Monday, July 8, 2013

1974-75 Michigan Stags Dan Gruen Jersey

July by the Numbers continues with jersey #8 from the Michigan Stags.

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 and develop a rivalry with the Toronto Toros.

Gary Desjardins Stags,Gary Desjardins Stags
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 began their existence with a six game road trip, displaced by a circus at the start of the season. They carried over the poor play on the ice of the last placed Sharks and could not secure a TV deal either. 

At every turn, financial issues affected the club, as the new owners had no idea how much money it would take to operate a professional hockey team and were short of funds right out of the gate. Bus drivers would not take the team anywhere until paid in advance, hotels would not let them check in without being paid up front and there was not a curved stick in sight since the club got a deal on straight bladed sticks for a bargain price!

When attendance averaged 3,000 per game, the club's money problems which forced the trade of star forward Marc Tardif to the Quebec Nordiques in early December.

Tardif Stags photo MarcTardifStags.png
Tardif appears glum at the thought of being a Stag

Six weeks later the Stags were no more, with the owners folding the team on January 19th after only 61 games, even before legendary Red Wing Gordie Howe could return to Detroit for a game which certainly would have set a franchise attendance record.

With the league now as owners, a week later the team was resurrected and placed in Baltimore, now known as the Blades, where they 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 Dan Gruen 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.

When the team played it's final contest in Cleveland, creditors literally caught up to the team and repossessed their jerseys, forcing the club to play their last game in generic jerseys without any logo!

Michigan Stags jersey
Michigan Stags jersey

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.

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