Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1982-1984 Colorado Flames

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Central Hockey League (1982-1984)

Born: July 1982 – CHL expansion franchise.
Died: May 1984 – The CHL ceases operations.

Arena: McNichols Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Douglas Spedding

 

Denver lost its NHL hockey team when the Colorado Rockies were sold and shipped east to become the New Jersey Devils in May of 1982.  Two months later, Denver car dealer Douglas Spedding stepped into the pro hockey void, entering the Colorado Flames expansion team into the Central Hockey League (1963-1984).  The Flames would serve as a farm club for the NHL’s Calgary Flames and play at McNichols Arena, the same building just abandoned by the Rockies.

Calgary had a strong farm system at the time.  Although the Flames lasted only two seasons in Denver, the club played a role in developing two future NHL All-Stars for Calgary in defenseman Al MacInnis and goaltender Mike Vernon.  MacInnis was Calgary’s 1st round selection in the 1981 NHL entry draft and Vernon was the team’s 3rd round pick in the same draft.  In 1989, five years after the demise of the Colorado Flames, Calgary won its first and only Stanley Cup.  MacInnis and Vernon were both All-Stars that season, and MacInnis won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the postseason after becoming the first defenseman ever to lead the NHL in playoff scoring.

During the Colorado Flames’ second season in the winter of 1983-84, the Central Hockey League began to collapse around the team.  League membership was down to just five teams.  The Montana Magic nearly folded during the season, and the Tulsa Oilers went bankrupt and had to play most of the season as an ownerless barnstorming team (amazingly, the Oilers won the title anyway).  The CHL folded in May of 1984.  Spedding made a few noises about applying for membership to the International Hockey League, which took in the two other solvent CHL clubs, the Indianapolis Checkers and the Salt Lake Golden Eagles.  But nothing came of those talks and the Flames ended up going out of business.

Perhaps this was because Doug Spedding had found a new plaything by this time.  In April 1984, as the CHL was coming apart, Spedding purchased the Denver Gold of the spring season United States Football League for $10 million.  As with the Flames, the auto dealer’s timing was terrible.  Just four months after he bought the Gold, a faction of USFL owners led by Donald Trump pushed through a plan to move to a fall season in 1986, which would pit the league head-to-head with the NFL.   This spelled doom for the Gold, who were one of the USFL’s most popular franchises prior to this move, but had no hope competing against the Denver Broncos in the fall.  Gold fans saw the writing on the wall and abandoned the team and Spedding lost millions operating the Gold for a year-and-a-half before the USFL folded in early 1986.

 

==Key Players==

  • Al MacInnis
  • Mike Vernon

 

 

==Links==

Central Hockey League Media Guides

Central Hockey League Programs

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Written by AC

November 2nd, 2013 at 5:53 pm

3 Responses to '1982-1984 Colorado Flames'

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  1. How much is an old colo flames puck back in the 80’s time frame seasons worth?

    Bradley Burnside

    1 Apr 16 at 10:42 pm

  2. Hi Bradley,

    Maybe $5 to $10 if it’s in good condition.

    AC

    andycrossley

    3 Apr 16 at 2:01 pm

  3. How much is an old co flames puck back in the 80’s time frame seasons worth?

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