HFBoards

Go Back   HFBoards > General Hockey Discussion > The History of Hockey
Mobile Hockey's Future Become a Sponsor Site Rules Support Forum vBookie Page 2
Notices

The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Opinions on the WHA's reputation?

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old
12-30-2011, 11:44 PM
  #51
Hardyvan123
tweet@HardyintheWack
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Posts: 17,558
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Ya, Walton was a piece of work as a Junior with St. Mikes & the Neil McNeil Maroons along with the Marlies in Toronto, going on to win Rookie of the Year honors in the CPHL & then AHL along with a Calder in Rochester. He didnt crack the Leafs line-up full-time until 67-68, used as Power Play Specialist seeing limited action in 65-66 & 66-67, helping them win their last Cup. He was ridden hard by Imlach who didnt much care for players that came of age in the 60's, cutting him up for his play, criticizing him for his haircut, clothes, whatever, and just generally making life unbelievably unpleasant for a guy who had Superstar abilities.

Walton married a Smythe, I believe Staffords Niece, so he was sort of part of ownership further infuriating Imlach & to top it off, had Eagleson as his Agent/Lawyer & friend. Like Mahovlich, Walton became so depressed he started seeing a Psychiatrist who finally convinced the Leafs that theyd best be trading him or he might be done, so they packed him off to Philly along with Bruce Gamble. One guy with a tricky ticker who wound up having a coronary in-game (but finished it) and another who'd been broken by Drill Sargent Imlach, like poor old Vincent D'onofrio in Full Metal Jacket. Best up & coming Sniper in the Leafs Platoon destroyed early, never achieving what he couldve.
Not only two of the best war movies but 2 of the best movies ever you trickster.

Hardyvan123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-30-2011, 11:58 PM
  #52
mbhhofr
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Las Vegas
Country: United States
Posts: 618
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trottier View Post


Allowed the two line pass (red line) long before the NHL adopted it. Forced the penalty killing team to cross its own blueline before "icing" the puck, otherwise it was called back for a faceoff in their zone. (I actually like that rule).

Some funny trivia: the WHA puck was actually colored dark blue. They originally toyed around with the idea of a red puck, but needless to say, goaltenders would not consent.
The NHL adopted the center ice two line pass in the 1960's, before the WHA existed. The penalty killing team was not forced to cross the blue line before it was able to ice the puck, at least not as long as I was a Linesman from 1972-1976. The WHA used the blue puck in the first month of the league's existence. They had trouble with it bouncing too much, even when frozen, so it went back to the black puck.

mbhhofr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 01:03 AM
  #53
Killion
Global Moderator
 
Killion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 29,501
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Not only two of the best war movies but 2 of the best movies ever you trickster.
Ya, not a leap to imagine Shakey in that bathroom scene at 3am in D'onofrio's role. Or, a seriously stressed & pissed off Charlie Sheen clearing a Spyder Hole under the floorboards of a thatched roofed mud hut somewhere in the la Drang Valley. Poor guy.


Last edited by Killion: 12-31-2011 at 01:09 AM.
Killion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 02:03 PM
  #54
WheatiesHockey
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 585
vCash: 500
Not surprising, but the biggest critics of the initial WHA were the NHL owners. Most of them laughed at the thought of a competing league being anything like a threat to the NHL.
The WHA managed to win its legal cases on the reserve clause. The reserve clause was never much of an issue in Canada as there was never a tradition here on antitrust laws and restraint of trade like exists in the USA.
Established NHL players like Bobby Hull, JC Tremblay, Gerry Cheevers, Pat Stapleton and Johnny McKenzie took on a lot of personal and career risk by bolting the the new league.
Bill Friday gave up an established NHL officiating career to don the blue and white uniform and break up fights in the new league.
The paint jobs on goal tender masks got a lot more colourful in the WHA. The Oilers Ken Brown had one that looked like a clown face and Smokey McLeod had something that looked like a cat face. One of the Quebec goalies had a wild fleur de lis paint job.
There were some big money WHA team owners also like the Basset family in Toronto and the Kaiser family in Chicago.
In 1974 the WHA had two amateur drafts, one a 19 round event and a top secret two round draft. It kept the NHL guessing about which young prospects were being targeted.
The now defunct/merged IHL in the early 1990's tried to outgrow its industrial town image and become a competitor with the NHL and it was not anywhere close to being as successful as the WHA in challenging the NHL.

WheatiesHockey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 03:08 PM
  #55
nutbar
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Country: Canada
Posts: 1,592
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhhofr View Post
The NHL adopted the center ice two line pass in the 1960's, before the WHA existed. The penalty killing team was not forced to cross the blue line before it was able to ice the puck, at least not as long as I was a Linesman from 1972-1976. The WHA used the blue puck in the first month of the league's existence. They had trouble with it bouncing too much, even when frozen, so it went back to the black puck.
Didn't the WHA introduce the five minute overtime?

nutbar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 04:32 PM
  #56
Big Phil
Registered User
 
Big Phil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Country: Canada
Posts: 23,634
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Actually for Tardif it included 3 seasons, his first season back and the one before and after and I also included guys 1 year younger than him as well.

Did you even look at the list?

I didn't dig, I just checked more relevant stats.
Sure, but still, isn't that digging a little too much just to build a case? Why was Tardif a star in the WHA but prior to and after when he returned to the NHL he was not? I mean, the guy's numbers took a nosedive like so many others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
Mike Walton is an interesting case. Anybody who watched him play could tell that he had the skillset to be a star. Unfortunately, he was a streaky player who tended to be one dimensional and never was put into a position to excel until he went to the WHA. Started off with the Leafs but didn't really fit in with the Imlach style of play. By the time he got to Boston, their power play & first 2 lines were set so he really didn't get much chance to show off his offensive skills. 56 points was pretty good for a 3rd line guy, with little power play time & limited ice time. In the WHA, he got the ice time & was allowed to be the offensive player he was. No surprise that he had a great season.

What is perplexing is the WHA guys who put in better seasons when they returned to the NHL. Mike Rogers best WHA season was 83 points but he put up 3 straight 100+ seasons when he joined the NHL. Blaine Stoughton put up his best goals season with 56 when he came back to the NHL. I won't even mention Gretzky.

How can this be? they went to a better league but their numbers went up.

I am not really sure overall which league was better. Sure the NHl had great teams like the Canadiens & Flyers but they got to play against the Washington capitols & the Kansas City Scouts. The NHL was a very unbalanced league at the time.
Rogers is a perplexing case. I can't understand the reason his points jumped when he went from a 70-80 point guy in the WHA to a 100 point guy three seasons in a row in the NHL. Stoughton is a weird case too. He had a 104 season in the WHA and then a 100 point season in the NHL with 56 goals. I think with Gretzky the case is that he was getting progressively better with age. He was 17 in his last year in the WHA, and then 18 in his first year in the NHL. That explains the point increase for him because who is fully grown at 17? Those are rare cases of production going up in the NHL from the WHA. In those cases, each player got one year closer to their prime so that helps too. But even so, they are isolated cases.

J-C Tremblay never cracked more than 63 points in the NHL as a defenseman. He hit 89 points twice and led the WHA in assists twice as well and this is while he was well into his mid 30s and onward. Dave Keon in his mid to late 30s had 90 points but in his prime in the NHL never made it past 76. Hedberg went from scoring 70 goals and 131 points to 122 points in his last WHA season. When he was 27 in his first NHL season he cracked 78 points and that was his highest. Ulf Nilsson had 120, 114, 124 and 126 points in the WHA and never more than 66 in the NHL and he was 28 when he came to the NHL. Real Cloutier led the WHA in points with 141 as a 20 year old. He once had 97 points in the NHL but dropped from back to back 129 point seasons in the WHA to 89 points the following NHL season. How about Andre Lacroix? Never had more than 58 points in an NHL season but led the WHA in points twice with 147 and 124 points.

Lastly, here are the top 5 scorers in WHA history:
Andre Lacroix
Marc Tardif
Bobby Hull
Serge Bernier
Real Cloutier

Here are the top 5 scorers in the NHL from 1972-'79 which was the WHA's tenure:
Lafleur
Esposito
Dionne
Clarke
Sittler

In fact 8 of the top 10 scorers in the NHL during that time are in the HHOF. The two that aren't are Rene Robert and Pete Mahovlich, two players you surely would have picked for the HHOF at the time.

So is this really a debate? The WHA was a threat to the NHL at the time much in the same way the KHL is to us today but no one even has to ask which league is better. In all honesty, should Gordie Howe (despite being Mr. Hockey) have been able to put up two 100 point seasons and two more 95+ seasons as a player who was 45 years old and onwards? His last season in the NHL when he was 42 he put up 71 points.

Big Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 04:39 PM
  #57
Trottier
Very Random
 
Trottier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: San Diego
Posts: 29,236
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhhofr View Post
The NHL adopted the center ice two line pass in the 1960's, before the WHA existed. The penalty killing team was not forced to cross the blue line before it was able to ice the puck, at least not as long as I was a Linesman from 1972-1976. The WHA used the blue puck in the first month of the league's existence. They had trouble with it bouncing too much, even when frozen, so it went back to the black puck.
And Happy New Year to you, too!

You need to clarify the two-line pass mention - what then was changed just several years back in the NHL?

I remain confident about the icing the puck on the PK rule. I'm not creative or senile enough to make that up. I can even recall the source - an old NY Raiders team guide that outlined the differences in WHA play (from the NHL). Only thing I could think of was that the rule was dropped, but I'm pretty certain I recall otherwise. I was admittedly a mere child at the time.

I'll happly defer to your expertise regarding the duration they deployed the blue puck. Read about it from the same source.


Last edited by Trottier: 12-31-2011 at 04:53 PM.
Trottier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 06:35 PM
  #58
TasteofFlames
Registered User
 
TasteofFlames's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Athens, GA
Country: United States
Posts: 2,871
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trottier View Post
Some funny trivia: the WHA puck was actually colored dark blue. They originally toyed around with the idea of a red puck, but needless to say, goaltenders would not consent.
I've actually heard stories that the dye used in the pucks prevented them from freezing properly, so the pucks would be every shape but round by the end of the night. I guess playing with a wonky Puck is just another day in the life of a WHAer.

TasteofFlames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 06:59 PM
  #59
mbhhofr
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Las Vegas
Country: United States
Posts: 618
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trottier View Post
And Happy New Year to you, too!

You need to clarify the two-line pass mention - what then was changed just several years back in the NHL?

I remain confident about the icing the puck on the PK rule. I'm not creative or senile enough to make that up. I can even recall the source - an old NY Raiders team guide that outlined the differences in WHA play (from the NHL). Only thing I could think of was that the rule was dropped, but I'm pretty certain I recall otherwise. I was admittedly a mere child at the time.

I'll happly defer to your expertise regarding the duration they deployed the blue puck. Read about it from the same source.
At one time, a player, in the neutral zone, had to receive the puck, passed from his defending zone before his skates were across the red line. Even if he followed the puck across the red line and then touched the puck, he was considered offside. The rule was changed to apply the same ruling as an offside at the blue line. He could follow the puck across the red line and receive it. That rule was actually first put into effect in the late 1950's in the old professional Western Hockey League.

As for icing the puck, when a team was short handed, you were right about them having to cross the blue line before shooting the puck down the ice and not having an icing situation. However, the rule was changed back to what it was previously, where a team that was short handed, could shoot it from their defending zone all the way down the ice and it wasn't considered icing. Sorry, I was having a Senior Moment.

As for the blue puck, I'm looking at one on my desk right now.

Happy New Year to you too.


Last edited by mbhhofr: 12-31-2011 at 07:09 PM. Reason: adding information
mbhhofr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 07:04 PM
  #60
mbhhofr
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Las Vegas
Country: United States
Posts: 618
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by nutbar View Post
Didn't the WHA introduce the five minute overtime?
They played a ten minute sudden death overtime period.

mbhhofr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 07:06 PM
  #61
Hardyvan123
tweet@HardyintheWack
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Posts: 17,558
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Sure, but still, isn't that digging a little too much just to build a case? Why was Tardif a star in the WHA but prior to and after when he returned to the NHL he was not? I mean, the guy's numbers took a nosedive like so many others.



Rogers is a perplexing case. I can't understand the reason his points jumped when he went from a 70-80 point guy in the WHA to a 100 point guy three seasons in a row in the NHL. Stoughton is a weird case too. He had a 104 season in the WHA and then a 100 point season in the NHL with 56 goals. I think with Gretzky the case is that he was getting progressively better with age. He was 17 in his last year in the WHA, and then 18 in his first year in the NHL. That explains the point increase for him because who is fully grown at 17? Those are rare cases of production going up in the NHL from the WHA. In those cases, each player got one year closer to their prime so that helps too. But even so, they are isolated cases.

J-C Tremblay never cracked more than 63 points in the NHL as a defenseman. He hit 89 points twice and led the WHA in assists twice as well and this is while he was well into his mid 30s and onward. Dave Keon in his mid to late 30s had 90 points but in his prime in the NHL never made it past 76. Hedberg went from scoring 70 goals and 131 points to 122 points in his last WHA season. When he was 27 in his first NHL season he cracked 78 points and that was his highest. Ulf Nilsson had 120, 114, 124 and 126 points in the WHA and never more than 66 in the NHL and he was 28 when he came to the NHL. Real Cloutier led the WHA in points with 141 as a 20 year old. He once had 97 points in the NHL but dropped from back to back 129 point seasons in the WHA to 89 points the following NHL season. How about Andre Lacroix? Never had more than 58 points in an NHL season but led the WHA in points twice with 147 and 124 points.

Lastly, here are the top 5 scorers in WHA history:
Andre Lacroix
Marc Tardif
Bobby Hull
Serge Bernier
Real Cloutier

Here are the top 5 scorers in the NHL from 1972-'79 which was the WHA's tenure:
Lafleur
Esposito
Dionne
Clarke
Sittler

In fact 8 of the top 10 scorers in the NHL during that time are in the HHOF. The two that aren't are Rene Robert and Pete Mahovlich, two players you surely would have picked for the HHOF at the time.

So is this really a debate? The WHA was a threat to the NHL at the time much in the same way the KHL is to us today but no one even has to ask which league is better. In all honesty, should Gordie Howe (despite being Mr. Hockey) have been able to put up two 100 point seasons and two more 95+ seasons as a player who was 45 years old and onwards? His last season in the NHL when he was 42 he put up 71 points.
Look no one is arguing that the WHA was better or even equal to the NHL but you are overstating the gap and your original use of Tardif is simply not helping your case.

The WHA was closer to the NHL than it was to the AHL (at any point) and by quite a bit.

Tardif left for the WHA when he was 24, his 1st 3 full seasons with the Habs were not very unlike Guy Lafleur and when he came back to the NHL at 30 he also wasn't very unlike Lafleur either.

Bottom line is that he spent his prime in the WHA and very well could have put up close to those totals in an ideal situation in the NHL ie 3 or 4 100 plus point seasons.

Cloutier actually was leading the NHL in scoring, can't remember the exact year, before he went down with injury (probably 80). his skill set was world class it's just too bad his heart and desire didn't match his skills.

Kent Nilsson also adapted well into the NHL but to be fair he was 21 and 22 in the WHA.

Injuries caught up to Ulf Nilsson on the Rangers and to some degree Hedberg also suffered because of this.

sure hedberg wasn't a "star" in the NHL but he was still a pretty decent player and the conidtions were differetn on the team he played on as well.

We might have know more about the actual transition if the 4 teams coming into the NHL had kept all of the WHA's talent but this didn't happen.

As we have seen some of the WHA stars actually transitioned extremely well even if they didn't hit their career highs from the WHA for different reasons and some players actually did better stat wise.

Hardyvan123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 07:32 PM
  #62
pappyline
Registered User
 
pappyline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Mass/formerly Ont
Country: United States
Posts: 4,258
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Look no one is arguing that the WHA was better or even equal to the NHL but you are overstating the gap and your original use of Tardif is simply not helping your case.

The WHA was closer to the NHL than it was to the AHL (at any point) and by quite a bit.

Tardif left for the WHA when he was 24, his 1st 3 full seasons with the Habs were not very unlike Guy Lafleur and when he came back to the NHL at 30 he also wasn't very unlike Lafleur either.

Bottom line is that he spent his prime in the WHA and very well could have put up close to those totals in an ideal situation in the NHL ie 3 or 4 100 plus point seasons.

Cloutier actually was leading the NHL in scoring, can't remember the exact year, before he went down with injury (probably 80). his skill set was world class it's just too bad his heart and desire didn't match his skills.

Kent Nilsson also adapted well into the NHL but to be fair he was 21 and 22 in the WHA.

Injuries caught up to Ulf Nilsson on the Rangers and to some degree Hedberg also suffered because of this.

sure hedberg wasn't a "star" in the NHL but he was still a pretty decent player and the conidtions were differetn on the team he played on as well.

We might have know more about the actual transition if the 4 teams coming into the NHL had kept all of the WHA's talent but this didn't happen.

As we have seen some of the WHA stars actually transitioned extremely well even if they didn't hit their career highs from the WHA for different reasons and some players actually did better stat wise.
I am in agreement with Hardyvan here (maybe for the first time ever) but will add a few comments.

The NHL was the better league or at least had more superstars than the WHA. The WHA certainly played a more wide open style which resulted in some guys putting up some better than average numbers. It was also the case of some players with great offensive skills who were somewhat stifled in the NHL. They get to the WHA and become the go to guy with the power play time and start putting points on the board.

The WHA signed about 67 regular NHL players in their first season. That was about 25% of the NHL rosters. Most of the players they signed were decent players. They weren't scrubs. The NHL had the most superstars. IMO, the next tier of players were about equal and so were the third liners.

The NHL was incredibly weakened by the both by the WHA raids and by the rapid NHL expansion incurred to beat the WHA into new markets. The NHL was not a competitive league in the 70's. A few packed great teams and several bad ones. Personally, I take the scoring exploits of guys like Lafleur and Esposito with a grain of salt. They were in a perfect Storm situation.

pappyline is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
12-31-2011, 10:57 PM
  #63
WheatiesHockey
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 585
vCash: 500
Reputation is a very subjective term.
When the NHL found out that they would have to give their players salary raises or that they had actual competition for box office receipts, naturally enough the opinions were negative.
The WHA created the New York Raider franchise, not because the Raiders would steal fans from the Gotham Blue Shirts, but because of the importance of a league media presence.
The Raider franchise struggled on the ice, had a horrible and expensive lease at MSG and eventually became the New York Golden Blades halfway though the next season before throwing in the towel and becoming the New Jersey Knights and playing in a totally substandard facility removed from mainstream media attention.
Signing Bobby Hull may have been exciting for people in Winnipeg and it certainly was if one watched the crowds in front of the Richardson building. Publicity wise, enthusiasm from the Free Press, Tribune, CKY and CKND didn't stretch much beyond the Perimeter highway. Bobby Hull may have been a marquee player, but he was a star player in the wrong place for league publicity.
The WHA really needed strong franchises in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles to grow and none of that ever materialised. Even the well established NHL was very happy to see Wayne Gretzky depart Edmonton in 1988 for sunny southern California for media purposes.

WheatiesHockey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-01-2012, 01:51 AM
  #64
kaiser matias
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,392
vCash: 500
I actually just wrote an essay for a university class on the WHA. I argued that the league was doomed to fail, and from the start was an unsuccessful venture.

Key points I argued was the lack of a big presence in major markets, and the fact that in direct competition with the NHL in markets, the WHA lost handidly. Since not many established players were willing to make the jump, salaries went up beyond a sustainable level that the WHA owners could maintain. The constant folding and shifting of franchises as a result of these measures hurt the image of the league, as well as the fact that the main founder, Gary Davidson, was more concerned with founding new leagues in every sport imaginable rather than developing said leagues. Quite frankly, any league that allowed Derek Sanderson to become the highest paid athlete in the world was not going to last long. He was good, but not that good.

Despite that, I think the WHA has a tarnished reputation, fostered by hostility from people associated with the NHL who had to compete with the rebel league and adopted by others. It brought hockey into the modern age of sports, and while the NHL probably would have developed free agency and higher salaries eventually, the WHA made it happen at a far more rapid pace. It also forced the NHL to start looking towards Europe and the NCAA for players, even if that also took a while to take hold. But because people with a vested interest in the NHL were so adament against the other league, it will forever be looked down upon.

And just for bragging purposes, I got 95% on that paper, and the professor kept a version of it for his records. He has written some academic articles on the WHA, and liked my views on it.

kaiser matias is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-01-2012, 04:02 AM
  #65
WheatiesHockey
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 585
vCash: 500
Benny Hatskin the owner of the Jets made the comment that all twelve of the WHA owners were really smart and successful businessmen.
Looking backward, one could probably make the argument that the WHA was doomed to failure. Other folks might interpret the outcome as a 7 year war that forced the NHL to change.
Six of the WHA franchises were in NHL cities, but only New York, New England and Chicago were original six country. Philadelphia, Minnesota and Los Angeles were post 1967 expansion sites and hardly on stable footing. The North Stars were hardly a model of stability with the merger and later movement to Dallas Texas. It took Bruce McNall paying $18 million of money he did not have to bring Wayne Gretzky to Tinseltown. and really establish hockey in SoCal.
Harold Baldwin and John Spano wound up owning NHL franchises with no skin in the game whatsoever. John Rigas bought the Buffalo Sabres, same thing.
Derek Sanderson might have been a bad signing, but the Blazers owners pulled the plug on that deal 8 games into the season. Even if Sanderson was a questionable signing, it would be wrong for the league to intervene on individual franchise matters. You do not see the NHL hauling the Rangers up on the rug for paying Wade Redden $6.5 million to play with the AHL Whale.

WheatiesHockey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-01-2012, 04:34 PM
  #66
BubbaBoot
Registered User
 
BubbaBoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: The Fenway
Country: Wallis & Futuna
Posts: 11,306
vCash: 500
Just finished reading a Christmas present, "The Rebel League".....pretty entertaining read.....much like "Loose Balls", the book on the old ABA, these renegade leagues had it's fair shares of ups and downs and til this day, neither league gets a lot of respect.

I mean, is comparing Tardif's WHA stats to his NHL stats the same as comparing Dr. J's ABA stats to his NBA stats?

Anyways, according to what I've read, (from a few different sources), Tardif was a legitimate star who was never the same after getting jumped by Jodzio.

BubbaBoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-01-2012, 06:05 PM
  #67
WheatiesHockey
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 585
vCash: 500
The WHA accomplished a lot even if the results were sometimes messy.
By the third season the quality of play was comparable to the NHL and the WHA teams were good enough to beat some pretty excellent Russian teams.
The eventual merger actually improved the NHL with a large contingent of talented youngsters. Three of the four former WHA teams in their current form have managed to win Stanley Cups.
The fact that the WHA was able to fight a protracted seven year war with the NHL monopoly and at least partially join the club is still a pretty big feat.

WheatiesHockey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-02-2012, 12:03 AM
  #68
TasteofFlames
Registered User
 
TasteofFlames's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Athens, GA
Country: United States
Posts: 2,871
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaiser matias View Post
I actually just wrote an essay for a university class on the WHA. I argued that the league was doomed to fail, and from the start was an unsuccessful venture.

Key points I argued was the lack of a big presence in major markets, and the fact that in direct competition with the NHL in markets, the WHA lost handidly. Since not many established players were willing to make the jump, salaries went up beyond a sustainable level that the WHA owners could maintain. The constant folding and shifting of franchises as a result of these measures hurt the image of the league, as well as the fact that the main founder, Gary Davidson, was more concerned with founding new leagues in every sport imaginable rather than developing said leagues. Quite frankly, any league that allowed Derek Sanderson to become the highest paid athlete in the world was not going to last long. He was good, but not that good.

Despite that, I think the WHA has a tarnished reputation, fostered by hostility from people associated with the NHL who had to compete with the rebel league and adopted by others. It brought hockey into the modern age of sports, and while the NHL probably would have developed free agency and higher salaries eventually, the WHA made it happen at a far more rapid pace. It also forced the NHL to start looking towards Europe and the NCAA for players, even if that also took a while to take hold. But because people with a vested interest in the NHL were so adament against the other league, it will forever be looked down upon.

And just for bragging purposes, I got 95% on that paper, and the professor kept a version of it for his records. He has written some academic articles on the WHA, and liked my views on it.
The thing is, the WHA was never intended to supplant the NHL in popularity, or really to last very long at all. The goal was to interfere, or potentially interfere, with the NHL's everyday business so much that they had to be absorbed/bought out. In this, the WHA achieved a moderate success. There were a couple of other proposed plans for merging which were much more favorable to the WHA (more teams, teams got to protect more players, ect) that were voted down largely due to the egos of Toronto and Montreal. So while the league didn't get the deal they had hoped for, the WHA still managed to send 4 teams to the NHL.

TasteofFlames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-02-2012, 07:21 PM
  #69
Big Phil
Registered User
 
Big Phil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Country: Canada
Posts: 23,634
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Look no one is arguing that the WHA was better or even equal to the NHL but you are overstating the gap and your original use of Tardif is simply not helping your case.

The WHA was closer to the NHL than it was to the AHL (at any point) and by quite a bit.

Tardif left for the WHA when he was 24, his 1st 3 full seasons with the Habs were not very unlike Guy Lafleur and when he came back to the NHL at 30 he also wasn't very unlike Lafleur either.

Bottom line is that he spent his prime in the WHA and very well could have put up close to those totals in an ideal situation in the NHL ie 3 or 4 100 plus point seasons.

Cloutier actually was leading the NHL in scoring, can't remember the exact year, before he went down with injury (probably 80). his skill set was world class it's just too bad his heart and desire didn't match his skills.

Kent Nilsson also adapted well into the NHL but to be fair he was 21 and 22 in the WHA.

Injuries caught up to Ulf Nilsson on the Rangers and to some degree Hedberg also suffered because of this.

sure hedberg wasn't a "star" in the NHL but he was still a pretty decent player and the conidtions were differetn on the team he played on as well.

We might have know more about the actual transition if the 4 teams coming into the NHL had kept all of the WHA's talent but this didn't happen.

As we have seen some of the WHA stars actually transitioned extremely well even if they didn't hit their career highs from the WHA for different reasons and some players actually did better stat wise.
The Tardif scenario is interesting in this situation. I find it interesting that you mention Lafleur and Tardif in the same breath. Yes, Lafleur himself got off to a slow start in the NHL. By the 4th year however, he broke out into superstardom and for the last half of the 1970s was the world's best player. Tardif in his 4th NHL season had 50 points on a stacked Cup winning team. Lafleur had 119 points in his 4th season. Then he won 3 straight Art Ross trophies. He was actually the clear cut best player in the NHL by a noticeable margin. He was beating Clarke, Perreault, Dionne and Trottier for the Art Ross. Tardif in that same time frame won two scoring titles in the WHA. He was beating an aging Hull, Cloutier, Hedberg, Nilsson and Ftorek for those titles (these are all the players who were top 5 those two years).

Is there really an argument as to who had the much tougher competition to stand out among their peers?

Look I think the evidence I produced in my posts show that the WHA was pretty much a floaters league. It is eerily similar to the NHL in 1944 which was depleted because of the war. Herb Cain did nothing outside of those years. Neither did a lot of other players, some never made it back into the NHL. Look at the 1945 Maple Leafs, lots of those guys lasted 2-3 years and it isn't a secret as to why.

There are way too many "what ifs" associated with Tardif's career. He made the decision to play in the league where it is impossible to know just how good he might have been. He played alongside guys who didn't do anything significant in the NHL and to me that's telling enough. I just don't think age has helped the WHA at all

Big Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-02-2012, 07:25 PM
  #70
Big Phil
Registered User
 
Big Phil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Country: Canada
Posts: 23,634
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
The WHA signed about 67 regular NHL players in their first season. That was about 25% of the NHL rosters. Most of the players they signed were decent players. They weren't scrubs. The NHL had the most superstars. IMO, the next tier of players were about equal and so were the third liners.

The NHL was incredibly weakened by the both by the WHA raids and by the rapid NHL expansion incurred to beat the WHA into new markets. The NHL was not a competitive league in the 70's. A few packed great teams and several bad ones. Personally, I take the scoring exploits of guys like Lafleur and Esposito with a grain of salt. They were in a perfect Storm situation
That being said, I don't see anyone in the NHL today that would have beaten Lafleur or Esposito for the scoring title. The only one that could got "checked" by David Krejci and may never play again. The first couple years of the WHA were decent, but once the NHL owners matched the salaries there is little doubt where pretty much ALL the balance of power was located.

Big Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-03-2012, 01:47 AM
  #71
WheatiesHockey
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 585
vCash: 500
Calling the WHA a floater league is wrong.
You can watch game film from that era and probably reach a different conclusion.
None of those fights were stage managed from the bench.

WheatiesHockey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-03-2012, 05:40 PM
  #72
Big Phil
Registered User
 
Big Phil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Country: Canada
Posts: 23,634
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by WheatiesHockey View Post
Calling the WHA a floater league is wrong.
You can watch game film from that era and probably reach a different conclusion.
None of those fights were stage managed from the bench.
I never said the fights were staged at all. It is just that a league where Walton and Ftorek thrived and that is never a good thing when you talk about the elite players.

Big Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-04-2012, 10:41 AM
  #73
Hawksfan2828
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Libertyville, IL
Posts: 11,726
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Sure, but still, isn't that digging a little too much just to build a case? Why was Tardif a star in the WHA but prior to and after when he returned to the NHL he was not? I mean, the guy's numbers took a nosedive like so many others.



Rogers is a perplexing case. I can't understand the reason his points jumped when he went from a 70-80 point guy in the WHA to a 100 point guy three seasons in a row in the NHL. Stoughton is a weird case too. He had a 104 season in the WHA and then a 100 point season in the NHL with 56 goals. I think with Gretzky the case is that he was getting progressively better with age. He was 17 in his last year in the WHA, and then 18 in his first year in the NHL. That explains the point increase for him because who is fully grown at 17? Those are rare cases of production going up in the NHL from the WHA. In those cases, each player got one year closer to their prime so that helps too. But even so, they are isolated cases.

J-C Tremblay never cracked more than 63 points in the NHL as a defenseman. He hit 89 points twice and led the WHA in assists twice as well and this is while he was well into his mid 30s and onward. Dave Keon in his mid to late 30s had 90 points but in his prime in the NHL never made it past 76. Hedberg went from scoring 70 goals and 131 points to 122 points in his last WHA season. When he was 27 in his first NHL season he cracked 78 points and that was his highest. Ulf Nilsson had 120, 114, 124 and 126 points in the WHA and never more than 66 in the NHL and he was 28 when he came to the NHL. Real Cloutier led the WHA in points with 141 as a 20 year old. He once had 97 points in the NHL but dropped from back to back 129 point seasons in the WHA to 89 points the following NHL season. How about Andre Lacroix? Never had more than 58 points in an NHL season but led the WHA in points twice with 147 and 124 points.

Lastly, here are the top 5 scorers in WHA history:
Andre Lacroix
Marc Tardif
Bobby Hull
Serge Bernier
Real Cloutier

Here are the top 5 scorers in the NHL from 1972-'79 which was the WHA's tenure:
Lafleur
Esposito
Dionne
Clarke
Sittler

In fact 8 of the top 10 scorers in the NHL during that time are in the HHOF. The two that aren't are Rene Robert and Pete Mahovlich, two players you surely would have picked for the HHOF at the time.

So is this really a debate? The WHA was a threat to the NHL at the time much in the same way the KHL is to us today but no one even has to ask which league is better. In all honesty, should Gordie Howe (despite being Mr. Hockey) have been able to put up two 100 point seasons and two more 95+ seasons as a player who was 45 years old and onwards? His last season in the NHL when he was 42 he put up 71 points.
Howe played his last season in Hartford in 1979-80, as did Bobby Hull.

That team was actually pretty stacked with former superstars and legends..

Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Mark and Marty Howe, Mike Rodgers, Blaine Stoughton, Dave Keon and Andre Lacroix..

Hawksfan2828 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-04-2012, 10:58 AM
  #74
BlackNgold 84
Known Kellyist
 
BlackNgold 84's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Massachusetts
Country: United States
Posts: 2,520
vCash: 500
I just took a general perusing of this thread but i was wondering.. is there a book/s or documentary on the WHA I've always to know how many teams there was and how long is was considered competitive?

BlackNgold 84 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old
01-04-2012, 11:25 AM
  #75
Hawksfan2828
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Libertyville, IL
Posts: 11,726
vCash: 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNgold 84 View Post
I just took a general perusing of this thread but i was wondering.. is there a book/s or documentary on the WHA I've always to know how many teams there was and how long is was considered competitive?
I don't know if there are any books that document the WHA, however I can tell you there were many teams, and many of them folded as quickly as they sprouted.

When that occurred teams would just sell players to other franchises to recoup the losses. Wayne Gretzky is a perfect example of that, when he was pretty much sold to Edmonton by Indianapolis...

Hawksfan2828 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Forum Jump


Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:25 PM.

monitoring_string = "e4251c93e2ba248d29da988d93bf5144"

vBulletin Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
HFBoards.com is a property of CraveOnline Media, LLC, an Evolve Media, LLC company. 2016 All Rights Reserved.