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They were variously called the Oakland Seals, California Seals and California Golden Seals. Their time in the NHL was a colorful one but not necessarily successful either on the ice or off.

Until recently the Bay Area’s first NHL team was largely overlooked or forgotten.

But now they have finally received some much deserved recognition.

On January 7, the San Jose Sharks marked the 50th anniversary of NHL hockey’s arrival in the San Francisco Bay Area by honoring the Seals.

Initially named California Seals, the team was renamed Oakland Seals partway through the 1967–68 season (on December 8, 1967), and then to California Golden Seals in 1970. The Seals were one of six teams added to the league as part of the 1967 NHL Expansion. Based in Oakland, they played their home games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. However, the Seals were never successful at the gate, and eventually moved to Cleveland to become the Cleveland Barons in 1976.

Several prominent Seals alumni appeared at the game to be recognized, including the Seals’ all-time games-played leader Bert Marshall, leading goal scorer Dennis Maruk, and the all-time winningest goalie in franchise history, Gilles Meloche. Norm Ferguson, who played in 279 games with the Seals from 1968-72 and Ernie Hicke, a veteran of 146 games with the Seals from 1970-72, along with goaltender Gary “Cobra” Simmons (74 games) was also there. Furthermore, former Seals radio play-by-play announcers Tim Ryan and Joe Starkey, and long-time team public relations staffer Len Shapiro were on-hand.

For fans and followers of the Seals there is more to come. Stay tuned for a new documentary film to be released about the club.

In the meantime, hats off to the Seals who are finally receiving the attention they deserve. And, a shout out to the Sharks for putting it all together.

More on a memorable evening.

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