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The Rebel League

The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association

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eBook published by McClelland & Stewart (McClelland & Stewart)

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About This Book
The wildest seven years in the history of hockey

The Rebel League celebrates the good, the bad, and the ugly of the fabled WHA. It is filled with hilarious anecdotes, behind the scenes dealing, and simply great hockey. It tells the story of Bobby Hull’s astonishing million-dollar signing, which helped launch the league, and how he lost his toupee in an on-ice scrap.It explains how a team of naked Birmingham Bulls ended up in an arena concourse spoiling for a brawl. How the Oilers had to smuggle fugitive forward Frankie “Seldom” Beaton out of their dressing room in an equipment bag. And how Mark Howe sometimes forgot not to yell “Dad!” when he called for his teammate father, Gordie, to pass. There’s the making of Slap Shot, that classic of modern cinema, and the making of the virtuoso line of Hull, Anders Hedberg, and Ulf Nilsson.

It began as the moneymaking scheme of two California lawyers. They didn’t know much about hockey, but they sure knew how to shake things up. The upstart WHA introduced to the world 27 new hockey franchises, a trail of bounced cheques, fractious lawsuits, and folded teams. It introduced the crackpots, goons, and crazies that are so well remembered as the league’s bizarre legacy.

But the hit-and-miss league was much more than a travelling circus of the weird and wonderful. It was the vanguard that drove hockey into the modern age. It ended the NHL’s monopoly, freed players from the reserve clause, ushered in the 18-year-old draft, moved the game into the Sun Belt, and put European players on the ice in numbers previously unimagined.

The rebel league of the WHA gave shining stars their big-league debut and others their swan song, and provided high-octane fuel for some spectacular flameouts. By the end of its seven years, there were just six teams left standing, four of which – the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and Hartford Whalers – would wind up in the expanded NHL.


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
The wildest seven years in the history of hockey

The Rebel League celebrates the good, the bad, and the ugly of the fabled WHA. It is filled with hilarious anecdotes, behind the scenes dealing, and simply great hockey. It tells the story of Bobby Hull’s astonishing million-dollar signing, which helped launch the league, and how he lost his toupee in an on-ice scrap.It explains how a team of naked Birmingham Bulls ended up in an arena concourse spoiling for a brawl. How the Oilers had to smuggle fugitive forward Frankie “Seldom” Beaton out of their dressing room in an equipment bag. And how Mark Howe sometimes forgot not to yell “Dad!” when he called for his teammate father, Gordie, to pass. There’s the making of Slap Shot, that classic of modern cinema, and the making of the virtuoso line of Hull, Anders Hedberg, and Ulf Nilsson.

It began as the moneymaking scheme of two California lawyers. They didn’t know much about hockey, but they sure knew how to shake things up. The upstart WHA introduced to the world 27 new hockey franchises, a trail of bounced cheques, fractious lawsuits, and folded teams. It introduced the crackpots, goons, and crazies that are so well remembered as the league’s bizarre legacy.

But the hit-and-miss league was much more than a travelling circus of the weird and wonderful. It was the vanguard that drove hockey into the modern age. It ended the NHL’s monopoly, freed players from the reserve clause, ushered in the 18-year-old draft, moved the game into the Sun Belt, and put European players on the ice in numbers previously unimagined.

The rebel league of the WHA gave shining stars their big-league debut and others their swan song, and provided high-octane fuel for some spectacular flameouts. By the end of its seven years, there were just six teams left standing, four of which – the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and Hartford Whalers – would wind up in the expanded NHL.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
eBook
Published: March 18, 2011
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Imprint: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 9781551996004
Other books byEd Willes
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    Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr, all on the same team — in their prime. The greatest collection of hockey talent ever assembled, playing the games of their lives. Three epic 6-5 contests between Canada and the Soviet Union decided the ’87 Canada Cup. Canada evened the series, after the Soviets won Game 1, when Gretzky’s fifth assist of the game set up Lemieux’s hat trick, ending Game 2 in double overtime. Game 2 is widely considered one of the greatest hockey games ever played. With time running out in Game 3, after Canada battled back from a 3-0 deficit, Team Canada coach Mike Keenan sent the Gretzky / Lemieux / Hawerchuk line on the ice for a faceoff in Canada’s end. The rest is history as Gretzky, Lemieux, and Larry Murphy rushed up the ice, Gretzky skating on the left wing, setting up Lemieux’s game-winner in the slot with 1:26 left in the game. Gretzky’s pass to Lemieux, followed by Lemieux’s goal, is one of the most memorable plays in hockey history. Gretzky to Lemieux captures the on-ice drama that led to the historic three-game final, and the stories behind it. Ed Willes adds depth and weight to the games by revealing the rebellion among Soviet hockey stars in the early days of Glasnost and a crumbling Soviet Union; the trouble brewing for Alan Eagleson; the ascendancy of Mario Lemieux; and the end of the glorious Gretzky era in Edmonton. Packed with interviews of players and coaches, Gretzky to Lemieux tells the full story of the greatest hockey ever played. From the Hardcover edition.

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