The NHL doubled in size on Feb. 9, 1966, when owners of the original six teams approved an expansion West Division. The new franchises were awarded to Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Oakland.

The entry fee was $2 million, plus $50,000 per player to select 20 players in the expansion draft in June 1967. The Minnesota owners also went to work rushing to build Met Center, a $6.5 million arena in the parking lot to the north of Met Stadium.

Mike Lamey revealed in the Minneapolis Star that General Manager Wren Blair and the North Stars had spent $100,000 scouting talent over the winter. And when doing so, Blair and five of his scouts — including Walter Bush, the team president — were taking newfangled tape recorders into arenas.

Blair and his staff had access to "over 100 tapes" evaluating players as they readied for the expansion draft. Cutting edge, 1967-style.

The North Stars opened with a 2-2 tie in St. Louis on Oct. 11, with Bill Masterton scoring the franchise's first goal. Three months later, he would die on the ice at Met Center, after hitting the back of his head on the ice. The NHL has a Masterton Memorial Trophy that honors perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.

The North Stars were 0-2-2 when they arrived for the home opener Oct. 21. The scoreboard still was being installed and other details being completed earlier that Saturday. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune also was two articles into an eight-part series on "the best ways to watch the National Hockey League," written by newly appointed writer Dwayne Netland. The intricacies of "offsides" and "icing" were being explained to the hockey rubes in a Minnesota readership.

The North Stars won that night 3-1, with Ray Cullen getting a tiebreaking goal early in the third period. The crowd of 12,951 was the largest of six home openers for the expansion teams.

Seven months later in St. Louis, Ron Shock scored at 2:50 of the second overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory over the North Stars in the seventh game of the West Division finals.

Five of those games were played in St. Louis, because of a previously scheduled event at Met Center. This allowed the North Stars to immediately join the club of Minnesota sports teams that never catch a break … right, fans?

Patrick Reusse