November 15, 2010

National Hockey League. 1972-73 season, with the 2 expansion teams – the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders.

Filed under: Hockey,Hockey-NHL and expansion — admin @ 6:55 pm

NHL 1972-73 map.

1972-73 NHL season at
The 1972-73 National Hockey League season saw the NHL faced with rival-league competition for the first time since 1926 (when the original Western Hockey League had it’s final season). This competition came in the form of the World Hockey Association, which ended up playing 7 seasons before putting four franchises into the NHL in 1979-80. [My map and post on the World Hockey League can be seen here.] The NHL’s reaction to the upstart WHA went from indifference to mobilization pretty quickly, and a hastily-assembled expansion was put forward to block the WHA from establishing teams in Long Island, New York, and in Atlanta, Georgia. So the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames joined the NHL, making it a 16-team league. Then players started bolting from the NHL to the WHA, and the big losers included the NY Islanders who lost 11 players to the WHA (!), and the California Golden Seals, who lost 8 players. I find it very significant that many players back then would rather risk their careers to play in the very unstable and unproven WHA than in the long-established NHL on ersatz hockey clubs like the Golden Seals.
Montreal Canadians were champions in 1972-73, beating the Chicago Black Hawks 4 games to 2 in the 1973 Stanley Cup finals {playoff bracket, here}. This season and the next (1973-74) were the last seasons the NHL utilized a two-division format (a two-division format existed in the NHL from 1926-27 to 1937-38, and from 1967-68 to 1973-74). In 1974-75, yet another two teams joined the league and 4 divisions were created. That will be elaborated on in my next NHL and Expansion post, on Thursday.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, 2010-11 NHL season.
Thanks to, NHL Jerseys.
Thanks to Jersey Database site, where I got the 1972-73 jerseys, Jersey Database/Hockey

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