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  • Home: Detroit, MI
  • Stadium: Cobo Arena
  • Team synopsis: Played the first two seasons as the LA Sharks, kept the colours when they moved. Team relocated to Baltimore in mid-season, then folded.

A team in Detroit seemed liked a no-brainer from the beginning, but the Michigan Stags were plagued with problems right from the start. At the end of the '73-'74 season, Peter Shagena and Charles Nolton bought the struggling LA Sharks from league co-founder Dennis Murphy. With the intentions of taking advantage of the NHL's Red Wings' poor play cross-town, they hoped to thrive on the area's rich hockey history, and develop a rivalry with the Toronto Toros, playing off the NHL's rivalry between the Wings and Maple Leafs. Being a major tv market, the WHA also planned to use the Stags to help build on their steadily growing base of fans. Playing in Cobo Hall, with a total capacity of over 10,000, the Stags had one of the bigger and better buildings in the league. Unfortunately though, poor product on the ice spelled disaster for the team, averaging a little better 3,000 per game. Despite luring Gerry Desjardins from the NHL, that addition to the tandem of Jim McLeod and Cam Newton wasn't enough. The scoring punch of Marc Tardif and JP Leblanc just wasn't there either, and the team struggled to keep in the middle of the pack.

Not realizing the true devotion of Detroit hockey fans for their Red Wings, the Stags were forced to play without a television deal. Financial woes resulted for the new owners and forced the trade of Tardif, their only real marquee player to Quebec on December 7, 1974. The final shot was made. Less than 6 weeks later, On January 19, 1975, the Stags limped out of Detroit with 39 points in 61 games to their name after a 2-1 road loss to the Crusaders. But their move to Baltimore didn't fare much better. They resurfaced as the Blades a week later, bu the red and black jersies weren't all the team brought with them. Poor attendance was again a problem and the team managed only 7 points in the remaining 17 games. Now under a three division league, the team finished last in the East with the second worse overall record. Maryland was already plucked of it's new hockey fans by the NHL's Washington Capitals. Unable to secure a local television deal for the upcoing season, the team planned to give it a go in hockey-virgin Seattle, Washington. This however never came to be and the team ceased operations in May of 1975.

The WHA in Detroit seemed like a natural fit. A major market + proven hockey hotbed should equal success. Then add the fact the Stags began operations in the league's third season, when the WHA's future looked brighter than it really was. Had the league decided to play in Detroit from the beginning, the team, even a weak team they inherited from Los Angeles would have had a chance to gain a following. Had that happened, the WHA's future may have been brighter for at least awhile longer.