History Overview

Prior to the Blades arrival in KC they were the former franchise of Toledo, Ohio (Goaldiggers, 1974-86). In a city poll Jazz was the most popular entry for a nickname, but owners (Russ and Diane Parker) chose another entry, Blades. "First of all, we wanted a name with strong hockey connotations. This clearly identifies us as a hockey club." Olathe resident Kyle Horn was the winner of the "Name the Team" contest, with his entry of Blades.
The same year the Blades began play in the International Hockey League, the San Diego Gulls and Albany Choppers started up. The Choppers didn't finish the season. The Gulls now play in the West Coast Hockey League.

One main-stay in the eleven-year existence of the Kansas City Blades franchise was Vice-President and General Manager Doug Soetaert. Soetaert served as head coach and director of hockey operations in the team's first season in Kansas City. The next season he was named General Manager. He was GM for ten years and held the position of Vice-President for five years. In 1991-92, the league chose Soetaert as Executive of the Year. In 1999, he was runner-up for the General Manager of the Year. In his eleven years at the Blades helm, the team qualified for the playoffs in seven seasons, with a 38-32 record in the post season, winning 8 of 14 playoff series. The Blades all-time regular season record is 437-378-85.

In 1991, the Blades started a five-year affiliation with the NHL's San Jose Sharks. Many top prospects of the Sharks played for the Blades. Names such as Arturs Irbe, Sandis Ozolinsh, Viktor Kozlov, Jeff Odgers, Michal Sykora, Shean Donovan, and Andrei Nazarov were just a few of the future NHLers that the Sharks sent the Blades way.

The affiliation with San Jose was fruitful, as it allowed the Blades to be a power-house. Under the leadership of Head Coach Kevin Constantine, the Blades blew through the regular season with a franchise best 56-22-4 record, 116 points. This was the best record in professional hockey and the largest regular season turn around. They showed a 62 point improvement over the 1990-91 season. The Blades went through the playoffs with a 12-3 record and won the league's Turner Cup by sweeping the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
In the 1992-93 season, the Blades had the league's winningest goalie for the season. Wade Flaherty won 34 games. The Blades weren't able to repeat as Champions, but they did go far through the playoffs.
The Blades were given another shot at the cup, although no one thought the 1994-95 team could do it. Under the leadership of Head Coach Jim Wiley, the Blades limped to a 35-40-6 record, 76 points. The team managed to make the playoffs despite having missed the year before with a 40-31-10, 90 points. The league had expanded the number of teams in the playoffs. The Blades were fortunate to benefit from a rule that would allow them to play in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs, because they finished with a higher point total than the last place Eastern team. In the 1995 Turner Cup playoffs the Blades pulled off 3 of the top ten upsets in IHL history to become Eastern Conference Champions. The biggest upset in league history belonged to the Blades after beating the Peoria Riverman in 5 games in the 1995 Turner Cup playoffs. The Blades went on to the finals to lose to the Denver Grizzlies 4 games to none.

In March 1996, the Blades were purchased by Dan and Pam DeVos of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mr. DeVos was co-owner of the Grand Rapids Griffins (IHL) with David Van Andel.
In 1996, the Sharks cut ties with the Blades. They moved their affiliation to a new American Hockey League team in Lexington, Kentucky; the Thoroughblades. The Blades set up shop as an independent team from 1996-2000. In that time the team received many prospects from other NHL teams on-loan. Some of those include former Ottawa Senators goaltender Patrick Lalime and former Washington Capitals forward Michal Pivonka.

In July 1997, Kansas City saw long-time Blades captain Gary Emmons retire. Soon after Emmons announced his retirement, the Blades named him Director of Player Personnel. On August 21, 1998, Emmons was named Assistant Coach, a position he held for two seasons. He is the only Blades player to have his number retired. On February 21, 1998, the Kansas City Blades raised his number 15 to the rafters of Kemper Arena in a touching ceremony that featured video footage of his career and special messages from old pals, including former Blades and Sharks head coach Kevin Constantine (then Pittsburgh Penguins head coach).

The 1998 season would be heralded as the season that would "change the face of Kansas City hockey". It did, on July 9th, the Kansas City Blades introduced a new logo that reminded many of the New York Rangers logo. That season also saw the return of Kansas City favorite Dody Wood.
During the 1999-2000 season, the Tenth Anniversary of the team was celebrated by naming a Tenth-Anniversary Team. Forwards Pat Ferschweiler, Dody Wood, and Gary Emmons, Defensemen Mike Colman and Claudio Scremin, Goaltender Wade Flaherty, and Coach Kevin Constantine were voted on to the team by the fans.
The celebrating was marred, though. Mr. DeVos threatened to move the team to Oklahoma City. After a show of solidarity by KC fans at a city council meeting and Oklahoma City's distaste for the IHL and the Blades (OKC wanted to keep their Central Hockey League team), DeVos signed a two-year lease agreement for Kemper Arena and the team stayed.

For the 2000-2001 season, the Blades signed a two-year affiliation agreement deal with the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL. Many of the Blades players saw some time with the NHL parent club. Players such as Steve Kariya, Bryan Allen, Brent Sopel, Josh Holden, Jarkko Ruutu, Artem Chubarov and Harold Druken played for both the Blades and the Canucks in the 2000-2001 season.

On June 4, 2001, after several weeks of speculation, the International Hockey League folded. The last chance for the Kansas City Blades was the San Jose Sharks of the NHL relocating their newly purchased AHL franchise in Kansas City. This time, the Blades couldn't be saved. The team official folded on June 4th after 11 years in Kansas City. The Blades hold the record as the longest running franchise in Kansas City's hockey history.

Last updated June 23, 2002