1972: When the World Hockey Association was founded the plan was to put teams in big markets and markets that had markets new to the sport of hockey. One of those spots was in Miami, with a team to be called the Miami Screaming Eagles. However, a planned arena was halted due to the plans not conforming to Dade County zoning laws that required one parking spot for every four seats. The team considered playing at the Hollywood Sportatorium. However, the arena was ill-suited to hockey, as the building had no air-conditioning and the roof was partly open. With no home in South Florida the WHA decided that the team instead would play in Philadelphia as the Blazers. Hockey would eventually find the Sunshine State home as the NHL expanded to Tampa and Miami in the 1990’s.
1972/73: Despite the false start in Miami, the WHA had high hopes for the Philadelphia Blazers, despite sharing the city with an up and coming Flyers team in the NHL. The Blazers were aggressive in pursuing familiar players, as they signed former Flyers Goalie Bernie Parent along with John McKenzie and Derek Sanderson from the Boston Bruins. With McKenzie serving as player-coach, the Blazers had problems from the start as McKenzie, Parent and Sanderson were all injured in the pre-season, as the Blazers lost their first game to the New England Whalers 4-3 on October 12th. Things did not go any better when they played their first home game at the Philadelphia Civic Center as the Zamboni malfunctioned and took a chunk of ice out of the playing surface, forcing the game to be rescheduled. After a 1-6-0 start, the Blazers would replace McKenzie as coach with Phil Watson. Derek Sanderson, who signed a record five year contract worth $2.6 million, causing much derision in the sports world as it was the largest contract in any sport at the time was clearly unhappy and after just eight games, in which he had three goals and three assists, Sanderson was bought out for $1 million, returning to the Bruins. The Blazers continued to struggle, losing 10 of their first 13 games with Watson behind the bench. Eventually Parent returned along with John McKenzie and the Blazers would turn their season around, finishing in third place 38-40-0. Keying the turnaround was Andre Lacroix who led the league in scoring with 50 goals and 74 assists. Benefiting most from the play of Lacroix, was Danny Lawson who had 61 goals. Bernie Parent, who was injured at the start of the season, would play 63 games, more than any other goalie in the WHA. However, in the playoffs a frustrated Parent would leave the Blazers after one game as the team was swept in four straight games by the Cleveland Crusaders. Bernie Parent would go on to return to the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, and win two Stanley Cup Championships in the City of Brotherly Love. By the time Parent had begun his second stint with the Flyers, the Blazers were gone, moving to Vancouver after just one season.
©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 Philadelphia Blazers 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 August 3, 2013. Last updated on August 3, 2013 at 1:10 am ET.