|Type of memorabilia|
1 In StockSKU: 00044DC
This was the first year of the San Diego Mariners. Arguably San Diego’s finest hockey team. Prior to the WHA Mariners arrival the minor league WHL San Diego Gulls were were routinely out-drawing NHL teams like the Oakland Seals, Pittsburg Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings and looking like a shoo-in for an NHL expansion team. Sellout crowds of 13,039 were common on weekends. Instead, the NHL went to Buffalo and Vancouver in 1970 and Atlanta and Long Island in 1972 (the year the WHA started).
The WHA’s New Jersey Knights were drawing horribly in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, after playing parts of 2 seasons in Madison Square Garden, New York, as the New York Raiders, then the New York Golden Blades (really). They moved in to the San Diego Sports Arena and pushed the WHL Gulls out. Although the Mariners had an excellent team and a superstar named Andre Lacroix, attendance wasn’t near what the Gulls drew and fans showed they preferred the NHL.
Personally, I wish San Diego fans had the same perspective as AFL Chargers fans (to support the team we had and somehow force a merger with the league we wanted). Had they supported this team the Mariners surely would have been included with the NHL/WHA merger. Instead, attendance just above 6,000 a game wasn’t enough and the team folded after 3 years. I loved the Mariners and remember many exciting games. I saw Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull and many other superstars come to town. This was definitely not minor league hockey.
After the WHA Mariners folded, a new minor league was formed, the Pacific Hockey League (PHL), and San Diego’s entry was called the Mariners. The PHL lasted 2 years and allowed San Diego and Phoenix 2 more years with pro hockey. Then there was a 10 year drought with no pro hockey.
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1 in stock