1978 NHL Dispersal Draft
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|1978 NHL Dispersal Draft|
|Merging teams||Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars|
In June 1978, the National Hockey League allowed the Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars to merge. The North Stars were allowed to keep some of the players from each team and the rest of the players went into the 1978 NHL Dispersal Draft.
After the 1977–78 NHL season, Barons owners Gordon and George Gund III tried to buy the Richfield Coliseum, but failed. Meanwhile, fan interest in the North Stars was in decline as the team had missed the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons, and the league feared that the franchise was also on the verge of folding. On June 14, 1978, the league, in an unprecedented arrangement, granted approval for the Barons to merge with the North Stars, under the Gunds' ownership.
The merged team would continue to be known as the Minnesota North Stars, but assume the Barons' place in the Adams Division. The recently retired Lou Nanne was named general manager, and a number of the Barons players – notably goaltender Gilles Meloche and forwards Al MacAdam and Mike Fidler – bolstered the Minnesota lineup. Furthermore, Minnesota had drafted Bobby Smith, who would go on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie that year, and Steve Payne, who himself would go on to record 42 goals in his second campaign in 1979–80.
A stay-at-home defenceman who was selected by the California Golden Seals in the 1975 NHL Draft, Greg Smith followed the franchise when it relocated to Cleveland in 1976, and when it folded in 1978 and merged with the Minnesota North Stars, where his rights were protected by the North Stars in the 1978 Cleveland-Minnesota Dispersal Draft. He played for Minnesota for three seasons, and his solid defensive play would help guide them to the finals in 1981.
Minnesota North Stars GM Lou Nanne and Cleveland Barons GM Harry Howell worked together to pick the protected players. They protected an equal number of players from each team. From the North Stars they chose to retain Per-Olov Brasar, Brad Maxwell, Bryan Maxwell, Glen Sharpley, Tim Young and goalie Pete LoPresti. From the Barons they protected Mike Fidler, Rick Hampton, Al MacAdam, Dennis Maruk, Greg Smith and goalie Gilles Meloche. After the Capitals and Blues had made their selections the North Stars would be able to add another player to their protected list (Ron Zanussi), and again after the Canucks and Penguins had made their choices (Bob Stewart).
On 15 June 1978, just before the Amateur Draft, the five poorest teams were allowed to make one pick from the unprotected Minnesota and Cleveland players. The Washington Capitals forfeited their pick but were allowed an extra first round pick in the Amateur Draft. The St. Louis Blues picked Mike Crombeen (Cleveland), and the Vancouver Canucks picked Randy Holt (Cleveland). Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies declined to select a player.
|2.||St. Louis Blues||Mike Crombeen||Cleveland|
|3.||Vancouver Canucks||Randy Holt||Cleveland|
Thirteen years later, in 1991, the merger would effectively be undone as the Gunds assumed ownership of the expansion San Jose Sharks (occupying the same market as the Seals did prior to their move to Cleveland) and the two teams split the players on the North Stars at the time in a Dispersal Draft, followed by an Expansion Draft. The North Stars would move to Dallas as the Dallas Stars in 1993. (Incidentally, the Barons name would come full circle: the Sharks formed their own minor-league team in Cleveland, also named the Cleveland Barons, from 2001 to 2006.)
The Barons remain the last franchise in the four major North American sports leagues to cease operations, and as a result the NHL fielded only 17 teams during the 1978–79 season. The NHL would not return to Ohio for 22 years, when the Columbus Blue Jackets began operations in the fall of 2000.