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Ever witness the WHA experience live?
See a great goal or one of the many bench-clearing brawls?
Click here & share your memories of the original hockey rebels

The very first pro hockey game I saw was while on a school field trip - the Toronto Toros visiting the Edmonton Oilers. Jacques Plante (I think - not sure since I was only 9 or 10) helped teach me it wasn't just the Maple Laffs I was born to hate ... :)
Dan Brisebois

Can still see Barry Melrose punching a guy or two!!!! and Robbie and Mark helping out! (Cincinnati Stingers). Hated to see the Jets, Quebec, and N.E. Whalers move!! Maybe someday, they will return! I shall never forget the WHA!!!!!!
Andreux

Awesome site! I watched the Cowboys for one season in Calgary and love the league for bringing pro hockey to western Canada.
Lexus Sakic

I saw my first WHA game at Boston Garden in January of 1974. The Cleveland Crusaders played the New England Whalers in a Saturday matinee. I also saw the Toronto Toros play three different times at hockey's greatest shrine-Maple Leaf Gardens. January 10, 1975 against the San Diego Mariners, April 4, 1975 against the Winnipeg Jets and Bobby Hull and then April 6, 1975 against the Houston Aeros featuring the Howe family. Harold Ballard of the Leafs nickle-and-dimed the Toros so that owner Johnny Bassett (Ballard's former partner in the Leafs' ownership) was forced to move to Birmingham, Alabama despite drawing crowds in the 9-10,000 range at MLG. It was wide-open hockey. Very entertaining.
Terry Proctor

Fantastic website! Brings back a lot of great memories. It takes me back over 30 years ago when I was a kid and followed my favorite team, the Cleveland Crusaders.
Ron Rositani

Former WHA player for the Cincinnati Stingers and the Hartford Whalers. Had 50 goal season for Cincinnati and 2 in the NHL for Hartford. Nice work. A lot of fun reliving some great memories of the league.
Blaine Stoughton

I still have a Philadelphia Blazers puck my dad gave me. Thanks for the memories!
Mike

Brought back a lot of fond memories. I graduated in 1972 and went to a lot of Saints games and bought souvenier jerseys(that I still own), etc. in hopes that if we could drive over 150 miles to see a game, the local people would come out and support the team as well. I enjoyed the site and will come back for more info-funny how much a person forgets over time until something jogs their memory, which your site did. Thank-you.
Pryce

I was 14 years old when I went to the New England Whalers first home game vs the Blazers in 1972. We drove from Hartford (my home town) to Boston which at that time was quite a distance for a family of five boys. We had made the trip many times to the Garden for Bruins/Habs tilts. Man how I wish I had those ticket stubs or the program guide. All my father kept talking about on the way to the game was Derek Sanderson and Bernie Parent and how they left the NHL for the WHA. He was a huge Bruins fan. Little did I know at that time how much the WHA would mean to me later on in life. When the Whalers eventually moved to Hartford in 75 it was a like a dream come true cause all I had to do was walk 8 blocks to see the Whale, the cheap tickets were $3.75 at the Hartford Civic Center. Christ that was a lot of money to me at the time. When the Whalers moved after the '97 season it ripped the soul out of us in Hartford.
Rob Arsego

I saw the Toros play out of the old Varsity Arena in Toronto. While the hockey in the early days of the league may not have been the same caliber as the top NHL teams of the time it was much more exciting then the brand of hockey the Leafs were putting out during that same period. The arena may not have been that great either but you were close to the ice and price was terrific considering I was a high school student at the time. It was much better live then what we later saw on TV.
Gary Jardine

I remember the day Cheevers signed with Cleveland, I felt the world was ending. Little did I know it was beginning. The WHA did more for hockey players salaries than anything in their history, finally seeing to it these men were paid what they were worth. And the hockey was damned good. The WHA-Russia ’74 Summit though we lost was thrilling from beginning to end largely due to Cheevers in net, who was later called the best goalie the Russians ever faced. I had always hoped for an All-Star game between the best of the two leagues, but also felt the NHL was scared and had a great deal to lose by playing that game and perhaps losing. Loved the WHA and watched many a game.
John Foote

My first and only WHA game featured the Jets and Bobby Hull. I lived in the Buffalo area and caught a game on Channel 9 out of Hamilton on a Saturday afternoon. Got to see a 5-5 overtime tie. Don’t remember the other team because Bobby Hull was playing. Wished I could have seen more but didn’t always pick up channel 9 with the rabbit ears. Did follow the league in the annuals and was a fan of the LA Sharks. Also remember Pat Hickey taking some penalty shots during an exhibition. Want to say the goalie was Evil Knievel but not sure. Maybe someone else remembers this. Thanks for a great site.
Ric Wattie

As a big fan of Dennis Murphy and his penchant for getting involved in rebel leagues, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the small, but rabid, group of fans for the LA Sharks. I bought season tickets for the inaugural season…4 rows directly behind one of the goals at the LA Sports Arena…$60 for the entire season…at that rate, if they had sold out the entire arena on a season basis they still would have lost money. Three particular memories stand uppermost. For whatever reason, the Sharks and Nordiques really didn’t like each other…one night I had to work late and arrived at the arena 45 minutes are the scheduled start of the game…turns out I missed only 6 minutes of play because of three first period brawls that broke out between the two teams…got to see most of the game, just sorry I missed the sparring.

Year two (an utterly miserable and final season for the team in LA) the Sharks brought in Marc Tardif, an obviously skilled and dominating presence on the ice…very quiet (he didn’t know much English)…wizard with the puck…but seemingly very non-aggressive…then one night someone crossed him the wrong way…one-punch knockout…stunning! Later that year the team fired their head coach and replaced him with Ted McCaskill (father of later major-league pitcher Kirk), a slow, lumbering, can’t-score forward, but could he ever fight (as a current Blue Jackets fan, I can’t help but think of Jody Shelley)…first night as coach, fisticuffs break out in front of the bench…first person I looked at was McCaskill and it was obvious he was ready to come over the boards when he realized he was now in a suit and not a uniform.

The next year the Sharks were gone, but the Mariners came to San Diego. I had a partial season ticket and the Mariners sent out a rather unique Christmas card to their supporters - a black-and-white poster of an empty sheet of ice littered with discarded gloves and sticks with the message "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men." Great times and great memories, and I still have some Sharks stationery they discarded after their final game and almost all of the press guides from the first three seasons of the league.

Greg Gack

My Dad took me to my first hockey game ever, I was 5 years old, The Minnesota Fighting Saints-vs-I can't remember who. He bought me a Saints pennant on a wooden dowl. I remember waving that pennant like mad at the game. I can't remember the score or who won. I just remember being at the game. I still have that pennant, I will never forget that experience.
Frank Bobick

I remember my fondest memory of the Toronto Toros, was I sent them a letter stating I would play Goal for them. They had Gratton at the time and The Toros sent me a letter inviting me to Training camp. Unfortunately for me before training camp they were sold and moved to Birmingham, Alabama, Wish I had kept that letter.
Albert Sheppard

I was 12 years old when it was announced the Crusaders were leaving Cleveland to merge with the Saints. I think I cried. Listening to every game on the Radio (Steve Albert - voice) while doing homework and, those long winter night drives out to the Richfield Coliseum (1/2 way to Akron) sometimes taking up to 2 hours to get home after a lake-effect snowstorm hit during the game. Other than the ridiculous location of the "Big House on the Prairie" it was the best arena in any league at that time. Getting the NHL Barons for a couple of seasons after the Oakland Seals failure was a brief respite, but no match for the excitement experienced in the years with the Crusaders. Over expansion simply killed franchises like Cleveland. With the following they had, with decent management allowing them to hold on a couple more years, I think they would been an excellent compliment to the NHL along with the Nords, Whalers, Oilers, and Jets. We would have at least been spared the Bluejackets! Thanks for this site for a chance to reminisce.
Jim Rigo

I opened up a bank account with TD Bank just to get tickets to Vancouver Blazers games for a $1. Saw tons of games and used to go down to the glass to get autographs in warmups (the glass was much shorter back then). Got Gordie Howe's when the Aeros were in town but my best memory is about some deranged kid when the Toros came to town. He kept crying out for Tony Featherstone's autograph depsite the fact the Big M was standing next to us signing for anyone. Other than that--Big Ralph MacSweyn, Don "Smokey" McLeod, Joe the Cro,Claude St,. Sauveur, "Soupy" Campbell and Danny Lawson all live on in my heart.
Brian Maitland

My father worked for the Cleveland Crusaders and one job was transporting the visiting teams equiptment to and from the airport. One memory was (and i have many) the Houston Aeros were in town and the washing machine at the coliseum broke down, so the Aeros equipment guy had to come to our home and wash the uniforms (middle of the night). I remember waking up, going downstairs in the morning, and all of the jerseys hanging up drying... And there it was - #9 Gordie fricken Howe's jersey is hanging up in my parents dining room! I also saw the indianapolis racers play the crusaders .the racer goalie(no mask)andy brown took as swing at a linesman and was ejected from the game.
Brian Koster

Loved the WHA and as a kid from New Jersey, I loved the idea of going to Madison Square Garden to see the New York Raiders play. In 1973, it was almost impossible to get Rangers tickets and when we were able to get tickets in the "red seats" to see the Raiders and the Los Angeles Sharks play on a Sunday afternoon, it was awesome. About 4,000 fans were at the Garden that day, and those of us up close could see the sweat pouring off the players' faces. Much better than TV -- or from the seats in Blue Heaven. One of the L.A. players was a defenseman by the name of Gerry Odrowski. He was an ordinary player and an older guy who had obviously been through the wars. When Odrowski skated into our zone, one loud fan screamed at the defenseman. "Hey Odrowski, you're uglier than my dog." Odrowski obviously heard the fan in the quiet Garden. He visually slumped after that remark -- while his teammates cracked up. I have no idea who won, but the vision of the crestfallen Odrowski is something I will never forget.
Steve Silverman

The very first pro hockey game I ever saw was in the old Boston Garden, during the inaugural WHA season. I won tickets to a New England Whalers vs. Minnesota Fighting Saints game. I remember it as a large, enthusiastic crowd. Later that season we saw a playoff game--Whalers vs. Nationals. I still have a Whalers puck and pennant, and my brother has a Nationals pennant. Bring back the WHA.
Brian Hosmer

So many great memories of the WHA. Unfortunately I only saw it for two years, Baldwin moved my beloved Whalers to Hartford. I'll curse him forever for giving up on Boston. As a BU guy I followed Jack Kelley to the Whalers and the first season was a dream. Solid goaltending by the late great Al Smith, the league's best defense Teddy Green & Rick Ley, Brad Selwood & Jim Dorey, Paul Hurley and Ric Jordan. The forwards hustling John French, Larry Pleau, Tim Sheehy, Brit Selby, Terry Caffery, Tom Webster 53 goals, Tommy Williams, Kevin Ahearn, Mike Byers, John Danby, Tom Earl. A solid club that could play with anyone.

I remember the terrible times and nights they had to play, I guess the (B) Ruins were afraid of a little competition. So much so that they railroaded The Whalers out of town. You own the rink you call the shots. If only Bob Schmertz hadn't gotten sick and was able to built the arena for his Celtics and Whalers. Oh well it was a great time if only for a short time. At least the (B) Ruins are still chokers and can't win the Cup. A neat website Thanks. WHA forever!!

Lou Vitale

I was a student at Carleton University back in the 70’s and actually attended both the first exhibition game (Bernie Parent & the Philly Blazers at Ottawa) as well as the first regular season game between the Nationals and the Alberta (NOT Edmonton) Oilers. They played the game on a Wednesday night - it was televised on the relatively new Global TV Network. Unfortunately, the NHL had scheduled the Canadiens at Toronto on the CBC for the same night. The Quebec Nordiques were also playing in Cleveland that night and Gary Davidson & his entourage decided to go there instead.

The Nationals lacked the "name" players of Winnipeg (Bobby Hull), Cleveland (Gerry Cheevers) or Philly (Bernie Parent, Derek Sanderson) teams. We had Wayne "Swoop" Carleton, Brian Conacher and Guy Trottier. By the time the season was half over however, everybody was talking about their colourful rookie goalie "Chilly" Gilly Gratton - a real character who once "streaked" the Ottawa Civic Centre during a practice. Despite the lack of big-name talent, coach Billy Harris got the most out of the team and they actually finished in 4th place and made the eastern playoffs.

Jim Agnew

The WHA IS 1972 to 1979. Not the supposed re-birth. That doesn't even count. just taking on a glorious old league's name. My love of hockey began in the 1960's when my uncle worked for the New Haven Blades, where I saw my first games as a little kid. When the WHA began in 1972, I was living in Vermont. Boston was our weekend getaway. I saw the Whalers play in the `Gahden' until they departed for Hartford, then it was an easier trip down I-91 to the Civic Center. My favorite WHA game-by far the All Star Game in Hartford. Still have my Kodak Instamatic photos of Hull and Howe coming off the ice together and me there snapping a flash shot of them-nearly blinding them.

Whalers are my all time favorite WHA team, followed closely by the Nordiques. it was a long haul, but made it up to games in the Colisee with my dad both in the NHL and had the great thrill of later viewing games vs the Habs in both QC and Montreal. By far, to me anyways, the greatest rivalry in the NHL. Quebecois were rabidly divided between the Nords and the Habs. Never should the NHL have let the Nords move to Denver-same be said for the Jets leaving Winnipeg. Long live the WHA!

Ed Kobak

On a Sunday during the 73-74 season, approximately 5,000 of us elbowed our way into Madison Square Garden to see the New York Golden Blades and Chicago Cougars. Because I was in the Coast Guard, tickets were plentiful through the USO, and two friends and I were among the throng. By the time I reached my Barracks room at Governors Island late that day, the Golden Blades had declared bankruptcy but the team was reincarnated Monday, playing as the Jersey Knights in Cherry Hill. At the end of the 73-74 WHA season, the original New York Raiders landed in San Diego and played a few more seasons as the Mariners. I didn't know much about hockey, although the Cougars had Ralph Backstrom and Pat Stapleton, two former Blackhawks. I enjoyed the WHA, but my favorite team soon became (and remains) the Blue Shirts in New York.

Raymon Fullerton

My Dad took me to see the Jersey Knights twice while they were in Cherry Hill. The first time was against the Minnesota Fighting Saints (I remember John Garrett) and then later we saw the Cleveland Crusaders with my idol Gerry Cheevers. I remember him constantly skating around the net during stoppages. I didn’t understand at the time, having read about the ice sheet at the arena, I guess he couldn’t believe how bad the ice was. Before one of the games I got autographs from the Knights goalies – Joe Junkin & Gary Kurt. I still have a souvenir button from there. I’ve been a hockey fan/player ever since. Thanks Dad!

Bill Cain

I grew up in Toronto in the 70's. You couldn't get Leafs tickets (and if you could who would want them?) and my Dad's company had season tickets to the Toros. I swear I was their biggest fan: at age 10 I lived and died with that team - Friday night and Sunday afternoon home games, built around Harold Ballard's schedule for the Leafs at the Gardens. A great memory was the night "Shotgun" Tom Simpson scored a hat trick at Maple Leaf Gardens for his 49th through 51st goals of the season.

They used to have this first intermission thing where 3 local junior hockey players would be introduced and skate a lap with the Toros backup goalie for the night, then they would each get a breakaway attempt and the one that scored won a Toros prize pack (the goalie always let one in: most often a 6 or 7 year old that could barely skate, who always shot last). This one night a 16 year old kid leads off, skates in and wings a wicked shot up under the crossbar that surprised the goalie (Les Binkley or Jim Shaw, I can't remember which). So now having let in the leadoff goal and with only one prize pack to give away, he stones the 12- and 6- year olds and the teenager skated off with the little kid's prize.

Come to think of it they were a horrible team when they left Toronto and the caliber of hockey wasn't all that good in retrospect but the Toros won my heart for the great game of hockey.

Shaun McFarlane

My father took me to the Gardens to see many Toro games. I still have a few rectangular felt Toro cheer flags in my basement storage along with programs.

Victor Refalo

When I was 8-9 years old, I was living in Manhattan and remember my father taking me to a few New York Raiders games. I wasn't a hockey fan at the time but I do remember being at one game and was fascinated with the man who sat a couple rows behind us on crutches. I remember looking several times at the guy who just politely smiled back. Later I found out the man was injured New York Ranger All-Star defenseman Brad Park who my father was very familiar with this as he was a loyal Ranger fan. As I said, I wasn't a hockey fan back then so the only part of the game I enjoyed was the hotdog and popcorn!

Ken Kowalsky

The best tribute to the WHA I have ever seen was after the Oiler's first Stanley Cup when Slats went on national TV in response to a Dave Hodge remark about "a few glasses being tipped tonight in an old league called the World Hockey Association". Slats told a national Hockey Night in Canada audience that the Nillson-Hedberg-Hull line was the best hockey line that he had ever seen. When one considers the lines that he has seen - including Lafleur-Lemaire-Shutt a few others (including a few pretty good ones with the Oilers and a guy named Gretzky at centre) - that's quite a compliment.

Craig Hall

I think it is time to bring the WHA back but this time, get the guys from the AHL and ECHL that don’t have a chance with the NHL. Give them a little more than they are making and really promote it well. And leave the league only in places that actually have winter and snow.

Ric Wattie

My very first hockey game was the St Paul Fighting Saints, which a neighbor took me to for shoveling her drive for the winter. I don’t remember who they were playing, but I remember the fights, and a loose puck hitting a woman sitting next to me in the mouth…I still have the puck(I am 43 yrs old). Started my love of the game.

Bradley Bourgeois

I remember going to the old Boston Arena (now Matthews Arena-Northeastern U.) to see the Whalers play the Alberta Oilers. I could have sworn that Jacques Plante was playing for Alberta, but, it turns out that he played when they were called Edmonton in ‘74/75. Funny what a 57 year olds’ memory can do….. I also went to the fifth and final game in 1973 when the Whalers beat the Jets 9-6 to win the Avco Cup. That was at the Boston Garden. They don’t have games like that in the Stanley Cup Finals!

Paul Devine

I was a young kid in Indianapolis when the Racers joined the league. Nick Harbaruk moved behind our house and his family became friends with all the neighbors. He was an extremely nice guy and he used to take me to practices and my family used to go to a lot of games. I got to meet many of the players - all cool guys. All of this made quite an impression on a 10 year old kid. I got hooked big time and started playing hockey and actually ended up as a linemate of Mike Stapleton (Pat's son who went on to play for the Penguins).

I'll never forget youth hockey night against the Cleveland Crusaders and all the kids who played came to the game. There was an epic bench clearing brawl complete with the coaches and the goalies pairing off and duking it out - on youth hockey night! The kids loved it but not sure the parents were happy. When the Racers got in the playoffs I remember my dad and all the neighbors and Nick having a party - I was mad I didn't get to stay up and join them. I remember when Gretzky came to play for the Racers and I used to love watching the Howes and Bobby Hull when they came to town. I am still a huge hockey fan to this day. Never would have happened if the Racers and Nick hadn't come to town. Man what great memories.

Dave Smithwick