The Brief and Frightening Reign of the Cleveland Barons, Pt. 1

Even by defunct teams standards, the Cleveland Barons are obscure. The California Golden Seals relocated to Cleveland after the 1975-1976 season due to poor attendance. The Barons played in the NHL for two seasons, 1976-1977 and 1977-1978, almost going bankrupt multiple times before merging with the Minnesota North Stars. Then, in 1991, the NHL essentially undid the merger by splitting the North Stars with a portion of the team starting anew in San Jose as the Sharks.

Because of this, there are a limited number of Barons cards. There’s a handful of 1976-77 O-Pee-Chee cards featuring players in Seals uniforms with the Baron’s name and logo on the top, while others still say Seals. By the 1978-79 set, any photos featuring Barons jerseys got the awful airbrush job. So the only true Barons cards appear in the 1977-78 set.

This is Wayne Merrick’s only Barons card. His 1976-77 was one of the many that still featured the Seals name and logo. He scored a career high 32 goals that year splitting time in St. Louis and Oakland. After that, his numbers waned considerably. Though he had a 56 point season in the Barons first season, his plus/minus was a  -21. He played 18 more games for the team in 1977 before getting traded to the Islanders and winning four straight Stanley Cups while his former team dissolved.

Great cartoon.

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