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The Cincinnati Stingers franchise was awarded in 1974 as part of the WHA's expansion. They entered the league for the 1975-76 season along with the Denver Spurs. The Stingers, along with the Birmingham Bulls, were paid to disband when the WHA ceased operations in 1979.
Notable Players: Mike Gartner, Mark Messier, Mike Liut
*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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