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Archive for the ‘WHA’ tag

1973 New York Golden Blades

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New York Golden BladesWorld Hockey Association (1973)

Born: May 30, 1973- Re-branded from New York Raiders
Moved: November 20, 1973 (Jersey Knights)

Arena: Madison Square Garden

Team Colors:

Owner: Ralf Brent, Lee Matison & Lawrence Stern

 

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.

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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1972-1974 Los Angeles Sharks

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Los Angeles Sharks ProgramWorld Hockey Association (1972-1974)

Born: 1972 – WHA founding franchise.
Died: April 1974 – The Sharks relocate to Detroit, MI.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners: Dr. Arthur Rhoades, Dennis Murphy, et al.

 

 

 

==Los Angeles Sharks Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1972-73

1972-73 10/19/1972 vs. Philadelphia Blazers  W 4-2 Program
1972-73 11/2/1972 @ Ottawa Nationals T 1-1 Program
1972-73 12/24/1972 @ New England Whalers W 5-3 Program
1972-73 1/9/1973 @ Minnesota Fighting Saints W 4-3 (OT) Program

1973-74

1973-74 10/21/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 4-1 Program
1973-74 10/23/1973 vs. Cleveland Crusaders W 4-3 Program
1973-74 10/24/1973 @ Houston Aeros L 6-2 Program
1973-74 11/7/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 3-1 Program
1973-74 3/31/1974 @ Toronto Toros L 5-4 Program

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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1972-73 Philadelphia Blazers

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Derek Sanderson Philadelphia BlazersWorld Hockey Association (1972-1973)

Born: May 1972 – The WHA’s planned Miami franchise shifts to Philadelphia.
Died: 
May 1973 – The Blazers relocate to Vancouver, BC.

Arena: Philadelphia Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owners: Bernard Brown & James Cooper

 

 

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Philadelphia Blazers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1972-73

1972-73 10/19/1972 @ Los Angeles Sharks L 4-2 Program
1972-73 12/15/1972  vs. Winnipeg Jets W 6-4 Program
1972-73 3/8/1973 vs. Minnesota Fighting Saints W 2-1 Program

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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March 13, 1976 – San Diego Mariners vs. Houston Aeros

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Gordie Howe Houston AerosSan Diego Mariners vs. Houston Aeros
March 13, 1976
San Diego Sports Arena
Attendance: 8,386

World Hockey Association Programs

 

Great-looking game day mag from the short-lived San Diego Mariners (1974-1977) of the old World Hockey Association.  The Mariners had a decent club, making the WHA’s AVCO Cup playoffs in all three seasons of their existence.  But they never quite managed to rekindle the enthusiasm that San Diegans showed for the Gulls, the city’s minor league hockey team of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

The Gulls occasionally sold out the 13,600 seat Sports Arena for their Western Hockey League tilts.  That was a feat that the Mariners – who displaced the Gulls in 1974 – could only dream of.  The 8,386 fans on hand for this March 1976 contest against the Houston Aeros was one of the largest Mariners gates of the 1975-76 season.  (San Diego averaged 6,237 per game that winter, ranking 12th in the 14-club WHA, per Kenn.com).

The special attraction that goosed the box office was Gordie Howe of the visiting Aeros, pro hockey’s all-time leading scorer who was due to turn 48 years old two weeks later.  Howe set up Andre Hinse for Houston’s first score in the opening period, but the Mariners carried a 2-1 lead into the final stanza.  That’s when the Howe family took over the game.  Gordie’s son Mark Howe notched the equalizer eight minutes into the third period.  Gordie then beat Mariners netminder Ernie Wakely with less than two minutes left to lift the Aeros to a 3-2 road victory.

The Mariners and the Aeros would meet again in the AVCO Cup playoff quarterfinals a month later.  Houston would end the Mariners’ postseason run for the second straight year, knocking off San Diego in six games.

 

==Links==

Houston Aeros Home Page

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1972-1978 Houston Aeros

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Gordie Howe Houston AerosWorld Hockey Association (1972-1978)

Born: March 1972 – The WHA’s planned Dayton, OH club shifts to Houston.
Died: July 9, 1978 – The Aeros cease operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Houston Aeros were a powerhouse club in the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s-era rival to the NHL.  The franchise was originally announced for Dayton, Ohio when the WHA was formed in late 1971, but arena and community issues forced the shift of the club to Houston before the league got under way in 1972.

The Aeros are best remembered for luring pro hockey’s all-time leading scorer, Gordie Howe ,out of retirement in 1973 and signing him to play alongside his sons Mark and Marty Howe.  There was no rust on the 45-year old star.  He scored 31 goals and added 69 assists to finish 3rd in the WHA in scoring and win league MVP honors in 1974.  The Aeros won the first of two straight AVCO Cup championships that spring.

Gordie Howe Houston AerosThe Aeros would win the Western Division title all four seasons that the Howe family play in Houston from 1974 through 1977.  The Aeros had great depth beyond the Howes as well.  Goaltending was a consistent strength of the club, first with Don McLeod (1972-1974) and later with the platoon of Ron Grahame and Wayne Rutledge.  Frank Hughes and Larry Lund were the Aeros’ all-time leading scorers with 149 goals a piece and both played all six seasons for the club.  Andre Hinse, Gord LaBossiere and Ted Taylor were also prolific scoring threats.  Future NHL stars Terry Ruskowski and John Tonelli both got their starts with the Aeros and the WHA in the ’70’s.

After winning their second straight WHA title in the spring of 1975, the Aeros moved out of the old Sam Houston Coliseum and into the brand new 15,000-seat Houston Summit later that fall.  Aeros attendance reached an all-time peak at 9,180 per game during the 1975-76 season.  The Aeros (53-27) made a third straight trip to the AVCO Cup finals in 1976, but were swept by their arch-rivals, the Winnipeg Jets, in four games.

Financial cracks began to show in February 1977, as the Aeros missed their payroll for the first time and players were asked to accept an indefinite deferment that drifted through the summer of 1977.  The Howe family departed en masse via free agency with Gordie and sons all signing with the WHA’s New England Whalers in free agency. Owners George Bolin and Walter Fondren – the team’s third investor group in five years – withdrew their backing and Summit arena chairman Kenneth Schnitzer had to step in to re-capitalize the team in late 1977.

Meanwhile, merger talks with the National Hockey League got underway in 1977.  At first blush, the Aeros seemed like a strong bet for acceptance into the senior circuit (which would require a rumored fee of around $3 million).  The team was an annual contender and played in a brand new 15,000-seat arena in a large media market.  But NHL owners voted down the proposal.  When merger talks resumed in 1978, a shorter list of four WHA remained under consideration for entry to the NHL and the Aeros were left off the list .  From the time he took control of the team in November 1977, Kenneth Schnitzer made clear that he wanted into the NHL.  Schnitzer sought to purchase the NHL’s struggling Colorado Rockies in June 1978 and relocate the franchise to Houston, but NHL owners let it be known that they opposed the move.  Frustrated with the various roadblocks to NHL membership, Schnitzer folded the Aeros on July 9, 1978.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Houston Aeros Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1972-73

1972-73 10/29/1973 @ Winnipeg Jets L 5-3 Program

1973-74

1973-74 10/17/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 7-2 Program
1973-74 10/24/1973 vs. Los Angeles Sharks W 6-2 Program
1973-74 12/2/1973 @ Toronto Toros L 5-2 Program
1973-74 12/9/1973 @ Vancouver Blazers W 5-3 Program
1973-74 3/27/1974 @ Vancouver Blazers W 8-1 Program
1973-74 4/1/1974 @ New England Whalers W 4-1 Program

1974-75

1974-75 9/26/1974 vs. St. Louis Blues (NHL) W 5-4 Program
1974-75 11/2/1974 vs. Phoenix Roadrunners W 8-2 Program
1974-75 11/26/1974 vs. Phoenix Roadrunners L 6-4 Program
1974-75 11/28/1974 vs. Edmonton Oilers W 2-0 Program
1974-75 11/30/1974 vs. Cleveland Crusaders  L 5-4 Program
1974-75 12/28/1974 vs. New England Whalers W 6-1 Program
1974-75 1/4/1975 vs. Michigan Stags W 5-2 Program
1974-75 1/12/1975 vs. Toronto Toros L 7-4 Program
1974-75 1/26/1975 @ Winnipeg Jets W 3-1 Program
1974-75 2/19/1975 vs. Quebec Nordiques W 10-4 Program
1974-75 2/22/1975 vs. Vancouver Blazers L 4-2 Program
1974-75 3/1/1975 vs. Chicago Cougars W 4-2 Program
1974-75 3/2/1975 vs. Indianapolis Racers W 4-3 (OT) Program
1974-75 3/17/1975 @ Toronto Toros L 5-4 Program
1974-75 3/20/1975 vs. Quebec Nordiques W 5-3 Program
1974-75 4/2/1975 vs. Cleveland Crusaders  W 7-6 Program

1975-76

1975-76 10/14/1975 @ Toronto Toros L 6-3 Program
1975-76 12/6/1975 @ Phoenix Roadrunners L 6-5 (OT) Program
1975-76 12/13/1975 @ Minnesota Fighting Saints L 4-3 Program
1975-76 1/15/1976  @ Ottawa Civics W 5-4 (OT) Program
1975-76 1/20/1976 vs. Toronto Toros L 7-5 Program
1975-76 1/31/1976 @ Minnesota Fighting Saints L 4-1 Program
1975-76 3/13/1976 @ San Diego Mariners W 3-2 Program

1976-77

1976-77 1/12/1977 @ Phoenix Roadrunners L 4-2 Program

 

==YouTube==

Broadcast highlights of the Aeros vs. the Cincinnati Stingers at The Summit on January 21, 1978

 

==In Memoriam==

Defenseman Dunc McCallum (Aeros ’72-73) died on March 31, 1983 at age 43.

Kenneth Schnitzer, the final owner of the Aeros, died of lung cancer on November 1, 1999 at 70. New York Times obit.

Former Aeros goaltender Don McLeod passed away on March 11, 2015 at the age of 68. Calgary Sun memoriam.

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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