World Hockey Association

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World Hockey Association
WHA Logo.svg
Sport Ice hockey
FoundedSeptember 13, 1971
CeasedJune 22, 1979
CountriesUnited States
Canada
Most titles Winnipeg Jets (3)

The World Hockey Association (French : Association mondiale de hockey) was a professional ice hockey major league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979. It was the first major league to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL) since the collapse of the Western Hockey League in 1926. Although the WHA was not the first league since that time to attempt to challenge the NHL's supremacy, it was by far the most successful in the modern era.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Ice hockey team sport played on ice using sticks, skates, and a puck

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually consisting of six players each: one goaltender, and five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team.

The 1972–73 WHA season was the first season of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Twelve teams played 78 games each. The league was officially incorporated in June of 1971 by Garry L. Davidson and Dennis A. Murphy and promised to ice twelve teams in various markets around Canada and the United States. The league championship trophy, the Avco World Trophy, was donated by AVCO Financial Services Corporation along with $500,000. The New England Whalers won the first Avco World Trophy.

Contents

The WHA tried to capitalize on the lack of hockey teams in a number of major American cities and mid-level Canadian cities, and also hoped to attract the best players by paying more than NHL owners would. The WHA successfully challenged the NHL's reserve clause, which bound players to their NHL teams even without a valid contract, allowing players in both leagues greater freedom of movement. Sixty-seven players jumped from the NHL to the WHA in the first year, led by star forward Bobby Hull, whose ten-year, $2.75 million contract was a record at the time. The WHA also took the initiative to sign European players.

The reserve clause, in North American professional sports, was part of a player contract which stated the rights to players were retained by the team upon the contract's expiration. Players under these contracts were not free to enter into another contract with another team. Once signed to a contract, players could, at the team's whim, be reassigned, traded, sold, or released.

Bobby Hull Canadian ice hockey player

Robert Marvin Hull, OC is a Canadian former ice hockey player who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. His blonde hair, legendary skating speed, end-to-end rushes, and ability to shoot the puck at very high velocity together earned him the name "The Golden Jet". His talents were such that one or two opposing players were often assigned just to shadow him—a tribute to his explosiveness.

The WHA had an acrimonious relationship with the NHL, resulting in numerous legal battles, as well as competition for control of players and markets. In spite of this, merger talks began almost immediately, as the WHA was constantly unstable, with franchises occasionally relocating or folding in the middle of the season. NHL owners voted down a 1977 plan to merge six WHA teams (the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Cincinnati Stingers, Houston Aeros, and Winnipeg Jets) into the NHL before a 1979 merger was approved. [1]

Edmonton Oilers Hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Quebec Nordiques Former hockey team of the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association

The Quebec Nordiques were a professional ice hockey team based in Quebec City, Quebec. The Nordiques played in the World Hockey Association (1972–1979) and the National Hockey League (1979–1995). The franchise was relocated to Denver, Colorado in May 1995 and renamed the Colorado Avalanche.

Cincinnati Stingers ice hockey team

The Cincinnati Stingers were an ice hockey team based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that played in the World Hockey Association from 1975 to 1979 and in the Central Hockey League during the 1979–80 season. Their home arena was Riverfront Coliseum, and they were the only major-league hockey team ever to play in Cincinnati.

As a result, the WHA ceased operations, and four teams joined the NHL for the 1979–80 season: the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets. Of these four teams, two of the three Canadian teams — the Nordiques and Jets — eventually moved south to Denver and Phoenix, respectively, although the NHL would return to Winnipeg with the 2011 relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers, who would rename themselves the Winnipeg Jets upon their relocation. The Whalers later moved from Hartford to Raleigh, North Carolina. The Oilers are the only WHA merger team to retain both their original name and city, although, since 2011, there is an NHL team known as the Winnipeg Jets, but it is unrelated to the original, which remains in the NHL today as the Arizona Coyotes.

The 1979–80 NHL season was the 63rd season of the National Hockey League. This season saw the addition of four teams from the disbanded World Hockey Association as expansion franchises. The Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New England Whalers, and Quebec Nordiques joined the NHL, bringing the total to 21 teams. The other two WHA teams were paid to disband.

Colorado Avalanche Hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Avalanche are the only team in their division not based in the Central Time Zone; the team is situated in the Mountain Time Zone. Their home arena is Pepsi Center. Their general manager is Joe Sakic.

Arizona Coyotes Hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Arizona Coyotes are a professional ice hockey team based in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Coyotes first played at America West Arena in downtown Phoenix, before moving to Glendale's Gila River Arena in 2003. In 2021, the Coyotes are scheduled to return to the Central Division when an expansion team in Seattle joins the league.

The final WHA game was played on May 20, 1979, as the Jets defeated the Oilers to win their third Avco World Trophy.

Avco World Trophy

The Avco World Trophy, also known as the Avco Cup, is the playoff championship trophy of the defunct World Hockey Association (1972–1979). The trophy's naming rights were sold to the former Avco Corporation, a defense contractor who bought the rights to advertise their consumer finance division. The trophy was mocked by some for its corporate sponsorship and never developed anything approaching the significance and sentiment of the Stanley Cup, its National Hockey League rival. Still, the cup's design was often seen as creative in that it involved a freely-floating etched crystal globe embedded in the "stem" of the cup. The cup was designed by Frank Bonnerkopf of Boise, Idaho.

History

Founding

The World Hockey Association was founded in 1971 by American promoters Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson. The pair had previously been the founder and first president of the American Basketball Association, respectively. [2] They quickly recruited Bill Hunter, president of the junior Western Canada Hockey League. [3] Hunter and Murphy traveled across North America recruiting franchise owners, and by September 1971, had announced that the league would begin in 1972 with ten teams, each having paid $25,000 for their franchise. [4]

Gary L. Davidson is an American lawyer and businessman who is based in Orange County, California.

William Dickenson Hunter, CM was a Canadian ice hockey player, general manager and coach. Hunter was involved in hockey, Canadian football, baseball, softball and curling, but he is best known for founding the Western Hockey League, being a key player in the upstart World Hockey Association and for his efforts to bring professional hockey to previously overlooked Western Canadian cities, especially in Edmonton and (unsuccessfully) in Saskatoon.

Western Hockey League Sports league

The Western Hockey League (WHL) is a major junior ice hockey league based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States. The WHL is one of three leagues that constitutes the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) as the highest level of junior hockey in Canada. Teams play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with the winner moving on to play for the Memorial Cup, Canada's national junior championship. WHL teams have won the Memorial Cup 19 times since the league became eligible to compete for the trophy. Many players have been drafted from WHL teams, and have found success at various levels of professional hockey, including the National Hockey League (NHL).

The average NHL salary in 1972 was $25,000, the lowest of the four major sports, while players were bound by the reserve clause, a clause in every player's contract that automatically extended a player's contract by one year when it expired, tying them to their team for the life of their career. [5] In October 1972, the WHA announced that it would not use the reserve clause, stating that "The reserve clause won't stand up to the scrutiny of ... players, players associations, the United States Congress, the public and the Supreme Court". [6] The WHA also promised much higher salaries than the NHL offered, and by the time the league began play, it had lured 67 former NHL players to its league, including Bernie Parent, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, J. C. Tremblay and Ted Green. [7] The biggest name signed was former Chicago Black Hawks star Bobby Hull, who agreed to a 10-year, $2.7 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets, the largest in hockey history at the time, and one that lent the league instant credibility. [8]

The NHL tried to block several of the defections. The Boston Bruins attempted to restrain Sanderson and Cheevers from joining the WHA, though a United States federal court refused to prohibit the signings. The Black Hawks were successful in having a restraining order filed against Hull and the Jets pending the outcome of legal action the Black Hawks were taking against the WHA. The new league was eager for the court action, intending to challenge the legality of the reserve clause. [9] In November 1972, judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania placed an injunction against the NHL, preventing it from enforcing the reserve clause and freeing all players who had restraining orders against them, including Hull, to play with their WHA clubs. The decision effectively ended the NHL's monopoly on major league professional hockey talent. [10]

Teams

In November 1971, twelve teams were formally announced. They included teams from cities without NHL teams such as the Miami Screaming Eagles, as well as teams in cities where the league's promoters believed there was room for more than one team, such as the Los Angeles Aces, Chicago Cougars, and New York Raiders. Two of the original twelve teams moved before the first season started: the Dayton Arrows became the Houston Aeros and the San Francisco Sharks became the Quebec Nordiques. The Los Angeles franchise then took the nickname Sharks to replace Aces. The Calgary Broncos and the Screaming Eagles folded outright, replaced by the Philadelphia Blazers and the Cleveland Crusaders.

Although the league had many players under contract by June 1972, including a few NHL stars such as Bernie Parent, many of them were career minor league and college players. The new league was not considered much of a threat, until Bobby Hull, arguably the NHL's top forward at the time, jumped to the new league. Hull had not been thought to be seriously considering signing with the WHA even though he was in contentious salary negotiations with the Chicago Black Hawks, and when he told reporters that he would only move to the WHA "for a million dollars", it was both intended by Hull and taken by his audience to be a joke since a million dollars at that time was considered to be a ridiculous amount of money for a hockey player. Nevertheless, the Winnipeg Jets offered Hull a five-year, one million dollar contract with a one million dollar signing bonus. Hull accepted the Jets' offer, sealing the deal in an elaborate signing ceremony at Portage and Main. Hull's move to the upstart league attracted a few other top stars such as Cheevers, Sanderson, and Tremblay.

The WHA officially made its debut on October 11, 1972, in the Ottawa Civic Centre, when the Alberta Oilers defeated the Ottawa Nationals 7-4. Although the quality of hockey was predictably below that of the NHL, the WHA had indeed made stars out of many players that had little or no playing time in the NHL.

The New England Whalers eventually won the WHA's inaugural championship, later renamed the Avco World Trophy when the Avco Financial Services Corporation became its main sponsor. However, the trophy had not yet been completed, and the Whalers skated their divisional championship trophy around the ice surface, much to the embarrassment of the WHA office.

Alternate WHA logo WHA Alternate.png
Alternate WHA logo

Problems

Right from the start, the league was plagued with problems. Many teams often found themselves in financial difficulty, folding or moving from one city to another, often in mid-season. Two of the original twelve teams, the Dayton Arrows and the San Francisco Sharks, relocated, citing arena troubles. These two franchises were moved to become the Houston Aeros and Quebec Nordiques, respectively. Other franchises, such as the Calgary Broncos and the Screaming Eagles, folded outright. The Philadelphia Blazers and the Cleveland Crusaders replaced the Screaming Eagles and the Broncos.

The New York Raiders, initially intended to be the WHA's flagship team, suffered from numerous problems. While they planned to play in the brand new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Nassau County did not consider the WHA a major league and wanted nothing to do with the Raiders. The county recruited William Shea, leader of New York City's successful lobbying campaign to get baseball's National League to expand following the 1957 departures of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. Working with the NHL, Shea swiftly won over the initially reluctant president of the New York Rangers, Bill Jennings, who was persuaded that it would be better to accept competition from an NHL team that would at least be willing to pay his club compensation for sharing the Rangers' territory as opposed to a WHA team that would owe his franchise nothing. The older league quickly awarded a franchise to Long Island, the New York Islanders, who effectively locked up the Coliseum for their own use. The Raiders were first forced to rent space at Madison Square Garden, where they were tenants to the Rangers. The situation rapidly became untenable, with an onerous lease and poor attendance, so the three original owners defaulted and the league ended up taking control of the team midway through the season. The Raiders were sold after that season and renamed the New York Golden Blades, but were forced to revert to a Sundays-only home schedule due to the high price of rent and scheduling conflicts with other events at Madison Square Garden. This, however, was not enough to save the team, and the league was forced to take over the franchise again 24 games into the season. Realizing that it could not hope to compete with both the Rangers and the Islanders, the WHA moved the Golden Blades to New Jersey soon after taking control. Renamed the Jersey Knights, they played at the Cherry Hill Arena which had a slope in the ice surface, [11] causing pucks to shoot upward from results of a pass or shot, as well as chain link fencing instead of Plexiglas surrounding the rink. The arena was also closely cramped, with players not having adequate changing and dressing facilities.

In another instance, Harold Ballard, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, deliberately made the Toronto Toros' lease terms at Maple Leaf Gardens as onerous as possible after they moved from Ottawa. The Toros were owned by John F. Bassett, son of Canadian media mogul John Bassett. The older Bassett had formerly been part-owner of the Leafs with Ballard and Stafford Smythe before falling out with his two partners. At the time the Toros' lease at Maple Leaf Gardens, Ballard was serving a lengthy prison term for fraud and tax evasion and unable to intervene, however, by the time the Toros played their first game, Ballard had been paroled and had regained control of the Gardens. Much to Bassett's outrage, the arena was dim for the first game. Ballard also ordered the cushions from the home bench removed for Toros' games (he told an arena worker, "Let 'em buy their own cushions!"). It was obvious that Ballard was angered at the WHA being figuratively in his backyard, and took out his frustration with the renegade league on the Toros. These terms compelled Bassett to move the team to Birmingham. [12]

In Denver, the Denver Spurs, an established Western Hockey League team, were originally supposed to join the NHL much in the same way the Vancouver Canucks and California Golden Seals had done in the preceding decade. When the NHL reneged on the agreement and Spurs owner Ivan Mullenix was unable to negotiate an early entry into the NHL, he accepted an offer to join the WHA. Disastrous attendance in Denver was blamed largely on the city's rejection of the WHA's assertion that it was a major league, and halfway through the season, the team abruptly moved to become the Ottawa Civics; after only seven games as the Civics, and 41 overall, the franchise folded. The NHL eventually fulfilled its promise to come to Denver by moving the Kansas City Scouts to Denver to become the Colorado Rockies in the 1976 offseason.

Part of the financial trouble was also attributed to the high player salaries. For instance, the Philadelphia Blazers signed Derek Sanderson for $2.6 million, which surpassed that of Brazilian soccer star, Pelé, making him the highest-paid athlete in the world at the time. [13] Unfortunately, his play did not live up to the expectations of his salary, and between an early-season injury, intemperate remarks to the press, and Blazer financial troubles, Sanderson's contract was bought out before the end of the season.

As well, big stars lacked supporting players and the quality of the on-ice product suffered.

Talent competition

The WHA had won several key victories, including a court ruling which prevented the NHL from binding players to NHL teams via the reserve clause, and the signings of more NHL stars such as Gordie Howe, Andre Lacroix, Marc Tardif, and in later years, Frank Mahovlich and Paul Henderson.

In 1974, to broaden a depleted talent pool, the WHA began employing European players – which the NHL had largely ignored up to that time – in serious numbers, including stars such as Swedish players Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson and Slovak center Vaclav Nedomansky, who had just defected from Czechoslovakia. Winnipeg especially loaded up with Scandinavian players and became the class of the league, with Hedberg and Nilsson combining with Bobby Hull to form one of hockey's most formidable forward lines. Along with the mass import of European stars, the Vancouver franchise attempted unsuccessfully to lure Phil Esposito away from the NHL by offering a contract similar to that of Bobby Hull, with a million dollars upfront. [14]

International play

The 1972 Summit Series, which pitted Team Canada against the Soviets, did not permit WHA players, due to the decision of series organizer Alan Eagleson, an NHL agent who was influential in forming the Canadian team. Bobby Hull, one of the best WHA players, was ruled ineligible to play because of his defection from the NHL, despite being initially selected by coach Harry Sinden. Dennis Hull initially planned to boycott the event as well as a show of support for his older brother, but Bobby persuaded him to stay on Team Canada. Other WHA stars turned down included Gerry Cheevers, J.C. Tremblay and Derek Sanderson. Some NHL owners also threatened not to free their players to participate if WHA players were permitted.

The WHA organized the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviets, giving an opportunity for Hull and 46-year-old Gordie Howe to play for Canada against the Soviet team, which the Soviets won 4-1-3.

In the 1976 Canada Cup, the NHL and NHLPA broadened the scope of the competition, inviting to the tournament a number of hockey countries and allowing each invited country to send the best possible team they could muster, so this time WHA players were permitted. WHA players played on four of the tournament's six teams.

In December 1976 and January 1977, the Super Series '76-77 tournament took place, opposing the HC CSKA Moscow (Red Army) and WHA teams. The Red Army won the series 6-2.

Decline and merger

By 1976, it had become evident that many of the WHA's franchises were teetering on the verge of financial collapse, and that the (at one time) combined 32 teams of the NHL and WHA had badly strained professional hockey's talent pool.

In 1977, merger discussions with the National Hockey League were first initiated, with Houston, Cincinnati, Winnipeg, New England, Quebec, and Edmonton applying for entry to the NHL. The NHL voted the proposal down. Merger discussions resumed in 1978, but Houston was not part of the proposal this time, and as a result the Aeros elected to fold on July 6, 1978. During the final series of talks, Aeros owner Kenneth Schnitzer suggested to the NHL that either his team be admitted as an expansion team independent of a merger, or he would attempt to purchase an existing club and relocate it to Houston. Neither came to fruition. Another proposal had the Edmonton Oilers and the New England Whalers moving to the NHL, with the Winnipeg Jets following a year later, but this was also not accepted by the NHL.

The final two seasons of the WHA saw the debut of many superstars, some of whom became hockey legends in the NHL, including Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mike Liut, and Mike Gartner. The Birmingham franchise alone featured future NHLers Rick Vaive, Michel Goulet, Rob Ramage, Ken Linseman, Craig Hartsburg, Rod Langway, Mark Napier, Pat Riggin and Gaston Gingras. [15]

However, by the end of the final season, only six teams remained. Facing financial difficulty and unable to meet payrolls, the WHA finally came to an agreement with the NHL in early 1979. Under the deal, four WHA clubs – the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers (renamed the Hartford Whalers), Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets – joined the NHL. The other two WHA teams, the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls, were paid $1.5 million apiece in compensation. The older league treated the new clubs' arrival as an expansion, not a merger. The NHL also refused to recognize any WHA records. While the new clubs were allowed to stock their rosters with an expansion draft, NHL teams were allowed to reclaim players who had jumped to the WHA. [16]

The WHA was able to extract three key concessions. First, the WHA teams were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skaters to keep their rosters from being completely stripped clean by the NHL teams. Second, the NHL allowed all of the WHA's Canadian teams to be part of the deal. The NHL had originally only been willing to take the Oilers, Whalers, and Jets, but the WHA insisted that the Nordiques be included as well. Third, although the NHL had insisted on treating the deal as an expansion, it agreed to freeze the expansion fee for each team at $6 million U.S., the same fee paid by every other team that had joined the NHL in the 1970s. By comparison, when the Atlanta Flames were sold and moved to Calgary one year later, the sale was $16 million U.S.

The deal came up for a vote at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in Key Largo, Florida on March 8. The final tally was 12-5, one vote short of passage, as a three-quarters majority was required to permit a merger. [17] The Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks voted against the deal. The Bruins were not pleased with having to share New England with the Whalers. Los Angeles and Vancouver feared losing home dates with NHL teams from the East. Montreal and Toronto were not enamored at the prospect of having to split revenue from Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts six ways rather than three. [16]

When a second vote was held in Chicago on March 22, however, Montreal and Vancouver changed their votes, allowing the deal to go forward. Vancouver and Los Angeles were won over by the promise of a balanced schedule, with each team playing the others twice at home and twice on the road. The Canadiens' owners, Molson Breweries, were feeling the effects of a massive boycott that originated in Edmonton, Quebec City, and Winnipeg and spread across Canada. [16] With the boycott severely hurting Molson's sales, the brewer reached agreement with the owners of the three Canadian WHA teams to have Molson replace their competitors (and Nordiques owners) Carling O'Keefe as the exclusive beer supplier for the Oilers' and Jets' arenas; it is probable that this concession was made in exchange for the Canadiens' vote.

The agreement officially took effect on June 22, 1979 (three months to the day after the deciding vote). On that day, the WHA folded and the NHL formally granted expansion franchises to Edmonton, Hartford, Quebec City, and Winnipeg.

Legacy of the WHA

On the ice, the WHA teams had proven themselves to be the NHL's competitive equals, winning more games than they lost in interleague exhibition games. [18]

The WHA had many lasting effects on NHL hockey. The NHL used to recruit virtually all its players from Canada, but following the success of the Jets' Hedberg and Nilsson, scouts began looking overseas for the best players that Europe could offer. Teams such as the Whalers and Fighting Saints also offered excellent opportunities for young American players, and several U.S.-born or -raised NHL stars of the early 1980s (such as Mark Howe, Rod Langway, Dave Langevin, Robbie Ftorek, and Paul Holmgren) began their pro careers in the WHA. As a result, the NHL evolved into a truly cosmopolitan league during the 1980s.

The WHA also ended the NHL policy of paying its players only a fraction of the league's profits and, combined with the abolition of the reserve clause, led to much higher player salaries. Many great stars began their careers in the WHA, including Mark Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Gartner, Mike Liut, and Mark Messier. Messier was the last WHA veteran to play in the NHL; he opened his professional career with 52 games with the Indianapolis Racers and Cincinnati Stingers in 1978–79, and played his last NHL game on April 3, 2004. The final active player and official in any on-ice capacity for the league was referee Don Koharski, who started as a linesman for the WHA and retired at the end of the 2008–09 NHL season.

The WHA instituted sudden death overtime for regular season games to break ties. If no team scored during a 10-minute overtime period then the game would end in a tie. In the 1983-84 season, the NHL then instituted a 5-minute sudden death overtime period to break regular season ties. [19]

The WHA also experimented with blue colored pucks which were supposedly easier for fans to see. The NHL did not adopt the blue pucks, but any remaining blue WHA pucks are highly sought after collectors' items.

Fate of surviving teams

The former WHA clubs, by the terms of the expansion, could protect only two goalies and two skaters each in the player dispersal draft. The Jets posted a dismal nine wins in their second season (second-fewest all-time for a season in the NHL), and finished last that season. However, the other former WHA teams did respectably well in their first year, with the Whalers and Oilers earning playoff berths. The Oilers chose to protect Wayne Gretzky in the dispersal draft, which would prove fortuitous. [16] Gretzky and the Whalers' Gordie Howe were selected to the mid-season All-Star Game, respectively the second-youngest and the oldest ever to play in such a match.

The 1980s was a successful period for the former WHA teams. The Oilers shattered numerous NHL records and amassed a Stanley Cup dynasty. The Jets, decimated by the dispersal draft, developed a solid nucleus of players which helped the club achieve respectable regular-season finishes. They had initially been placed in the Norris Division when the league realigned its divisions and adopted a playoff format that mandated intra-divisional matchups for the first two rounds in 1981. Winnipeg might have enjoyed better playoff fortunes had they been able to remain in the relatively weak Norris, however, just one year later, the Colorado Rockies moved east to New Jersey and the Jets were compelled to shift to the Smythe Division in order to re-balance the divisions. The Jets were never able to overcome the Oilers to win a Smythe Division title and advance past the second round of the postseason. After missing the playoffs in their first NHL season, the Nordiques quickly became competitive, advancing as far as the third round of the playoffs in only their third season. Quebec developed an intense rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, advanced to the third round again in 1985 and captured the Adams Division title in 1986. The Whalers had similar rivalries with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, attracting many Bruins and Rangers fans to their home games at the Hartford Civic Center, and skating to the 1986–87 Adams Division title.

In the 1990s, the former WHA clubs suffered from escalating player salaries (ironically, the same trend that was instigated by the WHA), which were difficult to meet with the restricted revenue streams in their smaller markets. The ex-WHA clubs based in Canada were also hit hard by the declining value of the Canadian dollar. The Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997 and became the Carolina Hurricanes. A year later, the Oilers came very close to being relocated to Houston until a consortium of local investors came up with the funds necessary to keep the Oilers in Edmonton. The Oilers remain as the last WHA team still in its original city. [20]

Hockey Hall of Fame members

List of WHA players and executives inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, for achievements in their hockey career.

Trophies and awards

This is a list of the trophies and awards handed out annually by the World Hockey Association.

Timeline of teams

Three Canadian teams completed all seven WHA seasons based in the same city, and were the same three Canadian teams that ultimately joined the NHL. The other WHA team to enter the NHL, the Whalers, were the only other WHA team to play all of its home games over seven seasons within a relatively small geographical area. Of the original 12 WHA franchises, only the Winnipeg Jets remained for all seven seasons without relocating, changing team names, or folding.

FranchiseCities/NamesYearsFate
Alberta/Edmonton Oilers Alberta Oilers1972–1973Joined NHL, 1979,
as Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers1973–1979
Chicago Cougars Chicago Cougars1972–1975Folded, 1975
Cincinnati Stingers Cincinnati Stingers1975–1979Folded, 1979
Calgary Broncos
Cleveland Crusaders
Minnesota Fighting Saints
Calgary Broncos (never played)1972Folded, 1977
Cleveland Crusaders1972–1976
Minnesota Fighting Saints1976–1977
Denver Spurs
Ottawa Civics
Denver Spurs1975–1976Folded, 1976
Ottawa Civics1976
Dayton Arrows
Houston Aeros
Dayton Arrows (never played)1972Folded, 1978
Houston Aeros1972–1978
Indianapolis Racers Indianapolis Racers1974–1978Folded, 1978
Los Angeles Aces
Los Angeles Sharks
Michigan Stags
Baltimore Blades
Los Angeles Aces (name changed after San Francisco moved)1972Folded, 1975
Los Angeles Sharks1972–1974
Michigan Stags1974–1975
Baltimore Blades1975
Minnesota Fighting Saints Minnesota Fighting Saints1972–1976Folded, 1976
New England Whalers New England Whalers1972–1979Joined NHL, 1979,
as Hartford Whalers
(now Carolina Hurricanes)
New York Raiders/Golden Blades
Jersey Knights
San Diego Mariners
New York Raiders1972–1973Folded, 1977
New York Golden Blades1973
Jersey Knights1973–1974
San Diego Mariners1974–1977
Ottawa Nationals
Toronto Toros
Birmingham Bulls
Ottawa Nationals1972–1973Folded, 1979
Toronto Toros1973–1976
Birmingham Bulls1976–1979
Miami Screaming Eagles
Philadelphia Blazers
Vancouver Blazers
Calgary Cowboys
Miami Screaming Eagles (never played)1972Folded, 1977
Philadelphia Blazers1972–1973
Vancouver Blazers1973–1975
Calgary Cowboys1975–1977
Phoenix Roadrunners Phoenix Roadrunners1974–1977Folded, 1977
San Francisco Sharks
Quebec Nordiques
San Francisco Sharks (never played)1972Joined NHL, 1979,
as Quebec Nordiques
(now Colorado Avalanche)
Quebec Nordiques1972–1979
Winnipeg Jets Winnipeg Jets1972–1979Joined NHL, 1979,
as Winnipeg Jets
(now Arizona Coyotes)

WHA All-Star Game

Every season of the World Hockey Association had an All-Star game, but the format changed with regularity. [21]

See also

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The Houston Aeros were a professional ice hockey team in the World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1972 to 1978.

The 1982–83 NHL season was the 66th season of the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders won their fourth Stanley Cup in a row with their second consecutive finals sweep by beating the Edmonton Oilers four games to none. No team in any major professional North American sport has won four consecutive playoff championships since.

The Gary L. Davidson Award was given to the most valuable player of the World Hockey Association regular season, from 1973 to 1975. It was named in honour of WHA co-founder Gary Davidson, but for the 1975–76 WHA season, it was renamed the Gordie Howe Trophy in honour of one of hockey's all-time greats; Gordie Howe.

The 1978–79 WHA season was the seventh and final season of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Prior to the start of the season, the Houston Aeros folded leaving seven teams to start the season. Only six would finish however, as the Indianapolis Racers folded after 25 games on December 15, 1978. The remaining six teams each played 80 games, including one game each per team against a Soviet All-Star squad and the Czechoslovakian National Team, the second consecutive year for this arrangement. The Soviet team won four of their six games and tied another; the Czech team only won once and tied once against four losses. In addition, because the Racers had folded after playing an odd number of games, the Edmonton Oilers played the Finnish National Team once at home so as to allow each of the six surviving WHA teams to play 80 regular season games. The Oilers won by a score of 8-4, a result which in itself made no difference by the end of the regular season which Edmonton won by an eleven point margin over the Quebec Nordiques.

The 1977–78 WHA season was the sixth season of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Eight teams played 80 games each. The Avco World Trophy winner was the Winnipeg Jets.

The 1979 NHL Expansion Draft was held on June 13, 1979. The draft took place to fill the rosters of the league's new teams for the 1979–80 season: the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. These four teams had joined the NHL after a merger agreement was reached with the World Hockey Association.

The 1979–80 Hartford Whalers season was the Whalers' first season in the National Hockey League. Along with the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets, the Whalers were one of four World Hockey Association franchises that joined the NHL. The Whalers season was Gordie Howe's final season in the NHL.

The 1979–80 Winnipeg Jets season was the franchise's eighth season since its inception in 1972, and its first season in the National Hockey League.

The 1979–80 Quebec Nordiques season was the Nordiques eighth season overall, however, it marked as their expansion season in the National Hockey League. Quebec had played their previous seven seasons in the now defunct World Hockey Association. In 1978–79, their last season in the WHA, Quebec finished the year with the second best record, as they had a 41-34-5 record, earning 87 points. The Nordiques were then swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA semi-finals. In the NHL, the team finished out of the playoffs.

History of the National Hockey League (1967–1992)

The expansion era of the National Hockey League (NHL) began when six new teams were added for the 1967–68 season, ending the Original Six era. The six existing teams were grouped into the newly created East Division, and the expansion teams—the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Oakland Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues—formed the West Division.

The 1976–77 Quebec Nordiques season was the Nordiques fifth season, as they were coming off their best season to date in 1975–76, earning a team record 50 victories and 104 points, as they finished in second place in the Canadian Division. In the post-season, Quebec win their first Avco Cup in team history. Serge Bernier would win the WHA Playoff MVP trophy, as he earned 36 points for the Nordiques in 17 post-season games.

The 1977–78 Quebec Nordiques season was the Nordiques sixth season in the WHA, as they were coming off of a 47–31–3 record in the 1976–77 season, finishing in first place in the Eastern Division. Quebec defeated the New England Whalers, Indianapolis Racers and Winnipeg Jets to win their first ever Avco Cup.

The 1978–79 Quebec Nordiques season was the Nordiques' seventh season in the WHA, were coming off of a 40-37-3 record in the 1977–78 season and a loss in the playoff semi-finals. The Nordiques improved to 41–34–5 to qualify for the playoffs, but lost in the first round to eventual Avco Cup champions Winnipeg Jets.

1987 Stanley Cup playoffs ice hockey playoffs

The 1987 Stanley Cup playoffs, the playoff tournament of the National Hockey League (NHL) began on April 8, after the conclusion of the 1986–87 NHL season. It concluded on May 31, with the Edmonton Oilers defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup. In an attempt to reduce the number of first round upsets, the NHL expanded the best-of-five series in the first round to a best-of-seven series.

The 1979 merger of the NHL and WHA was the culmination of several years of negotiations between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Hockey Association (WHA) that resulted in the WHA and all of its surviving franchises folding in return for the owners of four of the WHA's six surviving teams being granted expansion franchises that commenced play in the NHL for the 1979–80 season. The agreement officially took effect on June 22, 1979. The merger ended the seven-year existence of the WHA and re-established the NHL as the lone major league in North American professional ice hockey.

References

Footnotes
  1. Jeff Jacobs (June 27, 1994). "Forget Rest". Hartford Courant.
  2. Willes, 2004, pp. 8–9
  3. Willes, 2004, p. 14
  4. Willes, 2004, p. 18
  5. Willes, 2004, pp. 11–12
  6. Willes, 2004, p. 17
  7. Pincus, 2006, p. 139
  8. Willes, 2004, p. 33
  9. McFarlane, 1990, p. 132
  10. McFarlane, 1990, p. 133
  11. "A Nowhere Ride". Sports Illustrated. May 28, 1979.
  12. Hockey Trade Rumors – NHL Rumors from around the league – 37 Year Cup Drought – The Legacy of Harold Ballard
  13. Avery, Martin. "From Derek Sanderson to Derek Jeter to Sean Avery".
  14. Thunder and Lightning: a No-B.S. Hockey Memoir, Phil Esposito and Peter Golenbock, ISBN   978-0-7710-3086-4
  15. Bill Boyd, All Roads Lead to Hockey, 2004, Key Porter Books, ISBN   1-55263-618-6
  16. 1 2 3 4 Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN   1-57243-213-6.
  17. Scott Adam Surgent, The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association, 1972–1979, 1995, Xaler Press, ISBN   0-9644774-0-8
  18. "WHA vs NHL". WHAhockey.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  19. "New Rules Are Nothing New". National Hockey League. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  20. Duhatschek, Eric (August 23, 2012) [December 29, 2010]. "Harley Hotchkiss: Finding practical solutions to everyday problems". The Globe and Mail . Toronto. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  21. "A to Z Encyclopaedia of Ice Hockey - Wh".
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