The Houston Aeros lured 45-year-old Gordie Howe out of retirement by promising him that he could play with his sons Mark and Marty who were also on the team. Howe responded by having a 100 point season, leading the team in scoring and helping them finish with the best record in the league. The Aeros also received excellent goaltending from Don McLeod and Wayne Rutledge. The defending Western Division champion Winnipeg Jets slipped to 4th place with a sub-.500 record. The other playoff qualifiers in the West were Minnesota and Edmonton.
In the East, defending Avco World Trophy champs New England won their second straight division title followed by Toronto, Cleveland, and Chicago.
The West Division playoffs went according to form, with the top 2 seeds, Houston and Minnesota, easily disposing of Edmonton and Winnipeg respectively. In the east, Toronto won as expected over Cleveland, but Chicago shocked the WHA by upsetting the defending champion New England Whalers in 7 games, winning 3 of the 4 games in New England. In the division finals, favored Houston defeated Minnesota in six games, while Chicago pulled its second upset by beating Toronto in 7 games, outscoring the Toros 14-4 in winning games 6 and 7. They ran out of magic in the finals however, as Houston swept them in four straight, outscoring them 22-9.