WHA: Andre Lacroix could have started his own travel agency
MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency
|Andre Lacroix holds a number of records in the WHA, including games played, assists and total points.
Diminutive Andre Lacroix was the statistical giant of the WHA, becoming the league’s all-time leader in games played (551), assists (547) and total points (799).
The slick 5-foot-7 centre also had the singular honour of playing for six different teams in the rebel league without ever officially being traded.
Lacroix started with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73, then joined the New York Golden Blades after refusing to move when the Blazers relocated to Vancouver the following season.
Thanks to franchise shifts, Lacroix also skated for the New Jersey Knights, San Diego Mariners, Houston Aeros and New England Whalers, and his contract was once briefly owned by the Winnipeg Jets.
Ron Ward, who notched just seven points in 89 NHL games with Vancouver and Toronto, played for five different WHA clubs. Ward sniped 51 goals for the New York Raiders in 1972-73, and set a major league record by scoring five times in 25 minutes and 25 seconds in a 9-4 rout of the Ottawa Nationals.
Speaking of prodigious scoring feats, original Alberta Oiler Jim Harrison led the team with 39 goals and 87 points in the WHA’s debut season.
On Jan. 30, 1973, he became the first major leaguer in the modern era to score 10 points in one game, firing three goals and seven assists in Alberta’s 11-2 romp over New York at Madison Square Garden.
Harrison had another seven-assist game two years later as a member of the Cleveland Crusaders. After the Crusaders folded in 1976, he returned to the NHL with the Chicago Black Hawks.
Franchise movements were a fact of life in the WHA almost from Day 1.
Two weeks after the league’s inaugural draft, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Bernie Parent became the first ‘name’ NHLer to defect when he signed a five-year deal with the Miami Screaming Eagles for a reported $750,000. Days later, the Miami franchise was transferred to Philadelphia and became the Blazers.
The Quebec Nordiques started life as an unnamed team in San Francisco before being purchased by Quebec City businessman Paul Racine, while the Calgary Broncos franchise was transferred to Cleveland and became the Crusaders. The Houston Aeros, meanwhile, started out as the Dayton (Ohio) Arrows, but moved to Texas before the debut season.
In total, 26 teams saw action in the WHA. Here’s the alphabetical rundown:
Alberta Oilers (switched to Edmonton in 1973); Baltimore Blades; Birmingham Bulls; Calgary Cowboys; Chicago Cougars; Cincinnati Stingers; Cleveland Crusaders; Denver Spurs; Houston Aeros; Indianapolis Racers; Los Angeles Sharks; Michigan Stags; Minnesota Fighting Saints; New England Whalers; New Jersey Knights; New York Golden Blades; New York Raiders; Ottawa Civics; Ottawa Nationals; Philadelphia Blazers; Phoenix Roadrunners; Quebec Nordiques; San Diego Mariners; Toronto Toros; Vancouver Blazers; Winnipeg Jets.
Only Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec and New England survived for the entire seven years.