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Philadelphia Blazers

The Philadelphia Blazers were an ice hockey franchise in the World Hockey Association (WHA) for the 1972–73 WHA season based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The team's home ice was the Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center.

Philadelphia Blazers
Philadelphia blazers 1973.png
CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Home arenaPhiladelphia Civic Center
ColorsYellow and burnt orange
MediaWKBS-TV
WIBG
Franchise history
1972Miami Screaming Eagles
1972–1973Philadelphia Blazers
19731975Vancouver Blazers
19751977Calgary Cowboys

The franchise was originally intended to be based in Miami, Florida and called the Screaming Eagles, but due to money problems and a lack of a suitable arena, the franchise instead moved to Philadelphia. After only one season in Philadelphia, the team relocated to Vancouver for the start of the 1973–74 WHA season and became the Vancouver Blazers. Two years later the franchise moved again, this time to Calgary where it was called the Calgary Cowboys. In 1977, the franchise folded.

Contents

HistoryEdit

In June 1972, businessmen Bernard Brown and James Cooper were granted the rights to the Miami Screaming Eagles, along with the players (including Bernie Parent) whom were under contract with the team, from businessman Herb Martin. Brown and Cooper then moved the franchise to Philadelphia and renamed it the Blazers.[1] They then signed Derek Sanderson for $2.6 million over five years, at the time the highest salary ever paid to a professional sports player.[2] The signing caused a great deal of publicity, but controversy as well, as many hockey pundits asserted that Sanderson was nowhere near enough of a star to warrant such a salary.[3]

The Blazers had high hopes going into the inaugural WHA season with such stars as Parent, Sanderson and John McKenzie, who was named the team's player-coach. But their hopes were soon dashed as McKenzie suffered an injury in a pre-season game and Parent and Sanderson also suffered from injuries. McKenzie was soon replaced as coach by Phil Watson. The team's first home game on Friday, October 13, 1972 was also a disaster. When the Zamboni drove onto the playing surface after arriving late at the arena, the improperly made ice could not support its weight and it cracked, forcing the game to be rescheduled. [4]

 
Puck given out as souvenir at inaugural Blazers game which was canceled due to ice problems; many fans threw the pucks onto the ice in frustration after a belated announcement that the game would not be played.

The team lost sixteen of its first twenty games before Parent and McKenzie returned. During this time McKenzie was replaced as coach by Phil Watson.[5] Also, Sanderson left the team; after only eight games (in which he scored three goals and three assists) and considerable controversy, the owners paid him one million dollars to void his contract, and he returned to the Bruins.[6]

 
Ticket from the November 22, 1972 game between the Blazers and the Alberta Oilers.

The Blazers improved as the season went on. Andre Lacroix led the league in scoring, and Danny Lawson scored 61 goals; they would prove to be two of the WHA's brightest stars, and Lacroix became the league's all-time leading career scorer. Coupled with Bernie Parent's goaltending, the team made the playoffs with a record of 38 wins and 40 losses. However, Parent left the team after the first game of the playoffs (a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Crusaders) and the Blazers were swept in four games.[7] Parent's agent, Howard J. Casper, claimed that money deposited into an escrow account to guarantee his full multi-year contract had been withdrawn by the team and that Parent would not return until the money was repaid;[8] he also alleged that Parent was having trouble getting his regular salary and that the team was not paying medical expenses for him.[9] Parent returned to the Philadelphia Flyers the following season.

Despite making a decent account of themselves on the ice, the Blazers could not overcome the inadequacy of the Civic Center, which was usually half-full even on a decent day. After only one season, Brown and Cooper sold the Blazers to Jim Pattison, who moved them to Vancouver.[10]

Season-by-season recordEdit

See 1972–73 Philadelphia Blazers season

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season Team Name GP W L T PTS GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1972–73 Philadelphia Blazers 78 38 40 0 76 288 305 1260 3rd, Eastern Lost Quarterfinals (Crusaders)
Franchise totals 395 174 207 14 362 1381 1498 5278

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Surgent, Scott Adam (1999). The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association, 1972-1979 (4th ed.). Tempe, Arizona: Xaler Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-9644774-0-8.
  2. ^ Davidson, Neil (November 6, 2012). "Booze, pills and the rise and fall of former NHLer Derek Sanderson". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  3. ^ Fitzpatrick, James (October 16, 2016). "Who Was Hockey's First Million-Dollar Man?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  4. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  5. ^ "The Dispatch - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  6. ^ Anderson, Dave. "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; 'I HAD TO BOTTOM OUT'".
  7. ^ "1972-73 Philadelphia Blazers Schedule and Results - Hockey-Reference.com". Hockey-Reference.com.
  8. ^ "The Lewiston Daily Sun - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  9. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  10. ^ "Observer-Reporter - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  1. ^ "Philadelphia Blazers WHA History". 2009-10-27. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  2. ^ Phila Flyers (2016-05-12), Apr 5, 1973 Dennis Hextall vs Ross Lonsberry Minnesota North Stars vs Philadelphia Flyers, retrieved 2017-04-25
  3. ^ "Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Players By Team -- Philadelphia Blazers". www.legendsofhockey.net. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  4. ^ "Civic Center, Philadelphia". www.phila.gov. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  5. ^ "Ice Hockey (Professional) | Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia". philadelphiaencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  6. ^ "Philadelphia Blazers (1972/73)". sportsecyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2017-04-25.