Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Midseason Meltdowns’ tag

1975-1977 Albuquerque Chaparrals

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1975-76 Albuquerque Chaparrals ProgramSouthwest Hockey League (1975-1977)

Born: 1975 – SWHL founding franchise
Folded: January 25, 1977

Arena: Tingley Coliseum

Team Colors:



The Albuquerque Chaparrals were a senior amateur hockey team that skated for one-and-a-half chaotic seasons during the mid-1970’s.  The Chaparrals were founded by the controversial Las Vegas construction baron, casino owner and Nazi party enthusiast Ralph Englestad and his brother Richard in 1975.

The Engelstads launched the Southwest Hockey League from their headquarters in Las Vegas, where Ralph owned the Flamingo Capri Motel and Casino. The concept of the SWHL was that players would attend college or vocational school while competing in the league’s 72-game winter schedule. Since the players were amateur, they did not draw salaries.  Team owners were expected to provide room and board, pay for players’ tuition and books, and a small weekly expense stipend. SWHL franchises formed in Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas.

The Chaparrals finished in 2nd place in the SWHL with a 39-32-1 during their debut run in 1975-76. Following the season, the Engelstads sold the Chaparrals to E.W. McIntrye for a reported $100,000.

Financial troubles doomed the SWHL during its second season. Six teams started the season, but clubs in Bismarck and Minot swiftly went under.

Albuquerque had problems too. In December 1976, the team organized a promotion with a man named George Hartnett (identified by The Albuquerque Journal as “a hot air balloon promoter”). Hartnett would attempt to sell five thousand $1.00 tickets to a Chaps home date at the Tingley Coliseum on December 10, 1976. Gate receipts would pay for travel home for the Christmas holidays for the Chaps players, many of whom hailed from the Western provinces of Canada. The promotion flopped and General Manager Leo Zani declined to give any of the money raised to the players. Chaparrals coach Bob Gernander and 12 of his players resigned from the team in protest.

The team re-organized and soldiered on under new head coach Cal Swenson. But by the end of January 1977 the SWHL’s remaining four clubs decided to call it quits, cancelling the final 30 or so games of the 1976-77 season.


2014 Boston Brawlers

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Boston BrawlersFall Experimental Football League (2014)

Born: 2014 – FXFL founding franchise
2015 (Mahoning Valley Brawlers)

Stadium: Harvard Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: FXFL


The Boston Brawlers were an misbegotten minor league football effort that managed two stage just two games at Harvard Stadium in the fall of 2014 before evaporating.  The Brawlers were part of a start-up called the Fall Experimental Football League which suddenly popped up in three cities (Boston, Brooklyn, Omaha) in the summer of 2014 with virtually no advance publicity, sales effort or investors .  (A fourth team, the “Florida” Blacktips had no home base and rounded out schedule as a travel-only squad).

The Brawlers’ biggest name was quarterback Tahj Boyd.  Boyd, the 2012 ACC Player-of-the-Year at Clemson, was the 6th round draft pick of the New York Jets earlier in 2014. After getting cut in training camp, Boyd latched on with the Brawlers for a couple of games.

The Brawlers played in the league’s debut game on October 8th, 2014, losing 41-18 to the Omaha Mammoths at TD Ameritrade Park in Nebraska.  Meanwhile, back in Boston, the Brawlers neglected to do any local promotion, short of an agreement to air a few game broadcasts on NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network. Boston Globe sportswriter Stan Grossfeld, who covered the team’s second and final appearance at a near-empty Harvard Stadium in November 2014, noted that the team’s pugilistic logo “looks more like V.I. Lenin than John L. Sullivan”.

On November 7, 2014 30 days after the FXFL debuted, league founder Brian Woods announced the cancellation of the league’s final regular season contest and championship game. After the season, many FXFL players complained on social media of unpaid salaries.

Surprisingly, the FXFL returned to play in 2015 with a new business model. Brooklyn returned,  but gone were the major/mid-major markets of Boston and Omaha.  In their place, the FXFL formed partnerships with minor league baseball operators to handle promotion and operations.  The Brawlers were re-purposed as the Mahoning Valley Brawlers, to be operated by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers baseball team in Niles, Ohio.

On September 28, 2015 the FXFL folded the Mahoning Valley Brawlers franchise one week before the planned kickoff of the 2015 season.



The Boston Brawlers host the Brooklyn Bolts at Harvard Stadium. November 2014.


The Brawlers planned move to the Mahoning Valley in Ohio, plugged in a July 2015 WKBN news package.


Written by AC

November 11th, 2015 at 2:40 pm

1996-2000 Edmonton Drillers

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Edmonton Drillers Media GuideNational Professional Soccer League (1996-2000)

Born: August 23, 1996 – The Chicago Power relocate to Edmonton.
Folded: November 30, 2000

Arena: Edmonton Coliseum

Team Colors:


NPSL Championships: None

Deepest Playoff Run: Semi-Finalist 1999, 2000


The Edmonton Drillers indoor soccer team of the late 1990’s was a brand revival of the original Edmonton Drillers (1979-1982) of the North American Soccer League.  The NASL Drillers competed year-round, playing outdoors at Commonwealth Stadium and Clarke Stadium in the spring and summer and indoors at the Northlands Coliseum during the wintertime.

Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington owned the original Drillers and he was also the man who re-established the club in 1996 by purchasing and relocating the insolvent Chicago Power franchise in the National Professional Soccer League. Pocklington hired Ross Ongaro, a veteran of the NASL Drillers squads, to coach the team.

Two years later, Pocklington’s creditors forced him to sell off the Oilers and his other sporting assets. The Drillers appeared to be dead in the water in the spring of 1998.  The team’s 10-person staff was let go and the team sat dark for much of the summer as Pocklington’s sports empire was disassembled.

In late July, a local white knight appeared in the person of advertising executive Wojtek Wojcicki.  The Drillers had their most successful on-field moments during Wojcicki’s ownership, including a divisional championship in 1999 and back-to-back playoff semi-final appearances in 1999 and 2000.  But the ad man didn’t have the money to shoulder the Drillers’ red ink and unfavorable lease at the Northlands Coliseum for long.

On November 15, 2000, Wojcicki missed payroll for the Drillers. The team was just one month into its fifth season of play. The NPSL took over operation of the club for two weeks. But the league’s other owners had little appetite to underwrite the Drillers’ losses for the rest of the winter. With no local buyer on the horizon, the NPSL terminated the franchise on November 30th, 2000, just 9 games into a planned 40-game schedule.




The Edmonton Drillers Archive

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs


1984 Houston Shamrocks

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Women's American Basketball Association GuideWomen’s American Basketball Association (1984)

Born: 1984 – WABA founding franchise.
Folded: December 1984

Arena: University of St. Thomas

Team Colors: Kelly Green & White

Owner: Vic Bonner


The Houston Shamrocks were an obscure women’s pro basketball team that played for just two months in the doomed Women’s American Basketball Association in the autumn of 1984. The league was an attempt to capitalize on the spotlight on women’s basketball afforded by the 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics. But the WABA was poorly organized and desperately under-financed.  Although the USA won the gold medal in women’s basketball, only two members of the American team, Lea Henry and Pam McGee, signed to play in the WABA that fall.

The league was a shambles from the start, with franchises dropping out left and right and checks bouncing higher than the WABA’s official Spalding game balls.  The entire thing came crashing down in early December 1984 after less than two months of play.

The Shamrocks were the weakest entry in the 6-team circuit.  The big name attached to the team was Head Coach Elvin Hayes, the future NBA Hall-of-Famer who retired from the Houston Rockets after the 1983-84 season.  The Shamrocks also managed to sign Lea Henry, one of the few 1984 U.S. Olympians who agreed to play in the league.

When the league folded in December, the Shamrocks languished in last place with a 3-14 record.



1984 Houston Shamrocks Schedule



Women’s American Basketball Association Programs


1990-1992 Saskatchewan Storm


Saskatchewan StormWorld Basketball League (1990-1992)

Born: 1990 – WBL expansion franchise.
Died: August 1, 1992 – The WBL folds in midseason.

Arena: Saskatchewan Place (7,865)

Team Colors: Purple & Gold

Owners: World Basketball League & ?


The Saskatchewan Storm were a minor league basketball team that competed in the World Basketball League from 1990 until the league’s midseason demise in 1992.  The WBL played an exciting, fast-breaking style of ball, thanks to a rule that limited eligibility to player 6′ 5″ and under (later raised to 6′ 7″ in the league’s final season.)

The WBL had a handful of clubs scattered thousands of miles apart across North America.  The league was organized as a sort of modified single-entity structure, with a group of Youngstown, Ohio businessmen serving as general partners and owning 60% of most franchises. But the heart of the league was in Canada, where teams like the Storm, the Calgary 88’s and the Winnipeg Thunder drew strong crowds.  Saskatchewan led the WBL in attendance in 1990 with an announced average of 4,193 fans per game.

During the Storm’s third season in 1992, the WBL began to experience severe distress. With the centralized general partnership structure, even those franchises with partial local ownership relied on the Ohio league office to fund a significant portion of local expenses. Suddenly the flow of money stopped. The league ran up six figure debts to the Canadian franchises.  League founder and front man Mickey Monus was nowhere to be found. The WBL abruptly shuttered its two Florida franchises a few weeks into the season in June 1992. At the league All-Star Game in July, league officials handed a check for $48,000 to the host Hamilton Skyhawks. It bounced.

Eventually it came out that Mickey Monus funded the WBL for years with funds embezzled from the Youngstown-based Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain.  In addition, many of the WBL’s sponsors and advertisers were Phar-Mor suppliers whose arms were twisted to support Monus’ basketball hobby. With Monus on the run and about to be incarcerated, the WBL collapsed like the proverbial house of cards.  The league folded in midseason on August 1, 1992.  The night before, the Saskatchewan Storm were stranded in Dayton, Ohio when no one could come up with the money to fly them home from what turned out to be their final game.

The WBL’s relatively successful Canadian franchises banded together to start a new Canada-only league in 1993 called the National Basketball League. Saskatoon had a franchise in the NBL, but with new ownership and a new identity – the “Saskatoon Slam” – to distance themselves from the scorched earth left behind by the WBL. The NBL lasted a year-and-a-half before closing down midway through the 1994 season.


==Saskatchewan Storm Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1992 6/16/1992 @ Calgary 88's L 120-114 Program



Saskatchewan Storm vs. Calgary 88’s at the Saddledome in Calgary. Summer 1991.


==Downloads & Links==

2012 interview with former WBL Director of Public Relations Jimmy Oldham

Justia case summary: United States of America vs. Michael I. Monus



World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs



Written by AC

May 4th, 2015 at 1:06 am