On November 27, 1994, Raith Rovers defeated Celtic on penalty kicks in the Coca-Cola Cup at Ibrox in front of 45,384 spectators, Raith's only Scottish League Cup so far. They went on that season to win Division One and gain promotion, their fifth trip up to the top division in club history. The Cup win also qualified them for their first and only UEFA Cup competition. They beat Faroese club Gøtu Ítróttarfelag in the preliminary round, then Icelandic champion Íþróttabandalag Akraness, setting up a two-game total-goals series against German powerhouse Fußball-Club Bayern München. Munich won the first game 2 - 0, played at Hibernians' home field at Easter Road (Raith's Starks Park was undergoing renovations), and also the second game 2 - 1 at the Olympiastadion in Munich on Halloween 1995, eliminating Raith. Bayern then went on to win the UEFA Cup. Raith's greatest moment came sometime around the halftime whistle in that second game, when they were up by one. (See board, above.) Or maybe it came the next summer when they hosted Bayern to a friendly at the refurbished Starks Park, and won.
Anyway, Raith meet the Bayern Munich of the lower Clyde, Greenock Morton, today at Cappielow.
Scottish Cup round two replays go today. Forres Mechanics are still in it.
Pfft. Morton 0, Raith 1. Partick win and Ross County draw, so it's back to the bottom the Ton. Forres Mechanics also lose. Rangers and Inverness CT play to 1 - 1, ending the Gers' winning streak. Slaughter of the Week: Annan Athletic 5, Preston Athletic 0. So now we know who's more athletic.
I had a professor once who asserted that everything in the Maritimes is built with the understanding that it will eventually fall into the sea. An example of such coming-to-be and passing-away is provided by the rise and fall of the American Hockey League in Atlantic Canada from 1971 to 2005.
Minor league professional hockey is subject to flux at the best of times, but the 1970s were particularly fierce on established minor league clubs. The 1967 and 1970 expansions of the NHL robbed the AHL of three of its main markets, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo. The appearance of the WHA in 1972 removed more key markets in Cleveland, Quebec, and later Baltimore and Cincinnati, and severely depleted the pool of minor league hockey talent. The AHL clubs that survived in smaller cities like Rochester and Hershey were no longer able to contend that their brand of hockey was as good as the major league variety, as had been the case in the Fifties and early Sixties.
At the same time, though, NHL clubs were beginning to feel the need to have minor league professional farm teams manned exclusively by their own contract players. (The old senior amateur system had by now completely passed away.) In 1969 the Canadiens set up an AHL club, the Montreal Voyageurs, stocked exclusively with future Habs. To save money and make call-ups easier the minor league club was housed in the Montreal Forum.
But nobody came out to watch. The Habs at that time were the best hockey team on earth and Montreal fans considered it an affront to be asked to watch anything less than near perfection. The Canadiens management cast around and hit on the novel idea of putting the Voyageurs in the old Halifax Forum.
The Nova Scotia Voyageurs were an overnight success, in part because they fed the sense that things were finally beginning to turn around in the economically depressed Maritimes, but also because the Vees, made up as they were of the second squad of the best team on earth, could seriously have competed against Oakland or Detroit. They won the Calder Cup in 1971-72 and 1975-76.
The 1976-77 season was key to the spread of the AHL into the Atlantic Provinces. The competition for markets had worn the league down to six teams from a high of twelve just three years before. The Providence Reds, league fixtures since 1936, were on their last legs. The Voyageurs, by contrast, were in their glory, winning both the regular season and their third Calder Cup. The construction of a modern rink, the Halifax Metro Centre, was under way. The Nova Scotia Voyageurs were the new model of success in the AHL.
The league put a team into Portland, Maine, a city now no longer the back of beyond, and someplace to stop on the long bus trip to Nova Scotia. Two years later they admitted the New Brunswick Hawks, a joint Black Hawks/Maple Leafs farm team, to play in the new Moncton Coliseum. In 1981 the Fredericton Express, a Quebec/Vancouver farm team, were added. Four of the five teams in the Northern Division were now on the same bus route. The Hawks won the Calder Cup. The next year the Edmonton Oilers bought in to the Maritime experiment, acquiring the Hawks and changing their name to the Alpines.
Someday perhaps the 1980s will be seen as the Golden Age of Canadian hockey. After the consolidation of the NHL and WHA there was a sense that every major Canadian city deserved an NHL team, and it was not a big stretch to conclude that every smaller city should have a minor league team. There were suddenly a lot of franchises in play.
Things began to churn in 1984. Montreal moved the Vees to Sherbrooke, Quebec (where they won another Calder Cup). Edmonton quickly shifted the Alpines to Halifax, renaming them the Nova Scotia Oilers. Calgary put a team in Moncton called the Golden Flames. The Golden Flames folded in 1987 but were immediately replaced by the Moncton Hawks, a Winnipeg affiliate. In 1988 the Nova Scotia Oilers moved to Sydney to become the Cape Breton Oilers. The Express moved into Halifax and became the Citadels. In 1990 the Habs moved their farm team back to the Maritimes as the Fredericton Canadiens.
1991 saw the addition of a team in St. John's, Newfoundland, as the Leafs moved their itinerant farm team (formerly St. Catharines then Newmarket Saints) into Memorial Stadium, the most easterly arena before Europe. There were now five teams based in Atlantic Canada, which the AHL organized into an Atlantic Division, to spare the rest of the league, including the Maine Mariners, the inconvenience of touring the distant northeast more than necessary. Cape Breton won the Calder Cup at the end of the 1992-93 season.
1993-94 was the high-water mark. The second-year Ottawa Senators moved their farm club from New Haven to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Calgary bought the Utica Devils and shifted them to Saint John, New Brunswick, as the Saint John Flames.
But the Nordiques moved the Halifax Citadels to Cornwall, Ontario, and this time no one other AHL team moved into the Metro Centre. The Senators folded their PEI team in 1996, and the Cape Breton Oilers moved to Hamilton to become the Bulldogs. First Portland, then Lowell, Mass., found themselves padding out the Atlantic Division. The Fredericton Canadiens moved to NHL-less Quebec in 1999. In 2000 the Atlantic Division was renamed the Canadian Division, and consisted of Hamilton, Quebec, Saint John and St. John's. The Saint John Flames won the Calder Cup in 2001 but closed down in 2003 and later resurfaced in Omaha. The last remaining Atlantic Canadian AHL team, the St. John's Maple Leafs, moved to Toronto in 2005.
What happened? For one, the unfavorable currency exchange rate lay a beating on Canadian professional teams in the Nineties and the first half of the 2000s, and they passed the pain on to their minor league affiliates. The southward migration of the NHL was reflected in the AHL who, having survived the 1970s crisis, began to think continentally. Houston suited their new success better than Charlottetown. But there was another league with its eye on Atlantic Canada. The major junior LHJMQ began to shift its franchises into the AHL's abandoned rinks, and today has its own Atlantic Division with teams in Halifax, Sydney, Moncton, Saint John, and Charlottetown, plus Bathurst which never had an AHL team. The minor league professional model was replaced by the major junior model, professional on the ownership level but with much cheaper players.
New Genshiken chapter is out. Kio Shimoku is raising interesting gender issues! I really love the composition of that lower panel. The edge of the shadow in the lower panel lines up with the speed line in the upper panel!