WHA2, Pelham to go retro

Special to the Reporter

Peter Young, Co-founder and President of Hockey Operations of the World Hockey Association 2 (WHA2), recently announced that for opening night of the 2003-04 season all WHA2 home teams, including the new WHA2 Alabama team which will play in the Pelham Civic Complex, will wear the jersey of a former World Hockey Association (WHA) team.

&uot;What an outstanding way to honor the greats from the original WHA,&uot; Young said.

&uot;On opening night in each of our rinks the home team will wear an original WHA jersey, with the crest of the new WHA2 team on the front, and the crest of the original team as a shoulder patch.&uot;

The original WHA played for seven seasons from 1972 to 1979.

Twelve teams in two divisions were part of the original WHA’s first season.

The Cleveland Crusaders, the New England Whalers, the New York Raiders, the Ottawa Nationals, the Philadelphia Blazers, and the Quebec Nordiques made up the Eastern Division.

Western Division teams included the Alberta Oilers, the Chicago Cougars, the Houston Aeros, the Los Angeles Sharks, the Minnesota Fighting Saints, and the Winnipeg Jets.

&uot;Each coach in the WHA2 will ultimately decide on what jersey to wear but we’re going to ask our fans for input as well,&uot; Young said.

Coach Garry Unger has a pretty natural choice in Pelham with the Bulls.

In Lakeland, former Winnipegger and one of the Loggerheads principal shareholders, Brian Hodge is leaning towards a Jets jersey.

In Jacksonville, Coach Ron Duguay will likely consider the Houston Aeros, the team which originally drafted him.

Coach Zac Boyer in Miami has to be leaning towards the Miami Screaming Eagles, a team that never even played a game in their uniforms.

For each team’s home opener WHA2 will honor a former star of the WHA.

&uot;We’ll bring in some of the all-time greats to drop the puck,&uot; Young said.

&uot;Bobby Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Parent, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, Pat Stapleton, Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson, Ken Linseman, the Hanson Brothers, they all played in the original WHA and we’d like to find a way to pay tribute to them all over the course of the season,&uot; Young said.

The original WHA enjoyed a colorful history and was able to place teams in non-traditional hockey markets.

It pioneered European scouting and attracting corporate sponsorships.

Co-founders of the new WHA, Dr. Nick Vaccaro and Allan Howell, plan to give the WHA a new lease on life when the league takes the ice for the 2004 &045; 2005 season.

&uot;We are thrilled that the WHA2 is honoring the great teams and players of the past.&uot; Howell said.

&uot;We look forward to having several more of these types of promotions throughout the season.&uot;