Friday, July 15, 2011
July by the Numbers returns to North America for jersey #15.
When the World Hockey Association held it's first three All-Star games in the early 1970's they held to the traditional East vs. West format, but for the 1976 game, a change was made on the occasion of the bicentennial of the United States.
The format for the 1976 WHA All-Star Game pitted the All-Stars from the teams based in the US against the All-Stars from the franchises located in Canada. This was not the same as the "World vs. North America" format first used for the 1997 NHL All-Star format where the players were divided based on the location of each players nationality, but the location of the franchise for which they played.
1976 WHA All-Star Game Program
A quick glance at the WHA standings would suggest that the United States team would have a distinct advantage since there were nine US based teams from which to draw players, while the Canadian based teams numbered just five.
The division of players by club location certainly made for a mixed, if not confusing and absurd pair of rosters, as Canadians Gerry Cheevers, Paul Shmyr, Pat Stapleton, Kevin Morrison, John Schella, Rick Ley, Andre Lacroix, Gene Peacosh, Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Claude Larose, Mike Walton, Wayne Carleton, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Webster and Don Borgeson and Swede Christer Abrahamsson made up Team USA along with just three actual Americans, Marty Howe, Mark Howe (who were born in Michigan while their Canadian father Gordie played for the Detroit Red Wings) and Massachusetts native Robbie Ftorek.
Meanwhile, Team Canada consisted of 14 Canadians as well as Swedes Lars-Erik Sjoberg, Thommie Bergman, Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson and Czechoslovak Vaclav Nedomansky!
The contest was played in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Cleveland Crusaders and was witnessed by a healthy crowd of 15,491. Despite the perceived advantage of having a larger talent pool to pick from, the "Americans" fell to Team Canada by a lopsided 6-1 score. Team Canada MVP was Canadian Real Cloutier following his hat trick, while Team USA MVP was Crusader (and Canadian) Shmyr.
1976 WHA All-Star Game Ticket
Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Team USA WHA All-Star Game Wayne Carleton jersey. This lightweight mesh jersey has the WHA logo on the upper left chest and the American Bicentennial logo on both shoulders and the lower right front of the jersey.
It's actual decoration in minimal, with four narrow sleeve stripes and a trio of stars down each arm. The simplistic block USA on the front and the lack of waist stripes gives the jersey a stark appearance, not unlike that of a modern practice jersey.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1975-76 Team Canada WHA All-Star Game Vaclav Nedomansky jersey. This red mesh jersey is more successful in appearance than the USA version, with it's Canadian flags on the shoulders, diagonal "Canada" across the front, adorned with balanced WHA and a maple leaf logos on either side, as well as maple leafs running down each arm and a pair of waist stripes. While it scores no points for originality, as it is essentially a copy of the 1974 Summit Series jersey with some detail differences, such as two waist stripes rather than three, it is still a pleasing effort all around.