How a comic book ad accurately predicted where the Maple Leafs would finish their 1976/77 campaign.
How we imagine this magnetic hockey scoreboard was used: depending on newspaper delivery time, a dedicated young fan grabbed the sports section while drinking rich, chocolatey Ovaltine for breakfast, or after school. He flipped to the standings, noted any changes, then rushed over to the fridge to update his beloved board. Once the magnets had been moved, he retired to his room to read his comic books.
Producing a magnet set and standings board for the 1976/77 NHL season would have been a last-minute scramble, thanks to two off-season franchise shifts. While one move had already been resolved when today’s ad went to press (the California Golden Seals became the Cleveland Barons), the fate of the Kansas City Scouts was still “undetermined.” The magnet designer may have had insider information or great prognostication skills, as the Scouts utilized a triangle-shaped logo in their new guise as the Colorado Rockies.
Also accurately predicted was the Maple Leafs’ resting spot for 1976/77: third place in the Adams Division, with a regular-season record just over the .500 mark (33 wins, 32 losses, 15 ties). For the second season in a row, the Leafs fell in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals to the Philadelphia Flyers. (Unlike the previous season, coach Red Kelly didn’t use “pyramid power” to rally his players.) Kelly’s contract ran out following the team’s playoff exit, and his fate was unresolved for two months. That he aggravated old neck and back injuries prior to the playoffs and sat in traction for part of the post-season muddied matters. Ultimately he was not rehired and Roger Neilson assumed coaching duties.