Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dallas Black Hawks (1979-80, CHL)

1979-80 Regular Season
Black Hawks vs. Tulsa Oilers
     The Central Hockey League's Dallas Black Hawks had been in existence since 1967-68, relocating from St. Louis after the arrival of the NHL Blues. Originally a Chicago farm club, the Hawks were now the primary farm club of the Vancouver Canucks. The Hawks played their home games at the 7,593-seat State Fair Coliseum and were coached by John Choyce, who was also GM.
     Dallas was coming off an Adams Cup championship in 1978-79. The Hawks were a juggernaut in the CHL. Since arriving in 1967-68, Dallas had reached the Adams Cup Finals nine times in 12 years (including an incredible six years straight), winning the Cup four times.
     1979-80 would see that come to a screeching halt. Dallas would fall to last place in the CHL that year (excluding the Cincinnati Stingers, who folded at midseason). Their 29-43-8 record was eight points behind sixth-place Houston, who had the last playoff berth. The Hawks were also 39 points behind league-best Salt Lake.
     Dallas actually had a decent offense that year, as they scored 291 goals, fourth-most in the league. Leading the charge was Gary Minor, with 31 goals and 83 points. Rob Tudor had the most goals with 39, while four other Hawks had at least 20.
     Fans might as well called the Hawks the "Allas Black Hawks", because there didn't seem to be any "D" that season. The Hawks allowed 334 goals, worst by 15 goals. Four different goaltenders were between the pipes in 1979-80. Ken Ellacot was the starter and went 19-28-5 with a 3.77 GAA and 5 shutouts. Gary Bromley backed him up with an 8-9-3 record and 4.10 GAA. Curt Ridley and Rick Martens were also in goal that year.
     The defending champs laid a Texas-sized egg that year, so the Adams Cup was up for grabs. The Salt Lake Golden Eagles took home the Cup that year, defeating Fort Worth in seven games. Choyce would be replaced behind the Hawks bench by Dan Belisle the following season.
     There are 64 pages in this program, all black-and-white and on glossy paper. The Canucks are given a half-page article, including a color picture of their outrageous home "V for Victory" jerseys. Not much else in terms of articles, this one is mostly advertisements. A few players have a bio, and the rosters for the Hawks and the Tulsa Oilers (that night's opponent) are listed. Former Saginaw Gear Larry Hopkins was with Tulsa that season. As of this program, the Hawks were 3-4-1, one point behind Tulsa (4-3-0). A diagram of the Coliseum is given and ticket prices that year ranged from $3-6, and students and military personel received a $1 discount with ID. Parking was free too, btw. Local ads include WFAA News Talk 570 AM, Kip's Big Boy, Wyatt's Cafeteria's, Tony Roma's and Late Chevrolet.

Aftermath: The Hawks would rebound in 1980-81, going 56-16-8 and clinch first place. One final trip to the Adams Cup Finals in 1981-82 would be the swan song for the franchise. The Central League was spread throughout the United States, and attendance numbers could not offset the soaring travel costs. The Dallas Black Hawks, along with Fort Worth and Oklahoma, folded after the season. The CHL would follow suit in 1984. Dallas would later be home to the new CHL's Dallas Freeze from 1992-95. The Minnesota North Stars would arrive in Dallas by 1993, and are still there to this day.

Sources:
Central Hockey League Statistics: 1979-80 (from hockeydb.com)
1979-80 Dallas Blackhawks program

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