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WHA Teams: San Diego Mariners

By Wikipedia

The San Diego Mariners (previously known as the New York Raiders, New York Golden Blades, and the New Jersey Knights) were a professional ice hockey team in the short-lived World Hockey Association (WHA).

At a glance...
Franchise Facts
Established 1972
Disbanded Summer of 1977
Located New York
New Jersey
San Diego
Purchase Price $1.8M (1973)
Owner(s) Neil Shayne
Norman Dachs
L. Madison
D. Richard
Seymour Siegel
Joe Schwartz
Peter Graham
Sam Hartman
New York Raiders (1972-73)
New York Golden Blades
Edmonton Oilers (1973-present)
Madison Square Garden (17,500) 1972-73
Cherry Hill Arena (4,000) 1973-74
San Diego Sports Arena (13,039) 1974-77

The New York Raiders were one of the original World Hockey Association teams founded for a $25,000 fee by Neil Shayne and Norman Dachs. It participated in the first WHA draft. Its coach was Camille Henry and the very first draft pick - second overall - was Al Sims. Sims did not, however, play for the Raiders, but he signed with the Boston Bruins instead.

Intended to be the WHA's flagship franchise, the team was initially slated to play in the brand-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. However, Nassau County didn't consider the WHA a professional league and wanted nothing to do with the Raiders. Nassau County retained William Shea to get an NHL team to play in the new building. The NHL responded by hastily awarding a franchise to Long Island--the New York Islanders.

The Raiders were forced to play in Madison Square Garden, where they faced being tenants to their major competitor, the New York Rangers. The situation rapidly became untenable, with an onerous lease and poor attendance. The three original owners defaulted, and the league ended up taking control of the team midway through the season.

Following the season, D. Richard and Seymour Siegel bought the team and renamed it the New York Golden Blades.

On November 20, 1973, the Golden Blades ceased operation and the league moved the team - to be owned by the WHL - to Cherry Hill, New Jersey and changed their name to the Jersey Knights (though their poor performance - both on and off the ice - led to the unwanted nickname Jersey Nightmares).

In early January, the league announced that it had found another naive businessman to purchase the franchise, marking the third time the team had changed hands in less than two seasons. Construction magnate Joe Schwartz would only say that he "have the intention to stay in Jersey" and wanted to keep the Knights "near the New York market." In February, he announced that he had signed a lease for 1974-75 at the Cherry Hill Arena. But on April 29, the league announced that the team moved to San Diego and would became known as the San Diego Mariners.

Not everyone in San Diego was thrilled about the prospect of a WHA team moving in. The local minor league club claimed to have a lease with the city on the San Diego Sports Arena that was "good until something like 2015." Local officials also thought the move would make the city an unlikely target for NHL expansion. Future California governor and then San Diego Major Pete Wilson claimed the city had found a loophole to send the Mariners back to Jersey. According to Wilson, the city's sublease with the Arena prohibits its use for activities less than "high in caliber." This was not the lowest blow Wilson delivered. He also questioned Schwartz's alleged ties to the mafia. Eventually everyone was compensated to their satisfaction and the Mariners signed a five year lease on the Arena.  

Star players for the Mariners included defenseman Harry Howell, center Andre Lacroix, and goaltender Ernie Wakely. The Mariners were coached by Howell (as player/coach) during their first season and Ron Ingram the succeeding two seasons, qualifying for the WHA playoffs each year.

Team Colors for the Mariners were Orange and Blue. The color scheme is the same as the 1966-74 San Diego Gulls of the old Western Hockey League (minor pro) and again was adopted in the form of throwback jerseys for the current ECHL San Diego Gulls.

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!

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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