Thursday, July 19, 2012
July by the Numbers makes a stop in Detroit, Michigan for it's brief entry in the WHA.
The Los Angeles Sharks were one of the original WHA clubs, formed in 1972. Following their second season, they were sold to new owners, who relocated the team to Detroit and renamed them the Michigan Stags. They were hoping to take advantage of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings current losing ways (one playoff appearance in the previous eight seasons) and develop a rivalry with the Toronto Toros.
Gary Desjardins in net for the Stags
Keeping the red and black color scheme of the Sharks, and hoping to fill the Cobo Arena's 12,000 seats, things did not work out as planned. The Stags carried over the poor play on the ice of the last placed Sharks and could not secure a TV deal either, as only one Stags game was ever televised, their season opener in Indianapolis, which was unfortunately played at the same time as Game 5 of baseball's 1974 World Series.
October 12, 1974 - the Michigan Stags home opener at Cobo Arena
After winning their first game 4-2, the club showed it's true colors, losing 11 of their next 12 games, killing any hope of being seen by the fans as a superior product to the downtrodden Red Wings. When attendance averaged 3,000 per game, the club quickly ran into money problems which forced the trade of star Marc Tardif to the Quebec Nordiques in early December.
Six weeks later the Stags were no more, with the owners folding the team on January 19th with a poor 18-40-3 record after only 61 games played, even before legendary Detroit Red Wing Gordie Howe could return to Detroit for a scheduled game in February, which certainly would have resulted in a Stags attendance record had the club only lasted long enough.
With the league now as owners, a week later the team was resurrected and placed in Baltimore, now known as the Blades, where they had to compete with the new Washington Capitals of the NHL. The Blades finished the remaining 17 games of the schedule, going a dismal 3-13-1, prior to folding after the season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Michigan Stags Alain Caron jersey. The Stags used the same basic jersey as their predecessor Sharks, only with a new, nicely executed logo, with the Stag's legs forming a subtle "M" for Michigan. While not the most dynamic logo ever, it was clean and graphic and has aged very well.
Today's audio file is some classic Stags radio play-by-play action from a game versus the New England Whalers in the 1974-75 season.