Philadelphia Blazers

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Philadelphia Blazers
Philadelphia blazers 1973.png
City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Home arena Philadelphia Civic Center
Colors Yellow and burnt orange
Franchise history
1972 Miami Screaming Eagles
1972–1973 Philadelphia Blazers
19731975 Vancouver Blazers
19751977 Calgary Cowboys

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

The franchise was originally intended to be based out of Miami, Florida (to be called the Miami Screaming Eagles), but due to money problems, and a lack of a suitable arena, they never played a game in Miami. The franchise instead moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where it debuted in 1972 as the Philadelphia Blazers. After only one season in Philadelphia, the team relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the start of the 1973–74 WHA season and became the Vancouver Blazers. Two years later the franchise was again relocated, this time to Calgary, Alberta where they played as the Calgary Cowboys beginning with the 1975–76 WHA season. Two years later, the franchise folded.

History[edit]

In June 1972, Bernard Brown and James Cooper were granted the rights to the Miami Screaming Eagles along with the players (namely Bernie Parent) that were under contract with the team, from Herb Martin. Brown and Cooper then relocated to Philadelphia and renamed the team the Philadelphia Blazers.[1] Shortly after the relocation to Philadelphia, they came to contract terms with Derek Sanderson, signing him for $2.6 million over 5 years, at the time the highest salary ever paid to a professional sports player. 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 preeminent star to warrant such a payout.

The Blazers had high hopes going into the inaugural WHA season with such stars as Parent, Sanderson, and fellow ex-Bruin 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. The team's first home game on Friday, October 13, 1972 was also a disaster.

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

When the Zamboni drove onto the playing surface, after belatedly arriving at the arena, the improperly-made ice could not support its weight and it began to crack, like the surface of a pond, forcing the game to be rescheduled.

The team started out with a 1-6 record. Philadelphia went on to drop 10 of their next 13 games (a scarcely better performance), by which time Parent and McKenzie returned. During this period (McKenzie was replaced as coach by Phil Watson). By then Sanderson was long gone. After only eight games (scoring three goals and three assists) in Philadelphia and considerable controversy, the owners paid Sanderson one million dollars to void his contract; he promptly returned to the Bruins to finish out the season.

Ticket from the November 22, 1972 game between the Blazers and the Alberta Oilers, one of the four WHA teams which ultimately joined the NHL.

Despite a rough early season, things actually improved for the Blazers towards the end. Ex-Philadelphia Flyer Andre Lacroix led the league in scoring, and ex-Buffalo Sabre Danny Lawson scored 61 goals; they would prove over the years to be two of the WHA's brightest stars, and Lacroix eventually was 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, a discontented 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. 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; he also alleged that Parent was having trouble getting his regular salary and that the team was not paying medical expenses for him. Parent returned to the NHL during the offseason and the next year played for the Stanley-Cup winning Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile the Blazers, once the season ended, headed for Vancouver, sold by owners Brown and Cooper sold to Jim Pattison. The team was renamed the Vancouver Blazers for the 1973-74 season. Replacing them as a WHA team in the Philadelphia area for the 1973-4 season were the New Jersey Knights who, after 10 home games as the New York Golden Blades, moved to the Cherry Hill Arena for the balance of that year.

Season-by-season record[edit]

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

Philadelphia Blazers players[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. 

External links[edit]