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Posted: February 21st, 2013 @ 9:49am
Today's installment in a daily series that recalls the story of the 1962-63 Kingston Frontenacs, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their Eastern Professional Hockey League championship season:
Fifty years ago today, Thursday, February 21, 1963
On the ice the Kingston Frontenacs are in the thick of the fight for first place but you'd never know it from the people paying to attend games, general manager-coach Wren Blair bemoaned to the Kingston Whig-Standard. Blair was displeased that only 3,000 people attended back-to-back home games earlier this month, including the first Sunday hockey game ever played in the city.
"We used to get 3,000 for one game," he declared.
"However bad our team was last weekend (in a pair of lopsided losses) they'd have to be pretty bad to match the apathy of the Kingston hockey public," Blair told the newspaper. "There was no football game being played at Queen's. There was no hockey game on TV. There was no NFL game being televised.
"I'm not trying to tell the public that they have to come to the hockey games but I don't want them complaining to me if the Boston Bruins decide to pull the club out of Kingston and locate elsewhere."
Frontenacs tickets at the time ranged from $1.50 to $2 for adults, $1 for students and 50 cents for tickets in the "children's section."
Meanwhile, Frank Selke, managing director of the Montreal Canadiens, said that if attendance doesn't pick up in the league, Montreal's Hull-Ottawa farm team will be dropped.
"It's obvious if the people in Canada don't want the EPHL, we'll have to discontinue it," Selke said. "We want to stay in Hull-Ottawa as long as we can - but if the fans at Ottawa don't smarten up we'll have to move out of there."
Selke noted that the New York Rangers lost $130,000 in two years supporting the Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers, before shifting their sponsorship to the Sudbury Wolves this year.
While EPHL teams struggled at the box office the grass was starting to look pretty green in the American midwest. In a pair of interlocking games at International Hockey League cities in February, the Frontenacs drew a season-best 5,381 to their game in Omaha, and 3,130 to their game in Minneapolis.
* Ernie Wakely will be back in goal for Hull-Ottawa tomorrow night when the Canadiens play St. Louis. Wakely is back from Montreal, where he had been subbing for Jacques Plante while Cesare Maniago was with Hull-Ottawa. Maniago has since been assigned to Quebec of the American Hockey League. It has been reported that Wakely has abandoned his mask.
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