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Hockey In Cleveland?

from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post,

The Cleveland Browns, a football team without a title since 1964, dominate the local landscape. The baseball team (Indians) and the basketball team (Cavaliers) jockey for position close behind.

“We’re trying,” Johnson said. “A lot of people say, ‘Who are the Monsters?’ They look at you like you have four heads: ‘Who are you?’ ”

And yet as long as the National Hockey League continues to lock out its players, Johnson and her band of loyal Cleveland fans will bear witness to the best the game has to offer in North America. The Monsters opened their regular season at home against the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday, hosting a roster dotted with current and future NHL regulars.

And that is not for the first time, either, in Cleveland.

Cleveland has a surprisingly rich history in the game. The city was home to nine Calder Cup champions when the Cleveland Barons dominated the AHL around the time of the Second World War, and it has hosted teams from many major pro leagues, including the NHL.

Yes, the NHL.

“I do get that a lot,” retired NHL forward Dennis Maruk said with a laugh. “When people who are not of my age — they’re a lot younger — they’ve never heard of it: ‘What do you mean Cleveland had an NHL team?’ ”


Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, Minor League, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: lake+erie+monsters


Primis's avatar

I remember when the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the old IHL moved to Cleveland.  A small group of Cleveland fans would drive over to Kalamazoo to watch road games, and they were good supporters.  But you would occasionally see the IHL on TV and… the support in Cleveland at that old arena was not good then.

I don’t think Cleveland will ever be much of a hockey town.  Toledo is one (and its proximity to Michigan and metro Detroit doesn’t hurt that), Cleveland just isn’t.  That’s not to say there is none or that it can’t churn out some players, but…. Lake Erie seems to have found the comfortable niche in the AHL, so Cleveland can probably support an AHL level team just fine, but that’s about it.  But when you consider the numbers they pull in for Lake Erie compared to what Toledo draws a level lower, and Toledo has only 1/4 of the population base of metro Cleveland…

Lake Erie has come a long ways though.  In 05-06 Cleveland’s AHL team drew only 3,547/game, which are pretty poor AHL level numbers.  Since coming back as the Monsters they’ve slowly raised their attendance back up each year to have averaged 7,488/game last year (which is a huge comeback) to be among the AHL attendance leaders.

Posted by Primis on 10/13/12 at 12:42 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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