Seattle Totems

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Seattle Totems
City Seattle, Washington
LeagueNIHL (1943–44)
PCHL (1944–52)
WHL (1952–74)
CHL (1974–75)
Home arena Civic Ice Arena
Seattle Center Coliseum
Colors1958–66: Blue, red and white.
1966–75: kelly green and white.
Franchise history
1943-44Seattle Isacsson Iron Workers (NIHL)
1944–52Seattle Ironmen (PCHL)
1952–54Seattle Bombers (WHL)
1955–58Seattle Americans (WHL)
1958–74Seattle Totems (WHL)
1974–75Seattle Totems (CHL)
Playoff championships3 (1959, 1967, 1968) [1]

The Seattle Totems were a professional ice hockey franchise in Seattle, Washington. Under several names prior to 1958, the franchise was a member of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (renamed the Western Hockey League in 1952) between 1944 and 1974. In their last season of existence, the Totems played in the Central Hockey League in the 1974–75 season. They played their home games in the Civic Ice Arena and later at the Seattle Center Coliseum. The Totems won three WHL Lester Patrick Cup championships in 1959, 1967 and 1968.


The Totems were one of the few American-based professional clubs to play a touring Soviet team. On December 25, 1972, the Totems lost to the Soviets 9–4. [2] A rematch between the two teams was held on January 4, 1974, where, led by Don Westbrooke's three goals, the Totems won 8–4.

Franchise history

Seattle Ironmen (1944–52)

After World War II, the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL), a major professional league on the West Coast in the 1910s and 1920s, was resurrected as a semi-professional loop. Seattle, as a strong hockey town and notable for being the first city outside of Canada to host a Stanley Cup champion (the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans), was granted a franchise. The club had been founded as an amateur team the previous year, [3] where they were known as the Seattle Isacsson Iron Workers, playing in the Northwest International Hockey League. [4] When they entered the PCHL they were renamed the Seattle Ironmen. The club had modest success, finishing in first place in the league in 1948, while the league itself became fully professional in 1949. Its most notable stars were Gordon Kerr, the team's leading scorer in those years with 235 points in 244 games, William Robinson, Eddie Dartnell and Joe Bell. Among other notables for the team were future NHL star goaltender Al Rollins and legendary Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero.

Seattle Bombers (1952–54)

In 1952, the league changed its name to the Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Ironmen themselves changed their name to the Seattle Bombers the following season. The team continued to play poorly for two seasons, and the only bright spot was the debut for Seattle of the greatest minor league scorer of all time, Guyle Fielder. After two seasons of increasing travel costs—for which the Bombers received aid from the league—Seattle suspended operations for the 1955 season.

Seattle Americans (1955–58)

Logo for the Seattle Americans Seattleamerks.jpg
Logo for the Seattle Americans

The team rejoined the WHL as the Seattle Americans the following season, finishing in first place in 1957 led by a tremendous season by Fielder, who broke the professional single season scoring record with 122 points en route to Most Valuable Player honors and the first of four straight scoring championships for Seattle. Among other notables for the Americans were Val Fonteyne, notable as the least penalized player of all time, future Vezina winner Charlie Hodge, and future National Hockey League general managers Emile Francis and Keith Allen. The team's final season as the Americans, in 1958, saw the first time the franchise would win a playoff series.

Seattle Totems (1958–75)

The Americans were renamed the Seattle Totems for the 1958–59 season, the name by which it would go for the rest of its existence. Fielder and Filion remained the team's great stars, but like many other WHL teams the Totems had very stable rosters, and players such as Marc Boileau, Gerry Leonard, Bill MacFarland, Jim Powers, Gordie Sinclair and future NHL coach and general manager Tom McVie spent many seasons each in Seattle colors. Allen was the team's coach its first seven seasons as the Totems, guiding the team to a first-place finish in 1959 and to the playoffs six out of the seven years of his tenure. The Totems played the 1974–75 season in the Central Hockey League after the WHL folded.

Original terminated and future NHL franchise

On June 12, 1974, the NHL announced that a Seattle group headed by Vince Abbey had been awarded an expansion team to begin play in the 1976–77 season. [5] A $180,000 deposit was due by the end of 1975 and the total franchise fee was $6 million. [6] [7] Additionally, Abbey had to repurchase the shares in the Totems held by the Vancouver Canucks, who were using the minor-league Totems as a farm club. [5] The expansion announcement also included a franchise for Denver, and with the loss of two more of its major markets, the WHL announced on the same day that it was folding. [8] The Totems joined the Central Hockey League for 1974–75. [9]

After missing a number of deadlines while scrambling to secure financing, the NHL threatened to pull the franchise as there were a number of other suitors in the wings.[ citation needed ] Abbey allegedly passed on an opportunity to purchase a WHA team for $2 million during this period,[ citation needed ] and he missed an opportunity to acquire an existing franchise when the Pittsburgh Penguins were sold in a bankruptcy auction for $4.4 million in June 1975. [10]

The Totems folded following the 1974–75 CHL season after acquiring $2 million in debt, leaving the city without hockey for the first time in two decades; the Seattle Breakers (now the Thunderbirds) would begin play in 1977 in the junior Western Canada Hockey League. [11] After a failed attempt by Abbey to purchase the California Seals in June, the NHL pulled the expansion franchise from Seattle. [12] Abbey filed suit against the NHL and the Canucks for anti-trust violations that he alleged prevented him from acquiring a team; it was finally settled in favor of the NHL in 1986. [13] [14] In 2018, the NHL again awarded Seattle an NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, to begin play in 2021.

Season-by-season results (1958–75)

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

SeasonTeam nameGPWLTPtsGFGAPIMFinishPlayoffs
1943-44Seattle Isacsson Iron Workers1697018103870Second in LeagueLost Semi-final to Portland Oilers
1944–45Seattle Ironmen27206143161840First in NorthN/A
1945–46Seattle Ironmen5829290582512140Third in NorthLost Quarter-final to Portland Eagles, 1-2
1946–47Seattle Ironmen6034251692631950Second in NorthWon Quarter-final over New Westminster Royals, 3-1
Lost Semi-final to Portland Eagles, 2-4
1947–48Seattle Ironmen6642213873112391200First in NorthWon Quarter-final over New Westminster Royals, 3-2
Lost Semi-final to Vancouver Canucks, 1-3
1948–49Seattle Ironmen702936563225246756Fifth in NorthOut of playoffs
1949–50Seattle Ironmen7032271175212237583Fourth in NorthLost Quarter-final to New Westminster Royals, 1-3
1950–51Seattle Ironmen7023361157214249525Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1951–52Seattle Ironmen703031969252280571Fifth in LeagueLost Quarter-final to Tacoma Rockets, 1-3
1952–53Seattle Bombers703032868222225510Fifth in LeagueLost Quarter-final to Vancouver Canucks, 2-3
1953–54Seattle Bombers702241751209248536Seventh in LeagueOut of playoffs
1955–56Seattle Americans7031372642012431046Fourth in CoastOut of playoffs
1956–57Seattle Americans703628678263225734First in CoastFirst round bye
Lost Quarter-final to New Westminster Royals, 2-4
1957–58Seattle Americans703232670244231739Third in CoastWon Quarter-final over New Westminster Royals, 3-1
Lost Semi-final to Calgary Stampeders, 2-3
1958–59Seattle Totems704027383277225798First in CoastWon Quarter-final over Victoria Cougars, 3-0
Won Semi-final over Vancouver Canucks, 4-1
Won Final over Calgary Stampeders , 4-0
1959–60Seattle Totems703828480270219676Second in LeagueLost Semi-final to Victoria Cougars, 0-4
1960–61Seattle Totems703728579262222746Fourth in LeagueWon Quarter-final over Calgary Stampeders, 4-1
Semi-final bye,
Lost Final to Portland Buckaroos, 2-4
1961–62Seattle Totems703629577244222740Second in NorthernLost Quarter-final to Calgary Stampeders, 0-2
1962–63Seattle Totems703533272239237621Second in NorthernWon Quarter-final over Edmonton Flyers, 2-1
Won Semi-final over Vancouver Canucks, 4-3
Lost Final to San Francisco Seals, 3-4
1963–64Seattle Totems702935664247228757Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1964–65Seattle Totems703630476204198890Second in LeagueLost Semi-final to Victoria Maple Leafs, 3-4
1965–66Seattle Totems723237367231256751Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1966–67Seattle Totems723926785228195923Second in LeagueWon Semi-final over California Seals, 4-2
Won Final over Vancouver Canucks , 4-0
1967–68Seattle Totems723530777207199948Second in LeagueWon Semi-final over Phoenix Roadrunners, 4-0
Won Final over Portland Buckaroos , 4-1
1968–69Seattle Totems7433301177236238723Fourth in LeagueLost Semi-final to Vancouver Canucks, 0-4
1969–70Seattle Totems733035868240260746Fourth in LeagueLost Semi-final to Portland Buckaroos, 2-4
1970–71Seattle Totems722736963223260946Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1971–72Seattle Totems721253731175331957Sixth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1972–73Seattle Totems72263214662702861220Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1973–74Seattle Totems7832424682883190Fifth in LeagueOut of playoffs
1974–75Seattle Totems78293811692582961113Fourth in NorthernOut of playoffs

See also

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  3. Obermeyer, Jeff (2015). "Before the Totems". Seattle Totems. Arcadia Publishing. p. 18. ISBN   9781439652947.
  4. Fischler, Stan (January 1, 2020). "Seattle has long history of interesting hockey nicknames".
  5. 1 2 Parietti, Walt (June 12, 1974). "Seattle gets N.H.L. franchise". The Seattle Times. p. F1.
  6. Parietti, Walt (November 6, 1974). "Abbey will ask N.H.L. to speed up expansion". The Seattle Times. p. F1.
  7. Parietti, Walt (May 2, 1975). "Abbey's $6 million offer 'rejected'". The Seattle Times. p. B1.
  8. "W.H.L. ceases to exist". The Seattle Times. June 12, 1974. p. F1.
  9. Parietti, Walt (October 6, 1974). "Totem opener due Thursday". The Seattle Times. p. C8.
  10. "Seattle group bids today for Penguins". The Seattle Times. June 30, 1975. p. F1.
  11. Zimmerman, Hy (June 14, 1977). "New hockey team stirs old memories". The Seattle Times. p. D3.
  12. "Abbey says next step is lawsuit". The Seattle Times. June 25, 1975. p. C1.
  13. "Seattle and the NHL?" . Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  14. "NHL cools talk about expansion". The Seattle Times. November 11, 1986. p. E5.