They began the season with a win on October 11, 1969 with a 4-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers with Cesare Maniago in goal getting the shutout. The team alternated wins and losses for their first six games until back to back losses to the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins at home. Minnesota then earned only their second ever win over the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 to close out October at 4-4 after going 1-7-2 against Montreal their first two seasons. November was more challenging for Minnesota, going 3-6-4, which included a tie versus the Canadiens.
December was remarkable for the North Stars, as the team set the tone for the month with a 5-5 tie against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 3rd. Remarkably, they once again beat the Canadiens on December 6th, which was followed by a tie at Boston. They returned home and defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 8-5 for their final win of the month. Having already alternated ties and wins for their first four games of the month, the North Stars then proceeded to alternate ties and losses for their remaining nine games in December. They finished with a 2-4-6 record in their 12 games that month, with every other game resulting in a tie.
With their record at 9-13-10 following their loss on December 27th, Blair stepped aside from his head coaching duties and installed North Stars player Charlie Burns as the North Stars new head coach, who gave up playing when he assumed his new duties.
After his debut on December 30th, a scoreless tie against the Los Angeles Kings, Burns picked up where Blair left off, alternating ties and losses over his first four games. Burns finally got his first win on January 14th, a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
And then it began...
A 1-1 tie against the Oakland Seals came on the road the next night in California. That was followed by a nine game losing streak, the first four coming at home at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. The club hit the road for games in Montreal and Boston, and while they acquitted themselves well losing by only one goal both nights, they were still losses. The losing streak eventually ran out to nine games with defeats at home to Toronto 4-2, in Chicago 7-4 and back at home to Pittsburgh 7-5. The loss to Toronto left Minnesota with a 1-9-2 record for January.
The losing streak ended on February 7th when they outshot Montreal 35-28, but were trailing 1-0 with 3:06 to play when J. P. Parise scored his 14th goal of the season against Phil Myre to salvage a 1-1 tie.
The Penguins extended their record against the North Stars to 5-0-1 on the year when they beat Minnesota 6-3 at home. This was followed by losses at Oakland and home against Chicago, their 12th loss in 13 games.
The North Stars again salvaged a tie late in the game on February 15th when Danny Lawson scored his fourth of the year with 2:08 remaining against the Blues Jacques Plante. Minnesota then held on for a 1-1 tie on February 18th against the Detroit Red Wings despite being outshot 46-26.
Chicago extended the North Stars misery with a 3-2 win on February 19th followed by another loss, this one to the Bruins two nights later at home. The North Stars led after two periods on February 25th at home to the Kings, but eventually settled for yet another tie.
The winless streak reached 20 games on February 28th when they were hammered by the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 to close out February with a 0-7-4 record, leaving them 10-30-18 for the season to date.
On this date in 1970, Burns, with a horrid 1-17-8 record as head coach, took matters into his own hands, inserting himself into the lineup against Toronto, making him the last player/coach in NHL history.
The game, played in Minnesota, Bill Collins got Minnesota on the board at 8:12 of the first period from Parise and Danny O'Shea for the only goal of the first period as the North Stars out shot the Maple Leafs 18-14.
Bill Goldsworthy scored his 27th goal of the season just 55 seconds into the second period with assists from Minnesota native Tommy Williams and Parise for a 2-0 North Stars lead. The trio struck again at 14:42 when Parise's 19th came from Goldsworthy and Williams followed by an unassisted goal by Goldsworthy just 1:58 later at 16:40 to extend the Minnesota lead to 4-0 after two.
Collins scored his second of the game from Danny Grant at the 59 second mark of the third period and then the trio of Parise, Goldsworthy and Williams did it again when Parise scored his second of the night and 20th of the season at 7:33 for a 6-0 North Stars advantage.
At the 9:49 mark, hostilities broke out when Toronto's Terry Clancy and Jim Dorey and Minnesota's Barry Gibbs, Claude Larose and Goldsworthy all got fighting majors, with Goldsworthy's completing his Gordie Howe Hat Trick on the night. The three North Stars also all got misconduct penalties, while Dorey was whistled for a misconduct and a game misconduct.
At 10:50, Collins completed his hat trick with an unassisted goal against Maple Leafs goaltender Bruce Gamble and Lawson finished the scoring with his 6th goal of the season from Ray Cullen and Leo Boivin at 13:12 for a final score of 8-0 to end the North Stars record winless streak at 20 games.
Despite the lopsided score, Toronto actually out shot Minnesota 41-40 with Maniago getting the shutout for the North Stars.
The North Stars finished the rest of the schedule 8-5-4 once their record 20 game winless streak ended with Burns now acting as a player/coach for the remainder of the schedule. Despite their dismal January and February, the North Stars actually qualified for the playoffs, assisted by the fact the NHL placed all six of the new expansion teams into their own West Division when the league expanded in 1967-68.
St. Louis had a fine 37-27-12 record for 86 points to win in a romp, while Pittsburgh finished with a 26-38-12 record for 64 points followed by the North Stars at 19-35-22 for 60 points, while Oakland at 58 points won a tiebreaker with Philadelphia for the final playoff spot thanks to 22 wins versus the Flyers 17 with the Kings in last at a lowly 38 points.
Such was the difference in experience and talent in the established East Division that all four teams that made the playoffs had over 90 points, Chicago (99), Boston (99), Detroit (95) and the New York Rangers (92), from pummeling the expansion teams in the West. Of the teams in the East that missed the playoffs, Montreal would have won the West Division(!) with 92 points, while Toronto's 71 would have been good for second behind St. Louis, the only Original 6 team with less points than a Second 6 team.
The North Stars were paired with the Blues in the first round of the playoffs and each team won two games at home before the Blues closed out Minnesota with wins in St. Louis (6-3) and back in Bloomington (4-2).
Minnesota was led in scoring that season by Parise with 24 goals and 48 assist for 72 points, followed by Williams (15G, 52A) at 67 and Goldsworthy's team leading 36 goals and 29 assists for 65 points. Other 20 goal scorers for Minnesota that season were Collins and Grant with 29 and Larose with 24.
Maniago did the bulk of the work in goal for the North Stars, playing in 50 games, with Fern Rivard (14 games), Gump Worsley (8), Ken Broderick (7) and Gilles Gilbert (1) all seeing time in goal.
Burns, a center, would play 11 NHL seasons for Detroit, Boston, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Minnesota and was known as an excellent skater and playmaker who was defensively responsible. After his time in Boston, he would play four seasons in the minor Western Hockey League before returning to the NHL when the league expanded in 1967, doubling the amount of available jobs overnight. His final NHL totals were 749 games played with 106 goals and 198 assists for 304 points.
Burns did not return to the bench for the North Stars 1970-71 season, as the team hired Jack Gordon as their next head coach. Burns would play three more seasons for Minnesota and one final one for the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, again while acting as a player/coach.
The following season, now fully retired as a player, he would return to the North Stars as head coach again when he replaced Gordon (who then concentrated solely on his General Manger duties) for the final 42 games of the season, finishing with a 12-28-2 record. Gordon then hired Ted Harris as head coach for the 1975-76 season. Burns had one final season of coaching, leading the Sioux City Musketeers of the junior USHL in 1977-78.
Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Minnesota North Stars Charlie Burns jersey as worn by Burns during his final NHL season.
The North Stars wore this style of home jersey for their inaugural season of 1967-68 and again in 1968-69. They then for Burns' first three seasons with Minnesota, the club did away with the green sleeve ends. The green sleeves then returned for three seasons, starting with Burns' final season in the NHL. The team then changed their jerseys to a new template starting in 1975-76, ending this style's run after eight seasons.
Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Minnesota North Stars J. P. Parise jersey as worn by Parise the season he led the North Stars in scoring. The North Stars debuted in 1967-68 with similar jerseys, only without white shoulders. The white shoulder yoke was added for their second season of 1968-69 and was used through the 1974-75 season.