Hershey
1942–43 W, 2–0, Providence L, 0–2, Indianapolis
1943–44 W, 4–3, Hershey L, 0–4, Buffalo
1944–45 W, 4–2, Buffalo W, 4–2, Hershey
1945–46 W, 2–0, Providence W, 2–1, Pittsburgh L, 3–4, Buffalo
1946–47 L, 0–4, Hershey
1947–48 W, 4–1, Providence byeW, 4–0, Buffalo
1948–49 W, 2–1, Springfield L, 0–2, Hershey
1949–50 W, 4–1, Buffalo byeL, 0–4, Indianapolis
1950–51 W, 4–0, Buffalo byeW, 4–3, Pittsburgh
1951–52 L, 2–3, Providence
1952–53 W, 3–1, Syracuse W, 4–3, Pittsburgh
1953–54 W, 3–0, Buffalo W, 4–2, Hershey
1954–55 L, 1–3, Buffalo
1955–56 W, 3–1, Pittsburgh L, 0–4, Providence
1956–57 W, 4–3, Hershey W, 4–1, Rochester
1957–58 L, 3–4, Springfield
1958–59 L, 3–4, Hershey
1959–60 L, 3–4, Rochester
1960–61 L, 0–4, Springfield
1961–62 L, 2–4, Springfield
1962–63 W, 2–0, Rochester L, 2–3, Hershey
1963–64 W, 2–0, Rochester W, 3–0, Hershey W, 4–0, Quebec
1964–65 Out of playoffs
1965–66 W, 3–0, Pittsburgh W, 3–0, Springfield L, 2–4, Rochester
1966–67 L, 2–3, Rochester
1967–68 Out of playoffs
1968–69 L, 2–3, Quebec
1969–70 Out of playoffs
1970–71 W, 3–1, Hershey L, 1–3, Springfield
1971–72 L, 2–4, Baltimore
1972–73 Out of playoffs
1973–74 Out of playoffs

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  1. George Condon (1995). "Chapter 7, Sutphin's Surprise". The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of A.C. Sutphin. The A.C. Sutphin Foundation. pp. 51–67. ISBN   0-9649900-1-6.
  2. Condon, op.cit. p.75-77
  3. 1 2 Basch, Mark (November 8, 2004). "Hockey's future a lot brighter in Jacksonville". The Florida Times-Union . Retrieved December 16, 2010.