Farewell Bulldogs, Thanks for the Memories

bulldogsIt’s a bittersweet ending. I’ve been attending Hamilton Bulldogs games since the Edmonton Oilers moved their AHL affiliate to Steel City. That was 19 years ago. My family as well as our friends would go as a giant group back then. It’s crazy how fast time actually goes because I swear I can still picture my young self in the stands with an oversized Bulldogs shirt, that I would eventually grow into, and a foam finger.

The Bulldogs would eventually change hands from the Oilers to the Montreal Canadiens. This could not have been laid out any better for a Habs fan like myself. Moving from loving the Hamilton Bulldogs because it was something that my whole family could enjoy to that AND seeing Montreal’s prospects and potential stars. What a perfect combination.

Over the years, whether under Edmonton or Montreal, I have been able to see truckloads of talent come through Hamilton and play for the Bulldogs. These players include: Daniel Cleary, Trevor Daley, Brendan Gallagher, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Shawn Horcoff, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Jacob de la Rose, Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder, P.K. Subban, Jason Ward and Ryan White. These names are just the tip of the iceberg. The Bulldogs have cycled through numerous players over the years and many have gone on to have successful NHL careers or will very soon.

The Bulldogs were only able to win one Calder Cup during their time in Hamilton, however, they did come close on other occasions. In 2007, Ajay Baines would finish off a pass from Maxim Lapierre to put the Bulldogs ahead on the Hershey Bears in Game 5 of the finals. Carey Price made sure that he would not be beaten again to help Hamilton lift the cup, winning the series 4-1.

In 2010, Guy Boucher coached the Bulldogs to a record of 52-17-0-11, the most points the team ever had. David Desharnais finished the year with 78 points, which will remain a club record for a single season. The Bulldogs advanced to the Western Conference finals but were defeated in 7 games by the Texas Stars.

The following year was the last time the Bulldogs would make the post-season. With Randy Cunneyworth managing the bench, the team went¬†44-27-0-9 during the season but fell short in the playoffs, losing in round 3. I was able to take in multiple games during this run, including the longest game 7 in AHL history through the league’s 75 years at that point. The Bulldogs took it to a 3rd overtime period where Dustin Boyd scored in the opening 6 seconds. I will never forget that moment and just thinking about it brings a huge smile to my face.

Fast track to last night, the final game to be played ever. It’s been a long 4 seasons without the playoffs in Hamilton and the team was only¬†eliminated from contention on Friday. When you look at the rosters on paper over the years, they should have done better. However, throw in many injuries and some questionable decisions in personnel and that is a recipe for being on the outside, looking in.

The Hamilton Bulldogs ended on a bright note, regardless of losing the game in a shootout. They had multiple giveaways throughout the night, chances to win merchandise, and you were able to buy a ton of Bulldogs gear, which included autographed as well as game-used items. Additionally, the Bulldogs brought in Jason Ward and Corey Locke, two players that helped shape the franchise over the years, to drop the ceremonial puck. Unfortunately, Ajay Baines was unable to attend but he did make video messages that were displayed on the video board. He even still had the championship hat from 2007 with him. However, Baines was not the only player that fans were able to see during the night. Clips from Plekanec, Price and Subban talking about their time with the Bulldogs were also shown. We also said goodbye to Al Craig who put in many years doing commentary for the club. My favourite part of everything though was near the beginning where they had every headshot of each player that suited up for the team cycle through back to the beginning. A very nice touch.

So, where did the time go? 19 years of my life have passed by. 19 years of AHL hockey in the Hammer have passed by. What I can say at the end of it all is that I am proud that I can call myself a Hamilton Bulldogs fan and that they will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thank you.

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2 Responses to Farewell Bulldogs, Thanks for the Memories

  1. Hi guys! I just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for this blog. This is huge for me, being able to have a follow up to the Bulldogs’ games! I like having the line combos, the injuries status, the healthy scratches, the summary of the game…
    This is AWESOME. I am VERY grateful for all the time you’ve all put in this blog.
    You deserve the biggest THANK YOU possible.
    THANK YOU, again.

    P.S.: What happened to GABRIEL DUMONT after the April 17th game? On the 18th he’s being listed as injured. Can’t find any info of this injury status.

    Alex April 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm Reply
    • He had a walking boot on when he came out to accept an award at the final game.

      Michael Gomez April 21, 2015 at 10:22 pm Reply

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