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  • Home: New York, NY
  • Stadium: Madison Square Garden (17,500)
  • Team synopsis: Dismal existance. Originally intended to play out of Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, but moved to the Big Apple to compete against the NHL's Rangers. when they decided to place the Islanders there. The team was renamed the Golden Blades for the second season, but moved to New Jersey, then San Diego.

    The WHA knew that if they were to succeed, they would need a presence in the state of New York. The first attempt at this was made even before the frist blue puck was dropped. The league planned to open its inaugural season in the fall of 1972 with a team playing out of the newly built Nassau Coliseum. But news of the upstart league prompted the NHL to counter the rival league with the New York Islanders. Uniondale was wooed by the established league and the WHA found it on the outside looking in on Long Island. The Raiders instead decided to play out of Madison Square Gardens in downtown New York City. Their initial plan was to build for the future, as except for the NHL's Gerry Desjardins, all their preliminary draft choices were juniors playing in Toronto, including Steve Shutt - who'd later win the Stanley Cup with Montreal on several occasions. The Gardens was simply too big for the WHA. High rents and dismal crowds spelled disaster for the Raiders. Despite not being able to sign any of the initial draft choices, they still started out with a fairly decent group of hard-nosed players such as Gene Peacosh and Bobby Sheehan, who they acquired from the Whalers in the pre-season, the owners defaulted on the club halfway through the inaugural season. Unwilling to see a team fold that early in the league's existence, officials took over the Raiders and tried to boost attendance with an agressive marketing plan. Unfortunately though, New Yorkers already had a choice, the established Rangers - or the new Islanders. Their goaltending tandem consisted of Gary Kurt, who'd done backup duties for the NHL's Golden Seals the year before and rookie Peter Donnelly. Their combined 3.85 GAA was indicative of the team's play, poor defense and lacklustre scoring. They finished the inaugural season with 33 wins and 68 points - dead last in the East and the second worse record in the league.

    League officials sold the Raiders during the offseason to New York real estate developer Ralf Brent. Unfortunately though, the Raiders, renamed the Golden Blades, lasted a mere 24 games before the league was again forced to take over operations of the club, when they moved the team to New Jersey where they finished out the season as the Knights. Another sale during the off-season saw the team become the San Diego Mariners, where they actually did quite well by WHA standards until they were forced to fold after the '76-'77 season.