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1972–73 WHA season

1972–73 WHA season

The 1972–73 WHA season was the first season of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Twelve teams played 78 games each. The league was officially incorporated in June of 1971 by Garry L. Davidson and Dennis A. Murphy and promised to ice twelve teams in various markets around Canada and the United States. The league championship trophy, the Avco World Trophy, was donated by AVCO Financial Services Corporation along with $500,000. The New England Whalers won the first Avco World Trophy.

1972–73 WHA season
LeagueWorld Hockey Association
SportIce hockey
Regular season
Top scorerAndre Lacroix (Philadelphia)
Avco World Trophy
ChampionsNew England Whalers
  Runners-upWinnipeg Jets

1972 General Player Draft

The WHA's inaugural player draft was held in Anaheim, California on February 12 and 13, 1972. All 12 WHA franchises took part in the draft. There were no drafting constraints, and the WHA teams selected players from all levels of play, including established National Hockey League players, minor leaguers, college, junior players, Europeans, and even retired players.[1] The first player selected in the general draft was United States men's national ice hockey team member Henry Boucha, taken by the Minnesota Fighting Saints (who also selected the Governor of Minnesota, Wendell Anderson, with a late pick). After 70 rounds the Winnipeg Jets selected Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin and then stop participating in the draft, while the other teams continued making selections. This process continued, with teams arbitrarily dropping out from the draft, while others kept going, until attrition finally ended the process. The final two teams participating in this draft were the Dayton Aeros and the Los Angeles Sharks.[2] In all, just under 1100 selections were made by the 12 teams, who could now focus their efforts on signing players for the first season of play.

Regular season summary

The first WHA games, on October 11, 1972, were won by the Alberta Oilers 7-4 over the Ottawa Nationals and the Cleveland Crusaders 2-0 over the Quebec Nordiques.[3][4]

The WHA was split into two divisions, the Eastern Division and the Western Division. Each division sported six teams. The New England Whalers led the Eastern Division and had the best record in the league. The other playoff qualifiers in the East were Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Ottawa. The Winnipeg Jets led the Western Division and had the second best record in the league. Behind Winnipeg, the West had a thrilling race with four teams fighting for three playoff spots, trading second through fifth place all season. Houston won three of its last four games to finish second with 82 points. With two games remaining, Minnesota had 79 points, Alberta had 77, and Los Angeles had 76. Los Angeles won their last two games to finish third, while Minnesota and Alberta both lost their next to last game of the season, setting up a final game showdown in Minnesota against each other with Minnesota two points ahead of Alberta. Alberta won the game 5-3, so both teams finished with identical records. The league now faced a dilemma. The first standings tiebreaker was number of wins, and the teams both had 38. The second tiebreaker was head to head record and the teams split their eight games with four wins apiece. The league by-laws did not specify further tiebreakers. In the NHL, the next two tie breakers were goal differential and goals scored, both of which favored Alberta. But because the WHA by-laws did not specify additional tiebreakers, the league Board of Governors met to decide how to break the tie. They ultimately decided on a 1-game playoff at a neutral site. The Alberta Oilers missed the playoffs, despite having a superior goal-differential to the Minnesota Fighting Saints, because they lost the neutral-site, tie-breaking game against the Saints in Calgary by a score of 4-2.

Final standings

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

Teams that qualifies for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

Eastern Division
New England Whalers784630231826385894
Cleveland Crusaders7843323287239109589
Philadelphia Blazers7838400288305126076
Ottawa Nationals7835394279301106774
Quebec Nordiques7833405276313135471
New York Raiders783343230333490068
Western Division
Winnipeg Jets784331428524975790
Houston Aeros7839354284269136382
Los Angeles Sharks7837356259250147780
Minnesota Fighting Saints783837325026984379
Alberta Oilers7838373269256113479
Chicago Cougars782650224529581154

Player stats

Scoring leaders

Bolded numbers indicate season leaders

GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes

Andre LacroixPhiladelphia Blazers78507412483
Ron WardNew York Raiders77516711828
Danny LawsonPhiladelphia Blazers78614510635
Tom WebsterNew England Whalers77535010389
Bobby HullWinnipeg Jets63515210337
Norm BeaudinWinnipeg Jets78386510315
Chris BordeleauWinnipeg Jets78475410112
Terry CafferyNew England Whalers74396110014
Gord LabossiereHouston Aeros7736609656
Wayne CarletonOttawa Nationals7542499142

Leading goaltenders

Bolded numbers indicate season leaders

GP = Games played; Min = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties, GA = Goals against; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; SV% = Save percentage; GAA = Goals against average

Gerry CheeversCleveland Crusaders52314432202149591.22.84
Joe DaleyWinnipeg Jets2917181710183289.32.90
Russ GillowLos Angeles Sharks3818921713296288.72.91
Wayne RutledgeHouston Aeros36216320142110090.73.05
Jack NorrisAlberta Oilers64370228373189190.23.06

All-star game

The WHA held its first all-star game on January 6, 1973, in Quebec City. The attendance of 5,435 was lower than expected, perhaps because it was locally televised and Quebec City was hit by a major snow storm. The East defeated the West 6-2. Wayne Carleton of the Ottawa Nationals was named the game MVP.

During the all-star break, the WHA Players' Association was officially formed, with Curt Leichner of Portland as general counsel and Bill Hicke of the Alberta Oilers as president.[5]

Playoff summary

Compared to the thrilling race in the West Division, the playoffs were unexciting in that the team with the better record won every series and only one series went beyond 5 games. That was the West semifinal between Houston and Los Angeles. After getting blown out in game one in Houston by a score of 7-2, Los Angeles rallied to win game two 4-2 and even the series. The Sharks then won a thrilling game three in L.A. 3-2. Game 4 was the turning point of the series. The teams headed into overtime tied at 2; a Houston goal would even the series while a Los Angeles goal would give the Sharks a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Aeros scored in overtime to even the series, then won game 5 in Houston, 6-3. Game six in L.A. was another thriller, with Houston scoring late to win the game 3-2 and win the series.

Avco World Trophy playoffs

E1New England4
E1New England4
Eastern Division
E1New England4
Western Division
W3Los Angeles2

Avco World Trophy finals

New England Whalers defeated the Winnipeg Jets, 4 games to 1. The Whalers defeated the Jets 9 to 6 in the deciding game, with Larry Pleau scoring a hat trick. Upon their win, The Avco World Trophy had not yet been completed. As a result, the Whalers skated their "victory lap" with their divisional trophy causing an embarrassment for the WHA officials.

WHA awards


Avco World Trophy:New England Whalers
Gary L. Davidson Award:Bobby Hull, Winnipeg Jets
Bill Hunter Trophy:Andre Lacroix, Philadelphia Blazers
Lou Kaplan Trophy:Terry Caffery, New England Whalers
Ben Hatskin Trophy:Gerry Cheevers, Cleveland Crusaders
Dennis A. Murphy Trophy:J. C. Tremblay, Quebec Nordiques
Paul Deneau Trophy:Ted Hampson, Minnesota Fighting Saints
Howard Baldwin Trophy:Jack Kelley, New England Whalers

All-Star Team

PositionFirst TeamSecond TeamThird Team
CentreAndre Lacroix, PhiladelphiaRon Ward, New YorkChris Bordeleau, Winnipeg
Right WingDanny Lawson, PhiladelphiaTom Webster, New EnglandNorm Beaudin, Winnipeg
Left WingBobby Hull, WinnipegGary Jarrett, ClevelandWayne Carleton, Ottawa
DefenceJ. C. Tremblay, QuebecJim Dorey, New EnglandTed Green, New England
DefencePaul Shmyr, ClevelandLarry Hornung, WinnipegRick Ley, New England
GoaltenderGerry Cheevers, ClevelandBernie Parent, PhiladelphiaAl Smith, New England


The following is a list of players of note who played their first major professional game in 1972–73 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

  • Mike Antonovich, Minnesota Fighting Saints

  • Richard Brodeur, Quebec Nordiques

  • Gavin Kirk, Ottawa Nationals

  • Bruce Landon, New England Whalers

  • Bob MacMillan, Minnesota Fighting Saints

  • Rusty Patenaude, Alberta Oilers

  • Gene Peacosh, New York Raiders

  • Ron Plumb, Philadelphia Blazers

  • Tim Sheehy, New England Whalers

Last game

The following is a list of players of note who played their final major professional game in 1972–73:

  • Kent Douglas, New York Raiders

  • Bill Hicke, Alberta Oilers

  • Marcel Paille, Philadelphia Blazers

See also


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSurgent, Scott Adam (1999). The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association 1972-1979. Tempe, Arizona: Xaler Press. pp. 447–51. ISBN 0964477408.
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkarchive.orgWilles, Ed (2004). The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. pp. 23–4. ISBN 0771089473.
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkbasketball.ballparks.comhttp://basketball.ballparks.com/NBA/ClevelandCavaliers/oldindex.htm
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkwww.hockeydb.comhttp://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/team_results.php?tid=000244&sid=1973
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgMarlow, Walt, ed. (1973). 1973-74 Media Guide. Newport Beach: WHA Properties.
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkwww.hockeydb.comHockeyDB
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkarchive.orgThe Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkbasketball.ballparks.comhttp://basketball.ballparks.com/NBA/ClevelandCavaliers/oldindex.htm
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkwww.hockeydb.comhttp://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/team_results.php?tid=000244&sid=1973
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linkwww.hockeydb.comHockeyDB
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM
Citation Linken.wikipedia.orgThe original version of this page is from Wikipedia, you can edit the page right here on Everipedia.Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.Additional terms may apply.See everipedia.org/everipedia-termsfor further details.Images/media credited individually (click the icon for details).
Sep 24, 2019, 8:17 PM