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.
The franchise was originally intended to be based in 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 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, Canada where they played as the Calgary Cowboys beginning with the 1975–76 WHA season. Two years later, the franchise folded.
In June 1972, Bernard Brown and James Cooper were granted the rights to the Miami Screaming Eagles along with the players (namely Bernie Parent) whom were under contract with the team, from business man Herb Martin. Brown and Cooper then relocated to Philadelphia and renamed the team the Philadelphia Blazers.
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, it was 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.
During this period, McKenzie was 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 of the Philadelphia Civic Center 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.
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, staying in Philadelphia and playing for the Stanley-Cup winning Flyers.
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 as the Vancouver Blazers.
|1972–73||Philadelphia Blazers||78||38||40||0||76||288||305||1260||3rd, Eastern||Lost Quarterfinals (Crusaders)|
Hall of Fame
Twelve players from the Philadelphia Blazers went on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Most notably Bernie Parent, who won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers. Also, Derek Sanderson (who signed the biggest contract in sports at that time) was admitted into the Hall of Fame.
- Bernie Parent
- Derek Sanderson
- Bryan Campbell
- Dave Hutchison
- Andre Lacroix
- Danny Lawson
- John McKenzie
- Don O'Donoghue
- Marcel Paille
- Ron Plumb
- Irv Spencer
- Claude St. Sauveur
- Yves Archambault G Montreal, QC
- John Bennett W Cranston, RI
- Bob Brown D Toronto, ONT
- Michel Boudreau Asbestos, Quebec, Canada
- Don Burgess L Point Edward, ONT
- Bryan Campbell C Sudbury, ONT
- Rychard Campeau D Montreal, QC
- Jim Cardiff D Dauphin, MAN
- Jack Chipchase D Seaforth, ONT
- Tom Cottringer G Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
- Sam Gellard W Port of Spain, Trinidad
- Frank Golembrosky R Calgary, ALTA
- John Gravel D Montreal, QC
- Derek Harker C Peterborough, ONT
- Pierre Henry F Montreal, QC
- Don Herriman L Sault Ste. Marie, ONT
- Dave Hutchison D London, ONT
- Andre Lacroix C Lauzon, QC
- Camille LaPierre Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada
- Danny Lawson R Toronto, ONT
- Larry Mavety D Woodstock, ONT
- John McKenzie R High River, ALTA
- Denis Meloche F Montreal, QC
- John Migneault R Gulf Lake, SASK
- Wayne Mosdell D Montreal, QC
- Darwin Mott F Creelman, SASK
- Murray Myers R
- Don O'Donoghue F Kingston, ONT
- Pierre Paiement Montreal, Quebec
- Marcel Paille G Shawinigan Falls, QC
- Bernie Parent G Montreal, QC
- Michel Plante F Drummondville, QC
- Ron Plumb D Kingston, ONT
- Nick Polano D Sudbury, ONT
- Michel Rouleau L Hull, QC
- Derek Sanderson C Niagara Falls, ONT
- Irv Spencer D Sudbury, ONT
- Claude St. Sauveur C St. Hyacinthe, QC
- Daniel Sullivan G Kimberley, BC