This is a great looking program. Maybe because I’m a sucker for orange. Have been ever since I watched Super Bowl XVII back in 1983 at age 7 and fell in love with the Miami Dolphins (temporarily) and their alcoholic, overmatched quarterback David Woodley (even more temporarily – they drafted Dan Marino a few months later) solely because of their aqua & orange uniforms.
The Edmonton Oilers were another great orange team of the era. The Oilers were loaded with young talent, from the scoring trio of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri to the goaltending tandem of Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. Between 1984 and 1990, the Oilers would reel off five Stanley Cup victories in seven seasons.
In 1982 owner Peter Pocklington purchased an American Hockey League team to play at the Moncton Coliseum in New Brunswick and serve as an Oilers farm club. Mark Messier’s dad,Doug Messier, served as Moncton’s Head Coach and General Manager.
In that era, it was conventional for farm clubs to simply adopt the brand identity of the parent club. For example, the Alpines opponent on this evening was the Sherbrooke Jets from the province of Quebec. The Jets were a farm club of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. But the Oilers went a different direction, striking a $125,000 naming rights deal with Moosehead Breweries to name the club after Moosehead’s Alpine lager beer brand. It was a creative promotion on the part of Moosehead, since traditional media advertising of alcohol was illegal in the province of New Brunswick at the time. And thus the short-lived Moncton Alpines were born.
Moncton’s success under Doug Messier didn’t mirror that of their NHL dynasty parent club. The Alpines failed to make the AHL playoffs in either season of their existence from 1982 to 1984. The Alpines didn’t develop much talent for the big club either, instead producing a handful of journeymen the likes of John Blum and Don Nachbaur who bounced around the league in limited action in the mid-late 1980′s. Future Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr did spend a brief 10-game stint with the Alpines during the 1982-83 season, however.
Attendance was mediocre at the Moncton Coliseum according to hockeydb.com, with average crowds of 3,447 in 1982-83 and 3,117 in 1983-84.
One roster curiosity for the Alpines with Bill “Goldie” Goldthorpe who came out of retirement (or was it imprisonment?) to play a single game for the ‘Pines during the 1983-84 season. The infamous goon of the 1970′s was the inspiration for the dreaded Ogie Oglethorpe character in the 1977 Paul Newman classic Slap Shot.
In the spring of 1984 the Oilers pulled their AHL affiliate out of Moncton and relocated to the Halifax Metro Centre in Nova Scotia. The AHL quickly filled the void, placing another team – the Golden Flames – at the Coliseum for the 1984-85 season. Pro hockey remained in Moncton until 1994 when the AHL left, seemingly for good, as part of the growing league’s withdrawal from the small cities of Canada’s maritime provinces in the 1990′s and early 2000′s.
On a semi-related note, let me make a plug here for Len Whisler’s excellent website Stubby.ca, which presents a fascinating history of the Canadian provincial beer industry during the 1960′s through the early 1980′s, specifically the once ubiquitous but now defunct “stubby” bottle. Len provided the photo of Alpine Lager Beer for this post.