Brief timeline of the World Hockey Association

After taking part in the World Junior Hockey Championship with Team Canada, Wayne Gretzky would...

After taking part in the World Junior Hockey Championship with Team Canada, Wayne Gretzky would play for the Edmonton Oilers in their last season in the WHA. (QMI Agency/Files)

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1971: Founded by American promoters Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson. They also founded the American Basketball Association in 1967. The pair, along with Western Canada Hockey League president Bill Hunter, began their search for potential owners.

Sept. 1971: Announced that the league would begin in 1972 with 10 teams. Each team paid a franchise fee of $25,000.

Nov. 1971: The league names 12 teams that would start the following season. But some teams would go on to relocate while others folded, with the league replacing them to keep the loop at 12.

Oct. 11, 1972: The Alberta Oilers defeated the Ottawa Nationals 7-4 in the WHA's inaugural game at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

May 6, 1973: The New England Whalers win the first WHA championship over the Winnipeg Jets. While the Avco Cup was not ready to be handed out, the Whalers had to skate around with their divisional championship trophy instead.

Sept. 1974: The WHA set up an eight-game series for Canadian players that came two years after the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union after the NHL refused to use players who jumped to the new hockey league. The Soviets won the series 4-1-3.

May 27, 1976: The Winnipeg Jets become the first Canadian team to win the Avco Cup, sweeping the Houston Aeros 4-0. Both teams had the most points (106) during the regular season.

1976: WHA teams started feeling the financial pinch after years of high salaries and an inferior product on the ice did not attract a substantial amount of fans.

1977: The WHA entered into discussions with the NHL about merging six teams (Houston, Cincinnati, Winnipeg, New England, Quebec, and Edmonton). The NHL voted the proposal down.

1978: The WHA resumed merger discussions, this time without Houston, but the NHL was not interested. The Aeros would fold on July 6, 1978.

1979: During the WHA's final season, only six teams remained. Facing financial difficulty, the league came to an agreement to allow the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and New England Whalers (later renamed Hartford Whalers) would join the NHL for the 1979-80 season. The two WHA teams not involved in the merger -- the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls -- were each paid $1.5 million in compensation.

May 20, 1979: The Winnipeg Jets win their third and final WHA championship, edging the Edmonton Oilers four games to two. The Oilers had a future NHL star in Wayne Gretzky, who played as a 17-year-old for the Indianapolis Racers before being traded eight games into the season.


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