1973-74 Aeros.jpg

The 1973-74 WHA season was the second season of the World Hockey Association. Twelve teams each played 78 games. The Philadelphia Blazers relocated to Vancouver, becoming the Vancouver Blazers. They were moved to the Western Division and the Chicago Cougars moved to the Eastern Division. The New York Raiders were renamed the New York Golden Blades and then moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey to become the New Jersey Knights after just 20 games. The Ottawa Nationals moved to Toronto and became the Toronto Toros.

The Houston Aeros defeated the Chicago Cougars 4 games to 0 in the Finals to win their 1st Avco World Trophy.

Off-season[edit | edit source]

Following the 1972-73 WHA season, New York real estate mogul Ralph Brent bought the team and renamed it the New York Golden Blades. While they managed to acquire Andre Lacroix from the Philadelphia Blazers, he was essentially all the franchise had going for it. The team replaced their original orange and blue uniforms with purple and gold uniforms of a unique design, and to coincide with the new identity, the team started the season wearing white skates with gold-colored blades.

Pre-season[edit | edit source]

Golden Blades Andre Lacroix and Dean Boylan in exhibition action against the Aeros, September 25, 1973.

In order to promote the New York Golden Blades, a four team mini-tournament featuring the Houston Aeros, Winnipeg Jets and New England Whalers was held at Madison Square Garden on September 25, 1973.

Regular Season[edit | edit source]

Gordie, Marty and Mark Howe in 1973.

The Houston Aeros lured 45 year old Gordie Howe out of retirement by promising him that he could play with his sons Mark and Marty who were also on the team. Howe responded by having a 100 point season, leading the team in scoring and helping them finish with the best record in the league. The Aeros also received excellent goaltending from Don McLeod and Wayne Rutledge. The defending Western Division champion Winnipeg Jets slipped to 4th place with a sub-.500 record. The other playoff qualifiers in the West were Minnesota and Edmonton.

In the East, defending Avco World Trophy champs New England won their second straight division title followed by Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago.

Final Standings[edit | edit source]

Eastern Division
GP W L T GF GA PIM Pts
New England Whalers 78 43 31 4 291 260 875 90
Toronto Toros 78 41 33 4 304 272 871 86
Cleveland Crusaders 78 37 32 9 266 264 1007 83
Chicago Cougars 78 38 35 5 271 273 1041 81
Quebec Nordiques 78 38 36 4 306 280 909 80
NY Golden Blades / NJ Knights 78 32 42 4 268 313 933 68

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, PIM = Penalties Minutes, Pts = Points
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

Western Division
GP W L T GF GA PIM Pts
Houston Aeros 78 48 25 5 318 219 1038 101
Minnesota Fighting Saints 78 44 32 2 332 275 1243 90
Edmonton Oilers 78 38 37 3 268 269 1273 79
Winnipeg Jets 78 34 39 5 264 296 673 73
Vancouver Blazers 78 27 50 1 278 345 1047 55
Los Angeles Sharks 78 25 53 0 239 339 1086 50

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, PIM = Penalties Minutes, Pts = Points
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.


Scoring Leaders[edit | edit source]

GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Mike Walton Minnesota Fighting Saints 78 57 60 117 88
Andre Lacroix NY Golden Blades / Jersey Knights 78 31 80 111 54
Gordie Howe Houston Aeros 76 31 69 100 46
Wayne Connelly Minnesota Fighting Saints 78 42 53 95 16
Bobby Hull Winnipeg Jets 75 53 42 95 37
Wayne Carleton Toronto Toros 78 37 55 92 31
Bryan Campbell Vancouver Blazers 76 27 62 89 50
Danny Lawson Vancouver Blazers 78 50 38 88 14
Serge Bernier Quebec Nordiques 74 37 49 86 107
Larry Lund Houston Aeros 75 33 53 86 109

Leading Goaltenders[edit | edit source]

GP = Games played; Min = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties, GA = Goals against; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; SV% = Save percentage; GAA = Goals against average

Player Team GP Min W L T GA SO SV% GAA
Don McLeod Houston Aeros 49 2971 33 13 3 127 3 91.1 2.56
Gerry Cheevers Cleveland Crusaders 59 3562 30 20 6 180 4 90.6 3.03
Al Smith New England Whalers 55 3194 30 21 2 164 2 89.5 3.08
Cam Newton Chicago Cougars 45 2732 25 18 2 143 1 89.4 3.14
Jack Norris Edmonton Oilers 53 2954 23 24 1 158 2 89.8 3.21

All-Star Game[edit | edit source]

Mike Walton scores on Gerry Cheevers, 2nd WHA All-Star Game, January 3, 1974.

On January 3, 1974 at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, MN, a team comprised of the Eastern Division All-Stars defeated the Western Division All-Stars 8-4 before a crowd of 13,196 spectators. Mike Walton, who had a Hat trick in a losing effort, was the game's MVP.

Avco World Trophy Playoffs[edit | edit source]

The West Division playoffs went according to form, with the top 2 seeds, Houston and Minnesota, easily disposing of Edmonton and Winnipeg respectively. In the east, Toronto won as expected over Cleveland, but Chicago shocked the WHA by upsetting the defending champion New England Whalers in 7 games, winning 3 of the 4 games in New England. In the division Finals, favored Houston defeated Minnesota in 6 games, while Chicago pulled its second upset by beating Toronto in 7 games, outscoring the Toros 14-4 in winning games 6 and 7.

  Quarter-finals Semi-finals Finals
                           
  E1  New England Whalers 3  
E4  Chicago Cougars 4  
  E4  Chicago Cougars 4  
Eastern Division
  E2  Toronto Toros 3  
E2  Toronto Toros 4
  E3  Cleveland Crusaders 1  
    E4  Chicago Cougars 0
  W1  Houston Aeros 4
  W1  Houston Aeros 4  
W4  Winnipeg Jets 0  
W1  Houston Aeros 4
Western Division
  W2  Minnesota Fighting Saints 2  
W2  Minnesota Fighting Saints 4
  W3  Edmonton Oilers 1  

Avco World Trophy Finals[edit | edit source]

Larry Lund scores the sixth Aeros goal, Game 4 of the 1974 Avco World Trophy Finals, May 19, 1974.

When the Chicago Cougars won their series versus the Toronto Toros, the Peter Pan show had moved on, and the International Amphitheatre should have been available. However, the Amphitheatre had a portable ice surface. For reasons that were never stated, the Amphitheatre staff decided the hockey season was over so uncovered and dismantled the copper pipes used to chill the ice. The Cougars had no choice but to return to the Randhurst Ice Arena, a 2,000 seat public skating rink, for the Finals. The Cougars never quite recovered from the public relations disaster. One sports reporter had quipped, "The Cougars were beaten by the greatest lightweight of them all - Peter Pan."

The Cougars ran out of magic in the Finals as Houston swept them in four straight, outscoring them 22-9.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 May 12 Houston Aeros 3–2 Chicago Cougars 1–0
2 May 15 Houston Aeros 6–1 Chicago Cougars 2–0
3 May 17 Chicago Cougars 4–7 Houston Aeros 3–0
4 May 19 Chicago Cougars 2–6 Houston Aeros 4–0

WHA Awards[edit | edit source]

Avco World Trophy: Houston Aeros
Gary L. Davidson Award (MVP): Gordie Howe, Houston Aeros
Bill Hunter Trophy (Scoring Leader): Mike Walton, Minnesota Fighting Saints
Lou Kaplan Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Mark Howe, Houston Aeros
Ben Hatskin Trophy (Best Goaltender): Don McLeod, Houston Aeros
Dennis A. Murphy Trophy (Best Defenseman): Pat Stapleton, Chicago Cougars
Paul Deneau Trophy (Most Gentlemenly): Ralph Backstrom, Chicago Cougars
Howard Baldwin Trophy (Coach of the Year): Bill Harris, Toronto Toros

All-Star Teams[edit | edit source]

73-74WHAAllStars.jpg
Position First Team Second Team
Centre André Lacroix, New York/Jersey Wayne Carleton, Toronto
Right Wing Gordie Howe, Houston Mike Walton, Minnesota
Left Wing Bobby Hull, Winnipeg Mark Howe, Houston
Defence Pat Stapleton, Chicago J. C. Tremblay, Quebec
Defence Paul Shmyr, Cleveland Al Hamilton, Edmonton
Goaltender Don McLeod, Houston Gerry Cheevers, Cleveland

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
1972-73 WHA season
WHA seasons Succeeded by
1974-75 WHA season
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