The California Seals, later to become the Oakland Seals and then the California Golden Seals, entered the National Hockey League along with the Los Angeles Kings and four other teams in the expansion of 1967. They played their games in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, which was located in the Coliseum industrial area.

It is a circular building built with a steel frame with glass surrounding the entire structure. The building was built in 1966 at a cost of $25 million, which would be $179 million in 2012 dollars. It was elevated so that when you entered the building you were about 50 rows up looking down at the ice surface. The building still stands, and the interior was completely rebuilt in 1996-97 at a cost of $121 million, but the external walls, roof and foundation remained intact. It is now known as Oracle Arena.

The Kings first game in the arena was on October 18, 1967, and it ended in a 2-2 tie. What I remember most about playing the Seals is that many of our games would be on a Sunday afternoon around 2 p.m. The Kings would usually have a home game the night before and Western Airlines would hold their midnight flight until the Kings could get to LAX for the short flight to Oakland. The Kings would head right back home after the Sunday game and be back in L.A. by 7 p.m. with a road trip out of the way. Some of you may remember a group that called themselves “The White Hats,” and I believe most of them were Western Airlines employees. They would sit at one end of the Forum, then they would march around the inner concourse, leading cheers for the Kings, while wearing a variety of white hats. Some of them would always join us on the flight to Oakland.

Something else that stood out in Oakland was the Seals mascot called “Crazy George.” He looked a little crazy, and would roam the arena with a small drum that he would incessantly pound on to inspire the crowd and intimidate the opposing players. Many times he would almost hang over the glass and players would be startled if they weren’t aware that he was right over their shoulder.

Hockey was a tough sell in the Bay Area in those years, and in their first season, the Seals won only 15 of 74 games and finished last in the Western Division. They were the lowest scoring team in the NHL with only 153 goals, and the crowds were usually small. In fact, only 3,419 fans showed up for the Kings first game in the arena.

In 1969, the Kings and Seals met in the opening round of the playoffs with the Kings winning the seven-game series, 4-to-3. That was the only time the teams met each other in the playoffs. My first broadcast in the arena was on January 2, 1974, when the Seals beat the Kings, 5-2, in front of a paltry crowd of 2,860.

The Seals had several owners, the most famous of whom was Charles O. Finley, the flamboyant owner of baseball’s Oakland Athletics. One of his marketing gimmicks was to change the team’s colors to Kelly Green and California Gold, and have the team wear white skates, which the players hated. At the end of the 1970 season, the Seals traded their number one pick in the first round of the 1971 draft to Montreal. Due to the Seals finishing last in the NHL in 1970-71, Montreal had the number one pick and took future Hall of Famer, Guy LaFleur, so the deal was one of the most lopsided in NHL history.

After being frustrated by several losing seasons, Finley tried to sell the team but had no takers, so the NHL took over the team in February 1974, purchasing it from Finley for $6.5 million. In July of 1976, the NHL approved a relocation of the team to Cleveland, where they became the Barons. Thus, the Kings had lost their closest opponent geographically. Attendance was worse in Cleveland than it had been in Oakland, and after two years of losses, the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars.

The last Seals player to be active in any league was former King Charlie Simmer, who played with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League until 1992.

The arena in Oakland still stands and is the current home of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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