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Calgary would finally be awarded a team in 1975 when advertising tycoon Jim Pattison moved the Vancouver (originally Philadelphia) Blazers after 2 mediocre seasons on the west coast. Unlike their previous stops in Philly and Van, the Cowboys were in a city void of NHL hockey and had a natural rivalry in the Oilers awaiting them. Playing out of the Corral and backed by a 50 goal season from winger Danny Lawson and a stellar sophomore year from Ron Chipperfield, a 'better than most' scoring punch led them to the playoffs their first year, due in part also to Don McLeod's late season hot streak, allowing less than 2 and a half goals per game in the team's last 20 outings. They finished third in the Canadian division and fifth overall. The first season to feature a 4-round playoff system, they were awarded a bye in the first round, then beat the offensively-minded Nordiques in 5 games in the second round. Their run stopped in the semi-finals though, when they were knocked off by a vastly superior Winnipeg team, who'd eventually go on to win the Avco Cup.
Before the beginning of the '76-'77 season, the league saw the folding of two teams, reverting back to 2 divisions. They started the season in an exhibition matchup with Pittsburgh, which the Penguins won easily 7-3. The Cowboys' year was full of ups and downs, mostly the latter. Placing high hopes on goalies Wayne Wood and Gary Bromley (ex of the Buffalo Sabres) to back up McLeod, disappointment set in as none finished the season with a GAA under 3.5. With spotty defense at the best of times, they missed the playoffs - finishing fifth in the West and third worst overall. Their poor play didn't help put people in the seat, and after managing an average of only 4,600 people per game during their 2 seasons, Pattison gave up hope on hockey in Calgary. Unable to convince the city to build a modern arena or meet their self-imposed season tickets sales deadline, he tried to move the club to Ottawa for the next year. But fearing the previous fiascals in Ottawa experienced with the Nationals and Civics would be repeated, the league nixed the move. Unable to court another city in time, the team folded in the summer of '77.
Despite averaging to sell a little better than half of the game's tickets over their 2 year stay in The Corral, Calgary seemed a natural fit for the WHA. Playing off the natural Battle of Alberta rivalry, the Cowboys fared far better than many of it's cohorts and had the added benefit of not being directly rivalled by the NHL. Since Calgary wound up building The Saddledome a few years later anyway when the city was awarded the Atlanta Flames, had the Cowboys managed to pull through and survive another 2 years, they would most likely have been admitted into the NHL along with the Whalers, Jets, Nordiques and Oilers.
|1975-1976||41||35||4||86||307||282||1064||ROUND #1: bye |
ROUND #2: beat Nordiques in 5 games
ROUND #3: lost to Jets in 5 games