Friday, December 20, 2013

Broome Dusters (1979-80, AHL)

These programs are from the final season of the Broome Dusters. They are also the thickest programs I have of that franchise.


1979-80 Regular Season--Dusters vs. Hershey Bears
    Another season, another new coach and GM. This time, Pat Kelly was behind the bench to start the year, but after an 8-19-3 record, was canned in favor of Dave Forbes. Jacques Caron was the new GM. The team had two new NHL affiliates, as Boston and Los Angeles aligned with Binghamton.
     This season's Dusters fell right back to the Southern Division cellar. Their woeful 24-49-7 was the worst in the AHL, 11 points behind Rochester. Naturally, this team had problems putting the puck in and keeping it out. On offense, the Dusters scored an anemic 268 goals, second worst in the league. Tom Songin led the team in points with only 63. Gary Burns was the only player to score 30, but four others scored over 20. 
     On defense, Binghamton allowed 334 goals, second-worst in the league. Once again, the team used six different goaltenders. Lorne Molleken played the lions-share of games that season. In 31 appearances, Molleken had a 9-18-2 record with a reasonable 3.85 GAA. Yves Belanger got into 25 games, sporting a 7-13-1 mark with a 4.27 GAA.
     Finishing in the league cellar after an exciting playoff run did not help with attendance. The numbers continued to decline after Year One, as the Dusters drew 3,329 per game, seventh in the AHL. 

     Of the three seasons, this is the largest Dusters program I have. It has 48 pages, mostly black-and-white pictures but a few color ads. There are a couple articles, but no player insert like Year One. I recognized a few players on the Dusters roster. Craig MacTavish went on to win five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers. Lorne Molleken would eventually play for the IHL's Toledo Goaldiggers, then later coach in the NHL with Chicago. Hershey's roster features goaltenders Rollie Boutin (formerly of the IHL Port Huron Flags) and Dave Parro (later with the IHL's Flint Spirits). Coach Gary Green would eventually be called up to the Washington Capitals. In the program below, Syracuse featured Ron Low in goal, who played in the NHL for several teams, including Detroit. Gordie Brooks played for the Saginaw Gears.
     
   
1979-80 Regular Season--Dusters vs. Syracuse Firebirds
Aftermath:
While the Broome Dusters were generally a bottom-feeder in their 3-year AHL existence, hockey wasn't dead in Binghamton. The franchise became the primary affiliate of the Hartford Whalers and changed names to "Binghamton Whalers". The Whalers would make the Calder Cup Finals in 1981-82, but lost to New Brunswick in five games. 
     In 1990-91, the Whalers switched parent clubs again. This time they were aligned with the New York Rangers, and thus became the Binghamton Rangers. The Rangers stuck around through the 1996-97 season. Despite averaging over 4,000 per game the past three seasons, New York relocated the franchise to Hartford, Connecticut. The franchise still exists as the Hartford Wolfpack.
     Binghamton would join the United Hockey League. The BC Icemen would exist for five seasons, but the crowds did not respond as strongly to them as they did to the Dusters/Whalers/Rangers franchise. In 2002, the AHL returned in the form of the Binghamton Senators, which exist to this day.


Sources:
Broome Dusters programs
Broome Dusters Statistics, at HockeyDB.com

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