In 1974, the NHL ended its significant expansion period by adding teams in Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, D.C. Kansas City was awarded a franchise on June 8, 1972, and Kemper Arena was constructed to host the team's home games. Kansas City had been the home of several minor league ice hockey teams through the years. The Scouts shared Kemper Arena with the Kansas City Kings basketball franchise from the National Basketball Association. The arrival of the Scouts and Washington Capitals resulted in the NHL creating four divisions, and the Scouts were placed in the Smythe Division.
The Kansas City franchise was to be called the Kansas City Mohawks, since the Kansas City metropolitan area includes portions of Missouri and Kansas. The name would have combined Missouri's postal abbreviation (MO) and the Kansas nickname of Jayhawkers. However, the Chicago Black Hawks objected because Mohawks sounded too much like Black Hawks. The team then held a contest for people to name the new team. The name Scouts was chosen, named after The Scout which is located in Penn Valley Park and overlooks downtown. The iconic statue was featured on the team's logo.
On October 9, 1974, the Scouts took the ice for the first time, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, and lost 6–2 to the Maple Leafs. To allow construction to be completed on Kemper Arena, the Scouts played their first eight games on the road. In those eight games, the Scouts lost seven and tied one. The Scouts made their home debut on November 2, losing to the Black Hawks 4–3. The following day the team's first victory came, against the Washington Capitals, by a score of 5–4, in Washington.
Like many other expansion teams, the Scouts performed poorly, garnering only 41 points with a record of 15-54-11 in their inaugural season, though this would be the better result of their two-season history.
The team's second season started out with some promise. Near the midway point of the season, the team was competing for a playoff spot, with a 3–1 win over the California Golden Seals on December 28 placing them just one point behind the St. Louis Blues and a playoff position in the weak Smythe Division. However, the Scouts went into free fall for their remaining 44 games. After going winless from December 30 to February 4 (0-14-2), they finally won a game, against the Capitals on February 7, before going 0-21-6 for the rest of the season. The Scouts' second half crash left them with a season result of 12–56–12 and 36 points—still the worst record in the Scouts/Rockies/Devils franchise's history.
In their two seasons, the Scouts went through three coaches–Bep Guidolin, Sid Abel (three-game interim stint), and Eddie Bush. The team had two captains, Simon Nolet and Guy Charron. Steve Durbano led the league in penalty minutes during the 1975–76 season. The franchise failed to make the playoffs in either season in Kansas City and won only 27 of 160 games.
With the 1972 startup of the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) resulting in a combined 32 teams between the NHL and the WHA, the talent available to stock the new teams in Kansas City and Washington was stretched thin. In their first season, the Capitals would set an NHL record for futility, losing 67 of 80 games, and only winning one on the road. The Scouts fared only marginally better (losing 56 games), and the 1974 NHL expansion was widely seen as having been a mistake.
The Scouts suffered from inflated player costs, undercapitalized ownership, an economic downturn in the Midwest, poor performance on the ice and poor attendance. The Scouts drew an average of just 8,218 fans during their two years in 17,000-seat Kemper Arena (at a time when the league average was approximately 13,000). The team's group of 37 owners, buried in debt, mounted a season-ticket drive to raise more revenue. However, when only 2,000 people bought tickets, they concluded that the Scouts were not a viable venture and opted to sell. While the Capitals were far worse on the ice, their owner, Abe Pollin, had the financing and the patience to absorb the typical struggles of an expansion team.
After just two seasons, the Scouts franchise was sold to a group headed by Jack Vickers, who moved the team to Denver and renamed it the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies would play six NHL seasons in Denver, relocating to the East Coast to become the New Jersey Devils following the 1982 season. The last active Scouts player in the NHL was Wilf Paiement, who retired in 1988. Scouts draft pick Bob Bourne also retired after that season, but was traded to the New York Islanders before ever playing with the team.
The Scouts and the California Golden Seals, who moved to become the Cleveland Barons the same year, were the first NHL teams to relocate since the 1935 season.
Following the departure of the Scouts, Kansas City became a minor league hockey town again, most notably with the Kansas City Blades, which operated from 1990–2001 in the International Hockey League. Within a few years of the Blades' departure, plans started for what is now the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, which has led city officials to actively pursue a return to the NHL, speaking with several teams about possible relocation.
To this day, the Devils make almost no mention of their past as the Scouts or Rockies; the Devils' media guide and the history sections of the Devils' website do not acknowledge any captains, coaches or general managers prior to the move to New Jersey. However, inside of the Prudential Center, the Devils home rink, there is a mural on the second floor that shows the former arenas of the Rockies and Scouts, along with Devils' original (1982–2007) New Jersey home, the Brendan Byrne Arena.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutesSimon Nolet, 1974–76
Guy Charron, 1976
1974: Wilf Paiement (2nd overall)
1975: Barry Dean (2nd overall)