1977–78 WHA season

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1977–78 WHA season
League World Hockey Association
Sport Ice hockey
Regular season
Top scorer Marc Tardif (Quebec)
Avco World Trophy
Champions Winnipeg Jets
  Runners-up New England Whalers
WHA seasons

The 1977–78 WHA season was the sixth season of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Eight teams played 80 games each. The Avco World Trophy winner was the Winnipeg Jets.

League business[edit]

With a reduction of 3 teams from the end of the previous season (the San Diego Mariners, Phoenix Roadrunners, and Calgary Cowboys folded), the WHA abandoned its divisional format and grouped the remaining 8 teams together. There had been a tentative merger agreement that would have had Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Winnipeg, Quebec, and Edmonton join the NHL but it could not be finalized.

In a unique move, two international All-Star teams, the Soviet All-Stars and Czechoslovakia All-Stars, played games that counted in the regular season standings. They played each WHA team once, on the WHA team's home ice. The Soviet team acquitted themselves well, winning three plus two additional games against WHA teams outside the regular standings, tying one and losing the other four; while the Czechoslovakian team only won once and tied once, losing six. This is the first time International teams competed in regular season competition in a major professional sports league in North America; those two teams as well as a Finnish team would come back to play the WHA teams the next year.

The best six teams qualified for the playoffs. However, instead of the standard schedule for a six-team playoff (i.e., giving the 1st and 2nd place teams byes into the semifinals, with the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams opening in the quarterfinals), the WHA came up with a unique twist. There were three quarterfinal series instead of two, with the teams paired top to bottom (i.e., 1st vs. 6th, 2nd vs. 5th, 3rd vs. 4th). The highest-seeded quarterfinal winner then received a semifinal bye and advanced directly to the finals, while the remaining two quarterfinal series winners played off in a single semifinal. All series were best four-out-of-seven games.

Regular season[edit]

The Howe family of Gordie and his sons Mark and Marty moved to the New England Whalers from the Houston Aeros. The trio helped the Whalers to the Avco Cup final.

Final standings[edit]

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points

WHA Team W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Winnipeg Jets 50 28 2 102 381 270 988
New England Whalers 44 31 5 93 335 269 1255
Houston Aeros 42 34 4 88 296 302 1543
Quebec Nordiques 40 37 3 83 349 347 1185
Edmonton Oilers 38 39 3 79 309 307 1296
Birmingham Bulls 36 41 3 75 287 314 2177
Cincinnati Stingers 35 42 3 73 298 332 1701
Indianapolis Racers 24 51 5 53 267 353 1189
Soviet All-Stars 3 4 1 7 27 36 120
Czechoslovakia All-Stars 1 6 1 3 21 40 87


Player stats[edit]

Scoring leaders[edit]

Bolded numbers indicate season leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Marc Tardif Quebec Nordiques 78 65 89 154 50
Real Cloutier Quebec Nordiques 73 56 73 129 19
Ulf Nilsson Winnipeg Jets 73 37 89 126 89
Anders Hedberg Winnipeg Jets 77 63 59 122 60
Bobby Hull Winnipeg Jets 77 46 71 117 23
Andre Lacroix Houston Aeros 78 36 77 113 57
Robbie Ftorek Cincinnati Stingers 80 59 50 109 54
Kent Nilsson Winnipeg Jets 80 42 65 107 8
Gordie Howe New England Whalers 76 34 62 96 85
Mark Howe New England Whalers 70 30 61 91 32

Leading goaltenders[edit]

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

Player Team GP Min W L T GA SO SV% GAA
Al Smith New England Whalers 55 3246 30 20 3 174 2 88.5 3.22
Joe Daley Winnipeg Jets 37 2075 21 11 1 114 1 88.3 3.30
Gary Bromley Winnipeg Jets 39 2252 25 12 1 124 1 88.6 3.30
Jean-Louis Levasseur New England Whalers 27 1655 14 11 2 91 3 88.6 3.30
Ernie Wakely Cincinnati - Houston 57 3381 28 23 4 192 2 89.1 3.41

All-Star Game[edit]

The 1978 WHA All-Star game pitted the defending champion Quebec Nordiques against the stars from the remaining WHA teams. The game was played on 17 January 1978, in Quebec City, and attracted 6,413 spectators. The Nordiques, coached by Marc Boileau, won the game 5-4. Marc Tardif and Mark Howe were named the players of the game.

Avco World Trophy playoffs[edit]

Quarterfinals

  • New England Whalers defeated Edmonton Oilers, 4 games to 1
  • Quebec Nordiques defeated Houston Aeros, 4 games to 2
  • Winnipeg Jets defeated Birmingham Bulls, 4 games to 1 (Winnipeg, as the highest seeded quarterfinal winner, advances to the finals)

Semifinals

  • New England Whalers defeated Quebec Nordiques, 4 games to 1

Championship

  • Winnipeg Jets defeated New England Whalers, 4 games to 0

WHA awards[edit]

Trophies[edit]

Avco World Trophy: Winnipeg Jets
Gordie Howe Trophy: Marc Tardif, Quebec Nordiques
Bill Hunter Trophy: Marc Tardif, Quebec Nordiques
Lou Kaplan Trophy: Kent Nilsson, Winnipeg Jets
Ben Hatskin Trophy: Al Smith, New England Whalers
Dennis A. Murphy Trophy: Lars-Erik Sjöberg, Winnipeg Jets
Paul Deneau Trophy: Dave Keon, New England Whalers
Robert Schmertz Memorial Trophy: Bill Dineen, Houston Aeros
WHA Playoff MVP: Robert Guindon, Winnipeg Jets

All-Star Team[edit]

Position First Team Second Team
Centre Ulf Nilsson, Winnipeg Robbie Ftorek, Cincinnati
Right Wing Anders Hedberg, Winnipeg Real Cloutier, Quebec
Left Wing Marc Tardif, Quebec Bobby Hull, Winnipeg
Defence Lars-Erik Sjöberg, Winnipeg Rick Ley, New England
Defence Al Hamilton, Edmonton Barry Long, Winnipeg
Goaltender Al Smith, New England Ernie Wakely, Houston

See also[edit]

References[edit]