The Web
buy wha merchandise here
before the beginning '72 - '73 '73 - '74 '74 - '75 '75 - '76 '76 - '77 '77 - '78 '78 - '79 wha news ... such as it is ...

player photos team stats

  • Home: Vancouver, BC
  • Stadium: Pacific Coliseum (15,569)
  • Team synopsis: By the time

When the WHA's announced their plans of beginning with a team in Miami, the southern US was hockey-virgin and the timing was right. However the NHL countered with the Atlanta Flames the same year. A last minute move saw the team transferred to Philadelphia. As the Blazers, they finished 1 game under .500, but still good enough to make the first ever WHA playoffs. But bounced by Cleveland in 4 straight, management saw no future for the team. It was sold to Canadian businessman Jim Pattison in the summer of '73, who moved the team to Vancouver for the '73-'74 season.

Though the team struggled their first year in their new home, they managed to compete with the Canucks in the NHL. Like their cousins they played in Pacific Coliseum, and also employed the uninventive logo concept, bringing the same jerseys from Philadelphia. The Blazers' first task was to fill the void in net left by Bernie Parent, who chose to stay in Philadelphia and lead the NHL's Flyers to 2 Stanley Cups a few years later. They obtained Don McLeod from the Houston Aeros but gave up 40 more goals and finished fifth in the east, a full 21 points worse than the previous year, missing the playoffs. But the Blazers did have bright spots. With their eyes on the future, they'd traded one of the league's 3 50-goal scorers in Andre Lacroix and was nurturing some of the new league's brightest young prospects. Claude St Sauveur, runner-up to Houston's Mark Howe for rookie of the year the year before, and Danny Lawson, another 30 goal scorer were augmented by veterans like Don Burgess and Bryan Campbell.

They began the '74-'75 season placing many of their high hopes on the team's on-ice future. Ron Chipperfield, one of the game's hottest juniors the year before, signed with the Blazers instead of the NHL's Bruins. And with a stronger emphasis on defense, the team allowed an average of nearly a goal per game less and finished with a 37-39-2 record. But because the league expanded to 14 teams that year, they were in a new playoff format. Despite finishing fourth in the Canadian under the new divisional alignment, they missed the playoffs for the second year. During the course of the season, attendance had steadily declined, an average 1200 fewer per game. Though a marketing plan was in place, the city of Vancouver didn't seem to favour one league's team over the other. In the summer of 1975, Pattison struck a deal in Calgary and moved his team to Calgary where they became the Cowboys for two seasons before folding.

When the NHL awarded Vancouver the Canucks in 1970, they became the first Canadian major hockey team west of Toronto. The Blazers' were already 3 years behind the competition when they moved from Philadelphia. Neither the Blazers or Canucks were particularly successful during the two seasons both teams were there, on-ice or gatewise. But had the Blazers been a better team and able to draw fans away from the Canucks, they probably would have survived 'til the end. Had that been the case, the NHL would likely have moved the Canucks before the WHA called it quits after the '78-'79 season and admitted the Blazers into the league along with the Whalers, Nordiques, Jets and Oilers.