World Hockey Association (1973)
Born: May 30, 1973- Re-branded from New York Raiders
Moved: November 20, 1973 (Jersey Knights)
Arena: Madison Square Garden
The New York Golden Blades lasted for just 24 games and marked the grim conclusion to the World Hockey Association’s hopes to plant its flag in New York. The WHA, a 1970’s rival to the NHL, originally hoped to place its New York Raiders franchise in the brand new Nassau Coliseum on Long Island in 1972. But the senior circuit blocked the WHA from Nassau by hastily awarding the New York Islanders expansion club to Long Island. The Raiders wound up in Manhattan, getting pushed around by the New York Rangers at the Madison Square Garden. The team’s original investors bailed and the league had to take over the Raiders two months into the WHA’s 1972-73 maiden season.
The league found a new buyer in the spring of 1973 with a consortium led by Ralf Brent. Brent’s group took over the club and immediately changed the name from Raiders to “Golden Blades”. The team, in fact, would wear white skates with gold colored blades. The Golden Blades scored an early coup in the summer of 1973, signing the league’s reigning scoring champion Andre Lacroix away from the similarly troubled Philadelphia Blazers club. Then things went south in a hurry.
The new owners were still saddled with the Raiders’ old lousy dates and expensive lease at the Garden. And they turned out not to have any real money. Brent & Co. missed their very first payroll in October 1973. (At least the Raiders’ owners made two payrolls before evaporating the previous winter). The WHA took over player payroll, but Brent and his partners were still responsible for funding the remaining operations of the Blades. By November 1973 they were on the verge of eviction from Madison Square Garden. The league stepped in on November 20th and seized the franchise. The Golden Blades were swiftly shipped off to tiny 5,000 Cherry Hill Arena on the outskirts of Philadelphia and finished out the 1973-74 season as the “Jersey Knights”.
The WHA never returned to New York. The league folded in 1979 following a merger that saw four of its teams join the NHL.