Posted: Thursday July 20, 2006 1:10PM; Updated: Thursday July 20, 2006 3:00PM
Rick Bowness had no answers for what ailed his hapless Ottawa Senators during their first campaign, in 1992-93.
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Starting with the initial expansion for the 1967-68 season, when the NHL doubled its membership from six to 12 teams, the league has awarded 20 new franchises. They came in at various times and under assorted circumstances. Most experienced the typical struggles that accompany a fledgling outfit and some were downright horrid. On the flip side, some teams fared pretty well in their debut seasons.
The group of six that formed the new West Division in '67-68 largely beat up on one another resulting in none posting a winning record, but five of them finished no worse than a respectable seven games under .500. Future expansion teams were eased in one or two at a time, though nothing was easy for the 1974-75 Capitals, who are in the record book for their awesome inability to win.
Of course, management always did its part to help ease the grind -- or complicate the process as Ottawa GM Mel Bridgman did in 1992. His malfeasance during the Expansion Draft set the tone as the Senators experienced one of the 10 worst seasons among expansion clubs.
The season started decently as the Caps posted a win and a tie in their third and fourth games. Problem was, that two-game unbeaten streak was a season high and their eight wins are the fewest in a minimum of 70 games schedule. Three men piloted the bench, including GM Milt Schmidt, who followed Jimmy Anderson (4-45-5) and Red Sullivan (2-16). Netminders Ron Low (5.45 GAA) and Michel Belhumeur (0-24-3) were rendered helpless by hapless defenseman such as No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Joly, whowas a minus-65 in 44 games. Tommy Williams led the team with 22 goals and 58 points.
Looking bad from the start, Mel Bridgman attempted to select two players in the Expansion Draft who were not eligible. Those who were, and who actually suited up for coach Rick Bowness during that maiden season contributed to a record 40 road losses. The only game away from the Civic Centre that did not wind up in the "L" column was a late-season 5-3 verdict on Long Island. Peter Sidorkiewicz (8-46-3, 4.43) got the bulk of the work in goal while defenseman Norm Maciver led the team in scoring, with 63 points. Sylvain Turgeon had 25 goals.
3. 1991-92 San Jose Sharks Record: 17-58-5, 39 points (.244)
San Jose's expansion season was a major success compared to the record 71 losses the toothless Sharks would put on the board in Year 2. Only two players scored as many as 40 points, with top pick Pat Falloon (25-34-59) and veteran Brian Mullen (18-28-46) leading the way. Coach Kevin Constantine used five goalies and, all things considered, Jeff Hackett fared pretty well (11-27-1, 3.84), but not Jarmo Myllys (3-18-1, 5.02). Current GM Doug Wilson, acquired in a pre-season trade from Chicago, was the team's first All-Star representative.