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NHL-WHA Merger In 1973

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04-27-2014, 04:32 AM
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PurpleMouse
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NHL-WHA Merger In 1973

It seems there's a lot of interest in the WHA on the history board, which is good because I find the topic fascinating myself.

I read somewhere, I THINK in "The Rebel League" that Flyers owner Ed Snider proposed at the end of the 1972-73 season the NHL & WHA merge. If I remember correctly this was shot down more due to bitter NHL owners than reluctance on the part of the WHA teams. But let's assume for the sake of this thread that NHL owners agreed that they were willing to merge with the WHA- but DIDN"T necessarily agree on what franchises to admit and how to go about doing it.

Of course when the leagues merged in 1979 Cincinnati & Birmingham folded, and New England (Hartford), Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Quebec ended up moving into the NHL. What would the merger have looked like in 1973? There are plenty of over arching questions for discussion here, but let's first look at the franchises themselves.

Not only did the Whalers/Nords/Oilers/Jets all join the NHL, they were the only four franchises to exist from start to finish in the new league. So on the surface it would appear they would be slam dunks to join the NHL after a 1973 merger. But perhaps not. Let's go through this more or less team by team....

NEW YORK RAIDERS & PHILADELPHIA BLAZERS
The Blazers moved after season one, and the Raiders were renamed the Golden Blades after season one, before moving in season two. The Golden Blades stayed in the same general area, going to New Jersey, but a move is a move. Given that the merger in 1979 saw two teams bought out, I have a hard team seeing these two teams who ended up moving AND were based in NHL markets living to see 1973. (Even though the Raiders stayed in NY at season's end, the fact that they were renamed indicates the financial problems were probably prevalent already.) In real life the teams moved, but I'm thinking in this fantasy scenario the owners would have been bought out, unless anyone has any information about the owners of the club to say otherwise. The Canucks certainly wouldn't have allowed the Blazers to move to Vancouver, and the Rangers, Islanders, and Flyers probably wouldn't have liked the presence of the Blades in Jersey.


OTTAWA NATIONALS
The Nationals were the other team in the WHA to move in the first two seasons, leaving to Toronto after season one. In theory, we could write these guys out and assume they'd be bought out like the Raiders/Blazers- again, they certainly weren't going to move into an NHL market like they did in 1973- but the one difference here is that in theory an NHL franchise would be more of a draw than the WHA for the fans of Ottawa. Could that have enticed the Nationals owners to hold on?


LOS ANGELES SHARKS, CHICAGO COUGARS & MINNESOTA FIGHTING SAINTS
These are three teams that came into markets that the NHL was already in. The Sharks folded after two years, the Cougars lasted three, and the Saints folded after four, briefly re-emerged and then folded again. One would assume the resistance from the NHL clubs in those cities would do everything in their power to wipe these teams out, but in theory the markets they were in could potentially support a second team. Chicago has two MLB teams, the LA area would eventually get a second NHL team... Minnesota has never had two teams in any sport, but you could make the case that the Stars were Minneaopolis's team and the Saints were St. Paul's team. Also, if the Sharks survived, what would San Jose's NHL team be called today?

If nothing else, the perservence of these teams would indicate the owners had deep pockets and were having some success (the Saints in particular- they actually outdrew the Stars on many occasions.) Could these owners have been kept in the league under the condition they had to relocate? What markets could have supported teams that were unserved at this time?


CLEVELAND CRUSADERS & HOUSTON AEROS
These two franchises are perhaps the most interesting to discuss. Both clubs were in somewhat big markets that to this day remain untouched by the NHL (well... we'll get to Cleveland shortly). The Crusaders moved to Minnesota after four years, while the Aeros stuck around for six of the seven seasons and were right there in terms of stability most of the way with the four who WOULD go into the NHL.

I'd have to think that if the leagues merged in '73, the Crusaders would have been very likely to get into the NHL and the Aeros would have been an absolute lock. What would the long term feasibility of Cleveland been like? In the end, the Crusaders ended up moving to the Richfield Coliseum, a palace built way out of town on the assumption the city would grow in that direction (which never happened). That seemed to do in the Crusaders, who were replaced by the NHL's Cleveland Barons, who also couldn't make it work. It's quite likely this exact same situation would have unfolded in the NHL. The Barons merged with the North Stars... perhaps it would have been the Crusaders merging with the Stars instead. But if Cleveland is unavailable, where do the Seals move to?

We can only speculate at how Houston would have held up long term as an NHL franchise.


NEW ENGLAND WHALERS
The defending champions of the league at the time of his hypothetical merger. When the Whalers entered the NHL, they were playing out of Hartford, and the Bruins made them change their name to specifically reflect this fact. The Whalers spent their first year sharing the Garden with the Bruins, and were successful at both the gate and on the ice. One would think the Bruins would want zero part of the NHL Whalers at the Garden- but perhaps it could have worked, as Boston had two MLB teams for a time, so maybe two NHL teams would have as well. The Whalers didn't move to Hartford until the 1974-75 season... were the wheels in motion for that move already in 1973? If they weren't, what would have happened to the Whalers if this option hadn't been explored?


QUEBEC NORDIQUES, EDMONTON OILERS, AND WINNIPEG JETS
The other three teams who did in fact enter the NHL in 1979. If you clicked on this thread to read it, there's a good chance you know the hassle these clubs had gaining approval from the three Canadian NHL teams who didn't want to lose their tv revenues. I don't know the landscape of tv rights in such- would it actually have been EASIER for these teams to win over the other Canadian teams and gain entry into the NHL in 1973? I'm sure fans in WHA cities would have been driven to boycott Molson/do whatever they had to do to get their clubs into the NHL just like they did in 1979.

So that's a team by team look.... now for some other questions.


NHL ROSTERS
What would teams have looked like in 1973-74 had this deal gone down? Given that the WHA was not as worn down as they were in 1979, I"m thinking the WHA would have made a better deal in terms of how many players they could hold on to. I'm thinking that if WHA teams had entered under the same conditions as they did in 1979, it would have been bad news for the NHL's "second six" and the Flyers in particular- if the NHL clubs were reclaiming departed stars from the WHA, do the Flyers still break through, or are teams like the Habs, Bruins, and Rangers too deep? Speaking of the Flyers...


FIGHTING IN HOCKEY
"Goon" hockey became the thing in the 70's, and it was mainly so for two reasons: the rise of the Flyers in the NHL and the WHA. But with the WHA never really getting off the ground, and the Flyers perhaps not achieving the same success (see above), do we ever go through that era at all?


NHL EXPANSION
The NHL expanded to Kansas City & Washington in 1974. Does anyone know when those franchises were handed out? If they were already in place, would the NHL try to cancel that expansion? If it wasn't in place, would those cities have gained clubs from relocation of WHA teams? What about the cancelled expansion the NHL was supposed to have to Denver/Seattle? Does that go through, given the NHL would (in theory) be more stable without a competing WHA or does the league end up being MORE of a mess because of the all the teams it was trying to sustain?


EUROPEANS IN THE NHL
In 1973 there were little to no impact European stars playing in North America. While some names would make their way to the NHL through the decade, it was really the WHA that was leading the way in terms of bringing these players over. Does that still happen if these WHA clubs are in the old boys network of the NHL?


GORDIE HOWE
Howe came into the WHA in 1973 with the Aeros to play with his sons. That might not have been so easy had the Aeros been in the NHL at this time. For one, the NHL's draft age was 20, and neither Mark or Marty were old enough to play in the league. Had Howe waited until they were old enough, would he have merely landed where they were drafted? And wouldn't Detroit still hold his rights? Speaking of young players....


DRAFT AGE
The NHL lowered the draft age from 20 to 18 in 1979. This was likely done in response to the fact that young players were rampantly playing in the WHA. Had the WHA never given young players the chance to prosper, would the age ever have been lowered? If it doesn't, does Gretzky wait to enter the NHL? It would be impossible to speculate who would have been in position to draft him when the time came.


DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT
This would depend on the teams that entered the NHL from the WHA, but what could divisions have looked like? This is actually more of an interesting question than it appears on the surface. The WHA was actually ahead of the curve of actually having logical divisions based on geography. So the NHL could have gone three ways with this: 1) make divisions based on geography like the WHA did, 2) make completely random divisions seemingly based on strength (which is what the NHL did throughout the 70's) OR... 3) shift a few teams from the NHL over to a WHA "conference" similiar to what the NFL did with the Colts/Steelers/Browns post NFL-AFL merger. So the league could have grown with two conferences, not themselves based on geography, but with divisions inside them based as such. An NHL & WHA conference.


RESERVE CLAUSE
I'm assuming the WHA opened pandora's box with the merger in terms of contracts, but what concessions do NHL owners try to pull back now that they are back in full control?


As I mentioned above, I have an interest in the WHA, and this may be one of those what-ifs with TOO many possibilities as there's not a realistic way to do a projection. Nonetheless, interesting to think about and look forward to seeing some scenarios!

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04-27-2014, 09:55 AM
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If nothing else, the perservence of these teams would indicate the owners had deep pockets and were having some success (the Saints in particular- they actually outdrew the Stars on many occasions.) Could these owners have been kept in the league under the condition they had to relocate?


My wife was the bookkeeper for the Saints for their first two years in the WHA. Deep pockets? Ya sure.

Sarcasm.


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04-27-2014, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by PurpleMouse View Post

1) NEW YORK RAIDERS
2) PHILADELPHIA BLAZERS
3) OTTAWA NATIONALS
4) LOS ANGELES SHARKS
5) CHICAGO COUGARS &
6) MINNESOTA FIGHTING SAINTS
7) CLEVELAND CRUSADERS
8) HOUSTON AEROS
9) NEW ENGLAND WHALERS
10) QUEBEC NORDIQUES
11) EDMONTON OILERS
12) WINNIPEG JETS
13) NHL ROSTERS
14) FIGHTING IN HOCKEY
15) NHL EXPANSION
16) EUROPEANS IN THE NHL
17) GORDIE HOWE
18) DRAFT AGE
19) DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT
20) RESERVE CLAUSE
Ya, I cant imagine that a merger or Amalgamation would ever have happened that early, circa 73/74, though that was the plan of the braintrust behind the formation of the WHA in the first place. Modeled after the ABA, the same individuals & architects involved with the addition of Bill Hunter, Ben Hatskin & others who had been denied NHL entry through Expansion. The Franchise fee's about 1/4 that of the NHL's, ownership vetting, pretty much everything loose, flying by the seats of their pants.

1-12) WHA Franchises; I could see a scenario whereby Cleveland, Houston & New England get in, Edmonton, Winnipeg & Quebec in Canada. Ottawa, the other US based teams, no. Variety of reasons.... Even as is, I have serious doubts Edmonton would make the cut and Cleveland due to Richfield, location, highly questionable that they'd survive, likely have to Relocate. Even still, you really have to wonder if QC, Wpg/Edm do make it at all. Between Ballard, the Habs & Vancouver, theyd be screaming Blue Murder. Cut right into their Broadcast Revs' etc. All of these teams would be made to dig, coming up with substantial Amalgamation Fee's that none of them really had. Unsustainable even if they did have it.

13) NHL Rosters; Im quite certain the NHL wouldve demanded that any & all WHA Player Contracts be declared null & void, rights reverting back to the NHL Clubs, an Amalgamation or Expansion Draft format orchestrated, the WHA Clubs not allowed to protect any players, not even the 2 skaters & goaltenders they were allotted in 1979.

14) Fighting in Hockey; yes, we wouldve seen the rise in fighting regardless of whether or not the WHA had ever come into existence or not, though its rise was hurried along somewhat with the creation of the WHA & competition for players/talent. There simply wasnt enough of it to go around, the great equalizer & common denominator? Violence. Had to fill arenas with paying customer, win by your fists. Gone the old Sponsorship Model from Junior on up, the Jr Clubs as well in order to survive having to fill their arenas, sell tickets & sponsorships, WIN. Whole new business model & game.

The NHL itself had already Expanded far too quickly in 67/68 & 70, throughout the 70's fighting a rear~guard action in further over-hasty Expansion in blocking the WHA from what they considered NHL Markets. They awarded an Expansion Team to Long Island to block WHA incursion in New York (the Islanders losing money hand over fist in every single year of their existence ever since) and then threw in Atlanta to balance Divisional Play (and they also had a new arena, blocking further WHA incursions).

15) Expansion; KC, Denver, WA & Seattle would not have gone through nor happened at all. Was a forward action by the NHL to block WHA incursion, the standard for entry into the NHL not the greatest and even at that Seattle couldnt get it together despite being awarded a franchise conditionally. Sordid story really. Passed on buying the Penguins who were in Bankruptcy Court, and passed on buying a WHA Franchise etc. Complicated... Indeed, the guy behind the Seattle bid wound up suing the NHL & the Vancouver Canucks in a case that took nearly 10yrs to wind its way through the courts, losing in 1986, Courts siding with the NHL. KC was a nightmare from the get-go, Denver simply wasnt NHL ready & still to this day struggles, so of that lot the only ones that mightve made it in & survived would be Washington.

16) Europeans in the NHL; yes, that was going to happen anyway, as with Expansion talent had to be found & with the Summit Series along with World Championships illustrating that not only was the Russian & European Game quite excellent, so too were the players. Salming really put to rest once & for all that Swedes & Finns were unable to handle the physicality & grueling schedule of North American Hockey, and of course the Jets of the WHA, team built around the speed & artistry of the European Game.

17) Gordie Howe; yes, his rights in 73 would have reverted to Red Wings, and he wouldve stayed retired Im certain. Mark & Marty Howe Drafted, but not likely by the same NHL team. Even if they were, moot. There wouldnt have been a Gordie Howe playing with his kids in the NHL.

18) Draft Age; the NHL lowered their age of eligibility for 2 reasons. The first was because of a Court Challenge brought on by Ken Linesman, the second because the WHA was indeed grabbing 18yr olds, Junior rosters depleted, playing pro in many cases far too early, careers wrecked as a result. Gretzky wouldve been Drafted just like everyone else absent the WHA.

19) Divisional Alignment;
Id imagine it would be Geographical. Travel costs. Burnout. Even as it was, the Seals & LA seriously up against it despite some decent rosters.

20) Reserve Clause; I believe the NHL would have absolutely insisted it be reinforced. Any & all player contracts reverting to the original NHL contract holders, the abolishment of 18yr olds who would be returned to Junior, the Linesman challenge never happening.


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04-27-2014, 12:45 PM
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Cleveland in the NHL

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Originally Posted by PurpleMouse View Post
It seems there's a lot of interest in the WHA on the history board, which is good because I find the topic fascinating myself.

CLEVELAND CRUSADERS & HOUSTON AEROS
These two franchises are perhaps the most interesting to discuss. Both clubs were in somewhat big markets that to this day remain untouched by the NHL (well... we'll get to Cleveland shortly). The Crusaders moved to Minnesota after four years, while the Aeros stuck around for six of the seven seasons and were right there in terms of stability most of the way with the four who WOULD go into the NHL.

I'd have to think that if the leagues merged in '73, the Crusaders would have been very likely to get into the NHL and the Aeros would have been an absolute lock. What would the long term feasibility of Cleveland been like? In the end, the Crusaders ended up moving to the Richfield Coliseum, a palace built way out of town on the assumption the city would grow in that direction (which never happened). That seemed to do in the Crusaders, who were replaced by the NHL's Cleveland Barons, who also couldn't make it work. It's quite likely this exact same situation would have unfolded in the NHL. The Barons merged with the North Stars... perhaps it would have been the Crusaders merging with the Stars instead. But if Cleveland is unavailable, where do the Seals move to?

We can only speculate at how Houston would have held up long term as an NHL franchise.

As I mentioned above, I have an interest in the WHA, and this may be one of those what-ifs with TOO many possibilities as there's not a realistic way to do a projection. Nonetheless, interesting to think about and look forward to seeing some scenarios!
What we saw with the Barons does not convince me that an NHL team cannot survive - if not thrive - in Cleveland. Remember, the Barons arrived on August 26, 1976, with the formal announcement of the move of the Seals to Cleveland. Imagine the difficulties there would have been trying to drum up interest, media attention, and - most important of all - sell tickets, with such short notice, before the start of the 1976-77 season. That inauspicious start and the poor performance of the team on the ice were two good reasons for that franchise to founder there.

I was in attendance for the WHA All Star game at Richfield Coliseum. There were more than 15,000 people with me. Surely, those people could have been convinced to return, if there were a competitive NHL team, and proper promotion was done.

Both Cleveland and Houston would have been successful franchises, in the right hands, in my opinion.

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04-27-2014, 01:21 PM
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Both Cleveland and Houston would have been successful franchises, in the right hands, in my opinion.
No small amount of history between Cleveland & the NHL going back to the mid-40's.... actually invited to join the NHL by Norris, had a decent & new building that'd opened in 1938 & so on. By the late 40's & through the 50's early 60's, their own farm system. Quite fascinating really. When they were interested in joining in the 50's, and actually announced by Campbell that they likely would be, all kinds of shenanigans went on, the NHL moving the goalposts all over the ice on them. Lawsuits threatened, Cleveland disgruntled & angered, demanding their AHL Club be allowed to "Challenge" for the Stanley Cup.... so ya, coulda been the misnomer as it is of Original 6 to being Original 7 from WW2 onward. As it was however that franchise the most successful minor pro organization in the history of the AHL. They too having a Golden Era in the 50's & 60's.

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04-27-2014, 02:27 PM
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Yeah, Houston, to this day, is a market that would be tailor made for the NHL. Wonder it hasn't happened yet.

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04-27-2014, 03:08 PM
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^^^ Les Alexander. Came very close to acquiring the Edmonton Oilers in the mid 90's after Pocklington found himself right up the creek. Literally 30 minutes away from buying & moving the team to Houston. Les controls the Toyota Center & ever since has not shown much interest in revisiting the possibility of landing a team for that market, and without him & the building, wont happen.... Wouldve made for a complete wipeout of the WHA refugee's. Winnipeg, Quebec, Hartford and Edmonton all fatally shot through the Amalgamation Agreement in 79, three succumbing years later, only Edmonton surviving.

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04-28-2014, 03:30 AM
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The Alexander situation is bizarre... you'd have to think that someone would be like to move a team into Houston but the city is essentially locked out, which is a shame as I think it would be a good market.

As for Cleveland...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IMLACHnME View Post
What we saw with the Barons does not convince me that an NHL team cannot survive - if not thrive - in Cleveland.
I don't doubt that it could work today downtown... but wasn't it the Coliseum that helped do in the Crusaders and Barons? Likewise the Crusaders would have still moved to Richfield post-merge and may have encountered the same problems. And then they would presumably be where they are today, a market that could work but doesn't seem to have anyone pushing for it either. (I wasn't there and you were, so feel free to correct me as I'm sure you have some interesting tales from those days )

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14) Fighting in Hockey; yes, we wouldve seen the rise in fighting regardless of whether or not the WHA had ever come into existence or not, though its rise was hurried along somewhat with the creation of the WHA & competition for players/talent. There simply wasnt enough of it to go around, the great equalizer & common denominator? Violence. Had to fill arenas with paying customer, win by your fists. Gone the old Sponsorship Model from Junior on up, the Jr Clubs as well in order to survive having to fill their arenas, sell tickets & sponsorships, WIN. Whole new business model & game.
Perhaps so.... although if only six teams came over from the WHA, and the Washington/KC expansion doesn't happen, we would have a 22 team NHL as opposed to the combined 34 "big league" teams we'd have in 74-75. Given how much talent was held down pre second 6 expansion (kind of discussed in another thread here), the doors opening to Europe, and even a trickle of Americans coming in... the league wouldn't be as watered down as some claim. I suppose it's hard to imagine some of those goons not making their way through but perhaps it wouldn't have been as prevalent.

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Passed on buying the Penguins who were in Bankruptcy Court, and passed on buying a WHA Franchise etc. Complicated... Indeed, the guy behind the Seattle bid wound up suing the NHL & the Vancouver Canucks in a case that took nearly 10yrs to wind its way through the courts, losing in 1986, Courts siding with the NHL.
Hmm... Seattle Penguins after all?


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16) Europeans in the NHL; yes, that was going to happen anyway, as with Expansion talent had to be found & with the Summit Series along with World Championships illustrating that not only was the Russian & European Game quite excellent, so too were the players.
Makes sense. I guess the only potential difference is if the Jets were turned away in the hypothetical merger, who leads the way bringing in imports? Given that Salming was in Toronto, maybe the Leafs... as hilarious as it is to imagine Harold Ballard fronting any sort of progress.

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19) Divisional Alignment; [/B]Id imagine it would be Geographical. Travel costs. Burnout. Even as it was, the Seals & LA seriously up against it despite some decent rosters.
I know that the NHL would have the desire to basically take a leak all over WHA franchises, but in they brought in 8 teams, they could have just shifted the most recent four teams (Buffalo, Vancouver, Atlanta, and NY Islanders) over to make two twelve team "leagues". (Which wouldn't have made sense from a competitive point of view, but would keep in line with the ideology of putting all the newbies together like was done in 1967.)

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20) Reserve Clause; I believe the NHL would have absolutely insisted it be reinforced. Any & all player contracts reverting to the original NHL contract holders, the abolishment of 18yr olds who would be returned to Junior, the Linesman challenge never happening.
I would agree... you would have to think that the NHL eventually would have brought down on this front... perhaps as a trickle down effect of free agency coming to baseball?

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04-28-2014, 09:49 AM
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The Alexander situation is bizarre... you'd have to think that someone would be like to move a team into Houston but the city is essentially locked out, which is a shame as I think it would be a good market.

As for Cleveland...

I don't doubt that it could work today downtown... but wasn't it the Coliseum that helped do in the Crusaders and Barons? Likewise the Crusaders would have still moved to Richfield post-merge and may have encountered the same problems. And then they would presumably be where they are today, a market that could work but doesn't seem to have anyone pushing for it either. (I wasn't there and you were, so feel free to correct me as I'm sure you have some interesting tales from those days )
I agree with your first point. The arena is there, downtown, ready to go; the Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cavaliers and the Monsters. If Denver and Atlanta deserved a second chance, Cleveland certainly does. I would put a team in there before any other city awaiting an NHL franchise. Maybe Killion and I can go halfs on a team, and put it there.

That WHA All Star game I mentioned above was on a Tuesday night, and, as I said, more than 15,000 hockey fans found their way to Richfield. Had the Barons arrived with proper time for promotion, and had been - in fact - properly promoted, I believe that many of those same people could have been convinced to return. Had the Barons been a competitive team, it's for sure they would have done so.

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04-28-2014, 12:13 PM
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OTTAWA NATIONALS
The Nationals were the other team in the WHA to move in the first two seasons, leaving to Toronto after season one. In theory, we could write these guys out and assume they'd be bought out like the Raiders/Blazers- again, they certainly weren't going to move into an NHL market like they did in 1973- but the one difference here is that in theory an NHL franchise would be more of a draw than the WHA for the fans of Ottawa. Could that have enticed the Nationals owners to hold on?
The NHL would have had zero interest in having a team in Ottawa. Even by the standards of the 70s/80s, the Ottawa Civic Centre would not have been sufficient for a long-term home arena for a NHL team, and there were no other realistic options at the time. In 1982 when Peter Gilbert was shopping around the Colorado Rockies here, the only proposal Ottawa could muster was a longshot plan to expand the Nepean Sportsplex that likely never would've got off the ground.

To be honest, I don't think the NHL really wanted Ottawa when they gave them a franchise in 1990. It was all about who could pay their ridiculously high expansion fee. Location was secondary.

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04-28-2014, 12:32 PM
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The NHL would have had zero interest in having a team in Ottawa. Even by the standards of the 70s/80s, the Ottawa Civic Centre would not have been sufficient for a long-term home arena for a NHL team... To be honest, I don't think the NHL really wanted Ottawa when they gave them a franchise in 1990. It was all about who could pay their ridiculously high expansion fee. Location was secondary.
Yes I agree. Decidedly smaller market. The Expansion Fee was $50M with both Ron Joyce in Hamilton (Copps Coliseum) and Peter Karmanos' in a competing bid against Phil Esposito's group in Tampa balking at that amount, offering instead $25M. Only Ottawa & Tampa (Phil Esposito winding up partnered with a front who's $$$ could be traced back to the infamous Japanese Yakuza & who as you'll recall rather hilariously played out of the Thunderdome while their arena was being built). Additionally Seattle was good to go, however as I recently posted on the Business of Hockey Board....

In 1989 the NHL announced it would be expanding in 1992. Backed by Microsofts' Chris Larson, former Seattle Totem Bill MacFarland spearheaded the bid when low & behold, Bill Ackerley, son of Seattle Supersonics' owner & Manager of Key Arena Barry Ackerley enters with a competing bid of their own. Well, one thing leads to another, Larson, MacFarland & the Ackerleys pool their resources, join forces, good to go, right? The Expansion Fee was $50M and they had to show that they were capable of carrying costs for 5yrs, which was no problem, and additionally, they had plans to build a new state of the art arena replacing Key which was nearly 20yrs old, of a former generation, requiring major upgrades & renovations. Summer/fall of 1990 Larson & MacFarland make a brilliant written presentation to the NHL, all impressed, loving the idea that wow, Microsoft, new age money, Seattle ascendant, fabulous market, ideal, lets get it on! Pat Quinn was involved, and his inside sources told him Seattle was a lock.

Early December 1990, Larson, MacFarland, Barry Ackerley & an Ackerley financial advisor by the name of Bill Lear arrive on the NHL's doorstep along with other hopeful applicants to make their verbal pitch to the NHL Board of Governors. Theyve all 4 strategized & rehearsed every line, got their acts together, waiting nervously for their chance to present themselves & shine when totally unrehearsed and out of nowhere, Barry Ackerley & Bill Lear tell Gil Stein (VP & Genl Counsel of the NHL at that time) who had come to escort them into the Boardroom that they would first, just Ackerley & Lear, like to talk to the Board of Governors "privately". Larson & MacFarland didnt know what was going on or why, last minute, but they trusted Ackerley & Lear, reluctantly said ok fine. We'll just wait here patiently, but obviously concerned, wondering what the Hell this is all about...

Ten minutes later, Gil Stein comes out of the Boardroom & tells them that Ackerley & Lear had withdrawn Seattles application, no reason given, then left the Boardroom via another exit & eff'd off back to Seattle leaving Larson & MacFarland absolutely stunned!.... They were permitted to present their verbal presentation, however quite naively the legal application had been put into Ackerleys name so it was an exercise in futility..... And so it begs the question; "Why"? Why the charade, the duplicity, deceit & backstabbing, then gutlessly amscray through a backdoor?... All about the arena. Ackerley wanted Key Arena updated & upgraded and was simply using Larson & MacFarland along with the NHL itself as leverage against the City of Seattle & King County. Either drop $100M on reno's to the building or we'll build a brand new arena & leave Key vacated. Vacant.... Charming story yes?

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04-28-2014, 02:12 PM
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Ben Hatskin was the original owner of the Winnipeg Jets and co-founded the WHA. He attempted to have Winnipeg join the NHL as part of the 1970 expansion.... (might have been the 1967 expansion).
Clarence Campbell asked for a 5M expansion fee along with a guarantee that Winnipeg would play in no less than a 15,000 arena. At the time, the Winnipeg Arena only held around 10,000 seats but was expanded to 15,500 seats when the Jets joined the NHL in 1979.

Hatskin couldn't raise the 5M or get approval to have the Winnipeg Arena expanded. A couple years later..... Hatskin co-founded the WHA with Bill Hunter.

One would imagine if Hatskin gained entrance to the NHL back in 1970, that the WHA may never have existed.

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04-28-2014, 02:32 PM
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That WHA All Star game I mentioned above was on a Tuesday night, and, as I said, more than 15,000 hockey fans found their way to Richfield. Had the Barons arrived with proper time for promotion, and had been - in fact - properly promoted, I believe that many of those same people could have been convinced to return. Had the Barons been a competitive team, it's for sure they would have done so.
Certainly team strength helps in terms of attendance... but the all-star game may not be the best metric for consistent attendance given that it's a special one of a kind event. The Cavs played at the Coliseum too did they not? How did they do attendance wise? They certainly had a strong team to help in the late 80's/early 90's if I recall correctly.

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Ten minutes later, Gil Stein comes out of the Boardroom & tells them that Ackerley & Lear had withdrawn Seattles application, no reason given, then left the Boardroom via another exit & eff'd off back to Seattle leaving Larson & MacFarland absolutely stunned!.... They were permitted to present their verbal presentation, however quite naively the legal application had been put into Ackerleys name so it was an exercise in futility..... And so it begs the question; "Why"? Why the charade, the duplicity, deceit & backstabbing, then gutlessly amscray through a backdoor?... All about the arena. Ackerley wanted Key Arena updated & upgraded and was simply using Larson & MacFarland along with the NHL itself as leverage against the City of Seattle & King County. Either drop $100M on reno's to the building or we'll build a brand new arena & leave Key vacated. Vacant.... Charming story yes?
Unfortunate for Seattle but perhaps ultimately satisfying for the people of Ottawa.

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One would imagine if Hatskin gained entrance to the NHL back in 1970, that the WHA may never have existed.
And Edmonton and Calgary would have been on an island, at least for a time, without NHL hockey sandwiched between Vancouver & Winnipeg.

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04-28-2014, 10:23 PM
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Ben Hatskin was the original owner of the Winnipeg Jets and co-founded the WHA. He attempted to have Winnipeg join the NHL as part of the 1970 expansion.... (might have been the 1967 expansion).... One would imagine if Hatskin gained entrance to the NHL back in 1970, that the WHA may never have existed.
Ya, Ben Hatskin was a really colorful figure and your quite right, had attempted to get things going during the 2nd Expansion of 1970 but as posted, couldnt get it together. Campbell telling him he'd need a 16,000 seat arena and 7.2 Million Dollars. WHA likely never wouldve happened had he managed to pull it off. But, theres a reason for everything, and in starting the WHA, a lot of good came of it, even as short lived as it was... I think he along with Hunter should be inducted into the HHOF, albeit seriously posthumously now but better late than never. Hatskin's already been inducted into the WHA HOF, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, the Winnipeg Business Hall of Fame and received numerous other honors & awards. Life lived full.

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04-29-2014, 12:08 AM
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Ya, Ben Hatskin was a really colorful figure and your quite right, had attempted to get things going during the 2nd Expansion of 1970 but as posted, couldnt get it together. Campbell telling him he'd need a 16,000 seat arena and 7.2 Million Dollars. WHA likely never wouldve happened had he managed to pull it off. But, theres a reason for everything, and in starting the WHA, a lot of good came of it, even as short lived as it was... I think he along with Hunter should be inducted into the HHOF, albeit seriously posthumously now but better late than never. Hatskin's already been inducted into the WHA HOF, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, the Winnipeg Business Hall of Fame and received numerous other honors & awards. Life lived full.
When I was in my early teens, I delivered the newspaper to the Hatskins. They lived on the upper floor of a duplex on Scotia St.

He and his wife were terrific people.

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04-29-2014, 06:54 AM
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Ya, Ben Hatskin was a really colorful figure and your quite right, had attempted to get things going during the 2nd Expansion of 1970 but as posted, couldnt get it together. Campbell telling him he'd need a 16,000 seat arena and 7.2 Million Dollars. WHA likely never wouldve happened had he managed to pull it off. But, theres a reason for everything, and in starting the WHA, a lot of good came of it, even as short lived as it was... I think he along with Hunter should be inducted into the HHOF, albeit seriously posthumously now but better late than never. Hatskin's already been inducted into the WHA HOF, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, the Winnipeg Business Hall of Fame and received numerous other honors & awards. Life lived full.
Right... 7.2M was the going rate to gain entrance into the NHL in 1970. Ben Hatskin's family left eastern Europe in the winter of 1911 headed for England with intent to gain passage to North America. They filled their horse carriage with everything they owned and headed west. The winter in Europe back in 1911 was quite brutal and the trip to England took longer than expected. Alas, when they arrived in England the ship they planned to board (The Titanic) had already left port. The family took a different ship a few days later. Ben Hatskin was born 5 years later.

(Taken from the book "Back in the Bigs" by Randy Turner).

As you stated... "Everything happens for a reason".

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04-29-2014, 10:10 PM
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^^^ Wow. Incredible. Dont think youd wanna be boarding the Titanic with your family & every worldly possession for your journey to the New World & a New Life huh? No wonder they emigrated to Winnipeg. About as far from the Atlantic or Pacific as you can get. Im aware that Ben Hatskins father did fairly well, manufactured wooden & corrugated cardboard packing boxes. Not very romantic I guess but hey.... Ben Hatskin a multiple Grey Cup winner as a player, had also played some hockey, big guy, got into horse racing, vending machine business, numerous activities. Founded & sponsored the Junior Winnipeg Jets & a top tier Jr. League in Manitoba prior to forming the WHA & forming the Jets and of course as the front man, dealing with Bobby Hull, getting him to sign, instant~credibility.

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04-29-2014, 10:24 PM
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[B]My wife was the bookkeeper for the Saints for their first two years in the WHA.....
Dont know if youve ever seen this before mbh, came across it recently....
Documentary on the Saints, app 11mins in length: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGlY4hGnpwo

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04-29-2014, 11:31 PM
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Dont know if youve ever seen this before mbh, came across it recently....
Documentary on the Saints, app 11mins in length: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGlY4hGnpwo
I have seen it and I'm briefly in it, along the boards at the 3:00 and 3:10 mark. I worked the first game and the last game in the Saints history.

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04-30-2014, 01:02 AM
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I have seen it and I'm briefly in it, along the boards at the 3:00 and 3:10 mark. I worked the first game and the last game in the Saints history.
I wondered if that might be you. ...

Rather an interesting rink, arena in the first portion of the video.
Glass boards, and the surface appears a bit undersized no?

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04-30-2014, 07:10 AM
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Rather an interesting rink, arena in the first portion of the video.
Glass boards, and the surface appears a bit undersized no?
The rink was regulation 200' x 85'. As for the glass boards, they were first used in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France and when the rink was built in St. Paul, they came up with that idea. Personally, I didn't care for them.

http://video.search.yahoo.com/video/...ts&age=0&&tt=b

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04-30-2014, 04:18 PM
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Once in a lifetime event

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Certainly team strength helps in terms of attendance... but the all-star game may not be the best metric for consistent attendance given that it's a special one of a kind event. The Cavs played at the Coliseum too did they not? How did they do attendance wise? They certainly had a strong team to help in the late 80's/early 90's if I recall correctly..
That all star game certainly was a "special one of a kind event." In fact, I did then and do now consider it a once in a lifetime event. Which is why I took the time to make that drive, during the week no less.

Imagine, two of hockey's greatest stars participated: Mr. Hockey and the Golden Jet. At that point, they were demonstrating that they were still terrific players. Not too many rungs below them would be "The Big 'M.'" Add Dave Keon, Pat Stapleton and Gerry Cheevers.

Anyone then familiar with the WHA, as I was, would have been excited to see live the likes of Real Cloutier, Hull's linemates and Howe's sons.

To be honest, for me, the fact that Richfield Coliseum was half an hour outside of Cleveland was actually a selling point. The location of "The Aud" had always been a turnoff.

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04-30-2014, 04:37 PM
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To be honest, for me, the fact that Richfield Coliseum was half an hour outside of Cleveland was actually a selling point. The location of "The Aud" had always been a turnoff.
... the Aud in Buffalo in 2007 or so, before she came down;



... more here: http://www.roadwolf.ca/blog/?p=30

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