First off, let’s take a moment to marvel at the astonishing coiffure on Beauce Jaros player-coach Jocelyn “Joe” Hardy on the cover of this October 1975 game program from the deeply violent North American Hockey League. The presumably natural topiary draped over Hardy’s temples rivals any of the artificial creations modeled by Phil Spector during his mid-Seventies Wall of Kelp Phase.
The Jaros, who played in the tiny Palais Des Sports in the city of Saint-Georges Quebec, were expansionists in the winter of 1975-76. Five games into the season, when this contest was played against the visiting Maine Nordiques, there was little to indicate that Joe Hardy was on his way to one of the greatest offensive campaigns in history of hockey.
The Beauce coach/captain was a 30-year old Quebecois center who played 273 games in the National Hockey League and its rival, the World Hockey Association (WHA), between 1969 and 1975. Although a solid scorer throughout his career, Hardy had never been notched more than 28 goals in a single campaign. The previous winter, in his final season at the Major League level, Hardy’s skills seemed to be in decline, at least on paper. He scored just 5 goals in 61 games split between three WHA clubs.
Through the first four games of the 1975-76 season, Hardy was off to a solid start in Beauce with 1 goal and two assists, but it was nothing to notify The Hockey News about. Then he exploded. Over the next 68 games, Hardy scored 59 times and tallied a mind-blowing 146 assists. His 148 assists and 208 total points on the season were both all-time pro hockey records. The NAHL, of course, named Hardy the Most Valuable Player of the 1975-76 season. More impressive, The Hockey News recognized Hardy as its Minor League Player-of-the-Year, breaking from a habit of only recognizing players in the American and Central leagues, which served the NHL. (The NAHL was the top minor league circuit of the rebel WHA).
Jocelyn Hardy became the first player to score 200 points in a pro season. Wayne Gretzky would become the 2nd, accomplishing the feat four times in the NHL between 1982 and 1986. To this day, Hardy and Gretzky remain the only professional players to score 200 points in the pros at any level.