Bassett has an interesting and extensive history as an executive in rival pro sports leagues. In addition to the WHA, he owned the Memphis team in the World Football League and managed to get immediate publicity when he acquired three key members of the Miami Dolphins' teams which resulted in a cover on Sports Illustrated.
He also owned the Tampa Bay team in the USFL and was the primary opponent to a switch from the spring to fall schedule. He passed away just prior to the astounding court decision in the USFL-NFL lawsuit.
Bassett has an interesting and extensive history as an executive in rival pro sports leagues....
Yes he was an interesting individual. His father was a media baron of sorts & had owned the Toronto Telegram amongst other newspapers & media outlets. Had invested in Maple Leaf Gardens & the Leafs, was part of the troika of Stafford Smythe & Harold Ballard who bought Conn Smythers shares in 1962 acquiring ownership of the club & building. When Stafford Smythe & Ballard were charged with theft & fraud in the late 60's over their misuse of Gardens funds, he had the Board remove them from their positions however he stopped short of forcing them to sell their shares in Maple Leaf Gardens Inc & the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stafford Smythe died from liver failure (heavy drinker) before being sentenced and Ballard had first right of refusal on his shares in the event of death, acquiring them from a jail cell. When he was released, ousting Bassett Sr. & laying claim to the whole shootin match. History of the Leafs & JF Basset Jr wouldve been a lot different through the 70's & 80's, today, had Bassett Sr not taken his foot off the throats of Stafford & Harold all those years ago.... Jr died rather young unfortunately, had been an excellent tennis player in his youth, his daughter Carling one of Canadas' best womens tennis players through the mid-80's & early 90's.
I remember reading in The Rebel League, a history of the WHA that had the 1979 merger with the NHL fallen through that Bassett planned to sign more junior players and had a wish list including including Ray Bourque, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wickenheiser and Tom McCarthy. Additionally he had also made a strong push to sign Wayne Gretzky in 1978. I think John Bassett Jr. is definitely one of the most underrated hockey minds in the game's history and that had he the time and resources to do more, he would have been held alongside the likes of Sam Pollock and Bill Torrey.