Hockey Feet

Feb. 10, 1973

Boston Garden was a busy place in 1973. The Bruins and Celtics were joined by the Braves (the B’s AHL club) and the the New England Whalers of the fledgling World Hockey Association.

The WHA harbored sweet dreams that it would one day rival the NHL. Ultimately, those dreams were delusions of grandeur. And while it lasted seven seasons, the Bruins certainly never considered the Whalers much of a threat to their empire, which still featured Bobby Orr as the face of the franchise.

So they were quite happy with the Whalers coming on as Garden tenants. Unfortunately for the Whalers, they were a distant fourth when it came to scheduling.

As an example: On the second Friday in February, 1973, the Whalers were scheduled for an afternoon game against Ottawa Nationals.

The Nationals took down the Whalers before a crowd estimated at about 4,000.

The Garden Bull Gang transformed the joint into a basketball arena in time for the Celtics to beat the Detroit Pistons before 10.598.

The Whalers occasionally used tiny, old Boston Arena as a home away from home.

For the 1974-75 season the Whalers skipped town and went to Hartford – and played the first half of their season at the Big E.Coliseum in Springfield, Mass.

They had to head back to Springfield when the Hartford Civic Center roof collapsed in 1978. The city blamed an unusually snowy winter – and that was before the Blizzard of ’78. An investigation revealed shoddy construction practices.

The Whalers were one of four WHA teams admitted into the NHL when the leagues merged in 1979. In 1997 they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and became the Hurricanes.

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