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Phil Esposito and the WHA

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06-13-2013, 07:00 AM
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Canadiens1958
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Phil Esposito and the WHA

The Phil Esposito to the WHA story resurfaced recently as part of his comments about the 2013 SC Finals:

http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_r...o-me?eref=sihp

At the time it was viewed as one of the unlikely NHL player to the WHA rumours that were plentiful but rarely realistic.

Couple of questions.

Such rumours, player X to the WHA, tended to be regional - Lafleur to the Nordiques in the province of Quebec, with little play elsewhere. Very little Espo talk in Montreal. Same elsewhere?

Did the rumours, negotiations play a role in the Esposito trade to the Rangers? Park and Ratelle were viewed as NHL lifers while Vadnais was rumoured as a possible Nordique.

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06-13-2013, 10:20 AM
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MiamiScreamingEagles
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After the 1974 Finals, when Bep Guidolin (Bruins' head coach) resigned, he went public with comments about Phil Esposito and it got a good deal of attention. I don't have the exact quote but the timing was certainly questioned by Guidolin, basically saying that he (Esposito) was negotiating during the playoffs with Vancouver (WHA) being the primary intent and to a lesser degree Cincinnati. Esposito immediately challenged the comments and said "he can go to hell" if there was suspicion as to dedication.

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06-13-2013, 10:44 AM
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1974 NHL / WHA Agreement

Quote:
Originally Posted by MiamiScreamingEagles View Post
After the 1974 Finals, when Bep Guidolin (Bruins' head coach) resigned, he went public with comments about Phil Esposito and it got a good deal of attention. I don't have the exact quote but the timing was certainly questioned by Guidolin, basically saying that he (Esposito) was negotiating during the playoffs with Vancouver (WHA) being the primary intent and to a lesser degree Cincinnati. Esposito immediately challenged the comments and said "he can go to hell" if there was suspicion as to dedication.
Interesting timing within the context of the agreement between the NHL and WHA setting an August 1, 1974 deadline:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...1582%2C2872089

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06-13-2013, 10:56 AM
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1974 Dink Carroll - Guidolin, Coaching

1974 column by Dink Carroll about the difficulties Bep Guidolin had coaching the Bruins and other coaching comments:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...=2445%2C175348

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06-13-2013, 11:02 AM
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Canadiens1958
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1974 Esposito's Reply

Phile Esposito's reply:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...=4288%2C177198

leaving Vancouver?

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06-13-2013, 02:52 PM
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In his book - Thunder and Lightning - that came out in 2003 Esposito talks about this a great deal. He loved Boston. 40 years later he still seems a bit bitter towards Sinden about it and to be honest I have no idea why the Bruins don't include him in more things as part of their alumni. That era was Espo and Orr and no one unseats Orr but Esposito is an all-time great and helped put the Bruins on the map.

Anyway, in his book he talks about running into the GM for Vancouver of the WHA early in the 1975-'76 season. The GM tells him that Boston was going to make some changes and he was going to be one of them. Esposito didn't believe him and then asked Harry Sinden about it to which Harry replied "As long as I am here, you're here." Three weeks later Esposito was traded. To hear him talk in that book, he wanted to retire as a Bruin.

It's a lot like Gretzky's book that came out in 1990. Fresh off the 1988 trade he talks a lot about wishing he stayed in Edmonton. Time has healed all wounds, but in that book Gretzky has a tinge of bitterness towards Pocklington. Bottom line, both of these players thought and wanted to retire in the jerseys they were wearing.

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06-13-2013, 05:07 PM
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Killion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Bottom line, both of these players thought and wanted to retire in the jerseys they were wearing.
Well, Im buying that story about Phil Esposito, that he wanted to & should have been afforded the opportunity to retire a Bruin, but Gretzky, an Oiler for Life? No way. Its fairly well documented that 99 had become somewhat enamoured with Celebrity & specifically LA, that he'd outgrown Edmonton.

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06-13-2013, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Phile Esposito's reply:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...=4288%2C177198

leaving Vancouver?
OT: I like the ad under the article for the hockey school:

"For the first time in Canada, progressive Russian teaching methods taught by professional educators."

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06-14-2013, 03:38 PM
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Phil did do Bruins road games for a brief period from about 1999-2001 on TV. I think it's just a situation where he's said so many things that he might be more trouble than it's worth.

Besides, he does the games for Tampa on radio now, correct?

He's liked in Boston, but he doesn't have the beloved status that guys like Orr and Neely have. Part of that might have to do with some of the things he's said over the years.

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06-14-2013, 03:51 PM
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Big Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Well, Im buying that story about Phil Esposito, that he wanted to & should have been afforded the opportunity to retire a Bruin, but Gretzky, an Oiler for Life? No way. Its fairly well documented that 99 had become somewhat enamoured with Celebrity & specifically LA, that he'd outgrown Edmonton.
Phil..........oh yeah, he bled Bruin. But Gretzky's book in 1990: "Gretzky: An Autobiography" is a book that I think tells the truth of the story a lot more. This is two years after the trade, the emotions and opinions are fresh and honest. Here is an example from page 186:

"Looking back on it, the biggest mistake Peter made was not letting me play my four years into free agency. I refused to sign a contract that didn't have a no-trade clause on it and he refused to give me one, so we were stuck. He should have let me play out the four years. As Mike Barnett put it, I would then have been a 31 year old veteran with 14 years on one team. I proably would have been firmly fixed in Edmonton. So Peter could have then said, 'There's the door YOU tell Edmonton you're leaving."

Free agency at that time was 31 years old. Now I know Gretzky did eventually request a trade out of L.A. but that team was in shambles in 1996. Different story from an Oiler dynasty that still had a relatively young nucleus. I doubt Gretzky would have wanted to leave and risk losing the Cups. He was the most marketed player in all of sports in 1988, or close to it. I just can't imagine him leaving on his own free will. In 1990 it appears this is the way he feels too, that he wouldn't have left if at all possible.

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