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The Los Angeles Sharks played in the World Hockey Association from 1972-74. Their primary home arena was the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena but they sometimes played at the Long Beach Sports Arena when the Sports Arena had other contractual obligations. At the end of the ’74 season the franchise moved to Detroit to become the Michigan Stags.
Notable Players: Gary Veneruzzo, J.P. LeBlanc
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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