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  • Home: Los Angeles, CA
  • Stadium: Los Angeles Sports Arena (14,700) 1972-73, Long Beach Sports Arena (11,325) 1973-74
  • Team synopsis: Originally intended to be called the Aces, club changed their name before the inaugural season. They made the playoffs and a quick exit the first season, but moved to Detroit after missing the playoffs the second year. Only name player was future WHA great Marc Tardif.

  • Owned by WHA co-founder Dennis Murphy, the Los Angeles Sharks were one of the 12 initial entries in the WHA. Unfortunately though, the franchise would never live up to the expectations of helping break the ice in California. The state's first taste of hockey was the NHL's LA Kings - Oakland Golden Seals rivalry. The WHA's initial intention was to play off it with one of their own - the Sharks in Los Angeles the Seahawks in San Francisco. But seeing the NHL's Seals fumble around, the WHA pulled out of the Bay Area at the last minute. This would prove to be a prudent move, as the team was relocated to Quebec City, where Les Nordiques would prove to be one of the league's most solid franchises, being one of the four to be assimilated by the NHL for the '79-'80 season. As well, the Golden Seals would become the Cleveland Barons the next year, proving that southern Californians were more interested in surfs than slap shots anyway.

    Without a natural rivalry, the Sharks were biteless. They put the names Ken Dryden and Gilbert Perrault on the preliminary draft sheet, but were unsuccessful in luring either from the NHL. Unable to sign a 'big name' player like Winnipeg, Miami and Cleveland did with Hull, Parent and Cheevers, still had a respectable inaugural outing. Built around seasoned NHL goalie George Gardner and Russ Gillow, who'd spent his entire 4 pro years in the minors, their attention was paid to defence. It resulted in the league's third best goals against, but they placed 10th in scoring. They finished their inaugural season above the .500 mark, third in their division with 37 wins and 80 points. Good enough to get them in the playoffs, they ran into a powerhouse Houston Aeros squad and were taken out in 6 games in the first round.

    During the off-season, they sought to bolster their lineup with the addition of Marc Tardif, a Stanley Cup winner with Les Canadiens. Management hoped to build around his natural goal-scoring ability and that he'd bring his championship experience into the dressing room. Although Tardif led the team with 40 goals & 70 points in the '73-'74 season, the team itself degenerated. They'd acquired Chicago's Jim McLeod in exchange for the rights to Ralph Backstrom in an effort to bolster their goaltending, but the move failed, trying out 5 prospects that year. They finished the year with 30 fewer points scoring the least number of goals along the way. Plagued with defensive problems as bad as their lack of scoring punch, only Vancouver gave up more goals. Finishing dead last, things looked bleak for the Sharks. Murphy sold the team to Peter Shagena and Charles Nolton immediately following the end of the playoffs. Though the league was already planning on trying in the Bay Area again with the San Diego Mariners for the upcoming season, the club's new owners decided to try their hand in an established hockey market, moving the team to Detroit and renaming them the Stags. This move would turn out to be a disaster. A mid-season make over saw the club wind up in Baltimore, where as the Blades they finished the year with another dismal record, then folded.

    Los Angeles Sharks '72-'73
    Bart Crashley JP Leblanc Gerry Odrowski Jim Szura Marc Tardif Gary Veneruzzo

    SEASON W L T P GF GA PIM SEASON FINISH
    1972-1973 37 35 6 80 259 250 1477 ROUND #1: lost to Aeros in 5 games
    1973-1974 25 53 0 50 239 339 1086 missed playoffs

    TIMELINE
    Los Angeles Sharks
    LA Sharks
    Michigan Stags
    Michigan Stags
    Baltimore Blades
    Baltimore Blades
    '72-'74 61 games
    in '74-'75
    final 17 games
    in '74-'75

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