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The Philadelphia Blazers 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 where it debuted in 1972. After only one season in Philadelphia, the team relocated to Vancouver 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 where they played as the Calgary Cowboys beginning with the 1975–76 WHA season. Philadelphia signed NHL star Derek Sanderson to the largest contract in professional sports history at the time: $2.6 million over 5 years. Probably the most notable player on the team when they were in Philly was Bernie Parent. Outraged with his salary, he left the team during the first round of the playoffs. But he'd stay in town and join the Flyers. And the rest is history.
Notable Players: Bernie Parent, Derek Sanderson, André Lacroix
*The World Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979. It was the first major competition for the NHL since the collapse of the Western Hockey League in 1926.
The WHA hoped to capitalize on the lack of hockey teams in a number of major cities, and it also hoped to attract the best players by paying more than NHL owners would. The WHA successfully challenged the reserve clause, which bound players to their NHL teams even without a valid contract, allowing players in both leagues greater freedom of movement. Sixty-seven players jumped from the NHL to the WHA in the first year, led by star forward Bobby Hull, whose ten-year, $2.75 million contract was a record at the time. Unlike the NHL, the WHA also signed many European players.
The WHA had an acrimonious relationship with the NHL, resulting in numerous legal battles, as well as competition for control of players and markets. In spite of this, merger talks began almost immediately, as the WHA was constantly unstable, with franchises occasionally relocating or folding in the middle of the season. As a result, four teams, the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets joined the NHL for the 1979–80 season, and the WHA ceased operations.
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