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WHA Teams: Phoenix Roadrunners

By Patrick Mondout

The Phoenix Roadrunners were a professional ice hockey team in the short-lived World Hockey Association (WHA).

At a glance...
Franchise Facts
Established 1974
Disbanded April 6, 1977
Located Phoenix, Arizona
Purchase Price $2M (1974)
Owner(s) Bert Gaetz
Karl Eller
Phoenix Roadrunners (1974-1977)
Veterans Memorial Coliseum (12,800)

Major league hockey finally came to the desert in the form of the WHA's expansion Phoenix Roadrunners. The city was "awarded" the franchise in 1973 (along with Indianapolis) and began play in the 1974-75 season.

Coach Sandy Hucul led the expansion Roadrunners to a 39-31-8 record and received the Robert Schmertz Memorial Trophy as coach of the year for 1974-75.

The star of the Roadrunners was center Robbie Ftorek, who won the Gordie Howe trophy as the association's MVP for the 1976-1977 season. It was the first time an American-born player had won an MVP award in a major hockey league. Sadly for Roadrunner fans, it was also only the second time that a player from a last place team won the award.

Rumored to be losing $2M a year, the Roadrunners were unable to outrun wily creditors. Team owner Karl Eller searched for new investors throughout the 1976-1977 season before announcing the April 6, 1977 season finale would also be the swan song for his desert birds.

The Roadrunners had replaced an existing minor league team by the same name and was replaced multiple times by subsequent teams before the until former WHA entry Winnipeg moved the NHL into the Valley of the Sun as the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996.

Season-by-Season Record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1974-75 78 39 31 8 86 300 265 1388 4th in Western Lost in first round
1975-76 78 39 35 4 82 302 287 1292 2nd in Western Lost in first round
1976-77 80 28 48 4 60 281 383 915 6th in Western Out of playoffs

WHA Bibliography
The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association by Ed Willes
The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association by Scott Adam Surgent
WHA Pro Hockey '75 - '76 by Dan Proudfoot
WHA Media Guides (each team published one each year)

These and many other WHA items can be found at eBay - check our links on the far right of this page!

Share Your Memories!

We have a WHA Forum! Our sites have always been by you and about you. If you check our TV Forums or our Technology & Science forums, you'll find literally thousands of messages from fans of 1970s TV shows, survivors of hurricanes or aircraft accidents, etc. from all over the world sharing their memories, asking questions, making comments. Our baseball section is new, but don't let that stop you from sharing your memories of WHA games you saw, now-forgotten stadiums, etc. Of course you can also ask questions, post trivia, or just read what others are saying.

--Patrick Mondout



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