New York Raiders
1972/73: If ever there was an unloved team it was the New York Raiders. To build a successful league the WHA knew it needed a team in New York, the media capital of the world. The Raiders intended to play in the Nassau Coliseum along with the ABA’s New York Nets. However, the owners of the Coliseum did not view the WHA favorably and heavily lobbied the NHL for a second New York team, and retained attorney William Shea to get a expansion team leading to the birth of the New York Islanders. The Raiders even had trouble landing players, as they chose to peruse young players from Junior Hockey to fill their roster, many of which chose to stay away from the WHA. After being shut out on Long Island, the Raiders were forced to play at Madison Square Garden, which was well oversized for the team’s small crowds. Coached by former Ranger Camile Henry, the Raiders stated the season with a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on October 12th, beating the Ottawa Nations two nights later 8-6 for their first win. Early on the Raiders played well, as they went into the New Year with a record of 21-17-2. However, after winning just three games in January the Raiders would slip all the way down into last place, finishing with a record of 33-43-2.
1973/74: For their second season, the New York’s WHA team underwent a full makeover becoming the Golden Blades, with new colors and a logo with a skate that looked more like one used in Figure Skating as opposed to a hockey skate. The newly minted Golden Blades signed Andre Lacroix who had played with the Philadelphia Blazers, and was one of the best players in the league. However, nothing could solve the attendance woes as the Blades were largely ignored in the Big Apple, as Defenseman Harry Howell took over for Camile Henry as the team’s coach 21 games into the season. Owner Ralph Brent turned the team over to the league in November, as mounting debts made keeping the team running at the Garden impossible. The team would move to Cherry Hill, New Jersey a Philadelphia suburb at the beginning on December beating the Minnesota Fighting Saints 2-1 in their final game in New York on December 2nd to head down the Turnpike with a record of 8-12-4.
1973/74: After the Philadelphia Blazers moved to Vancouver, the Philadelphia market was open for the WHA. However, instead of playing in the City where the Blazers had failed, the Golden Blades were moved to Cherry Hill and became the Jersey Knights. Cherry Hill Arena was poorly suited for hockey as the ice titled heavily giving the Knights a huge advantage in two of three periods. The locker facilities were severely cramped as visiting teams were forced to change in their hotels before coming to the game, which averaged 500 fans per game. After losing their first game as the Knights on the road against the Houston Aeros, the Knights won their Cherry Hill debut by edging the Cleveland Crusaders 3-2. The Knights played well after their move to Jersey and played their way into playoff contention. However, a six game losing streak to end the season would have the Knights back in last place with an overall record of 32-42-4, as Andre Lacroix led the team with 111 points, highlighted by 80 assists. Despite recording a somewhat better record of 24-30-0 while playing in the Garden State, the Knights would be on the move again to San Diego following the season. Ironically the Jersey Knights’ last game would be in Southern California a 6-4 road loss to the Los Angeles Sharks.
©MMXIII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the World Hockey Association. This site is not affiliated with the New York Raiders or the WHA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 24, 2013. Last updated on July 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm ET.