In continuation with the history of the Winnipeg Jets, let’s start the new year with a watershed moment in the team and city’s history. When the Jets brought home their first of three WHA Avco Cup world championships.
The 1975/76 WHA season was the fourth for the Winnipeg Jets. After losing the Avco Cup final to the New England Whalers in their first season, (1972/73), they hadn’t been back to the finals since.
Led by “The Hot Line”, consisting of LW Bobby Hull, C Ulf Nilsson, and RW Anders Hedberg, the Jets finished first in the Canadian Division with a 52-27-2 record, and would go on to win their first of three Avco Cup championships.
Their draft that year consisted of:
1 8 Brad Gassoff
2 22 Russ Anderson
3 38 Glen Richardson
4 53 Ted Long
6 81 Nick Bobstock
9 119 Jim Gustafson
10 132 Dag Bredberg
11 145 Emil Mesgaros
12 156 Torbjorn Nilsson
13 166 Bengt Lundholm
The Jets continued to reload their roster before beginning the 1975-1976 season, as they not only brought back the Europeans they added the prior season, but added Willy Lindstrom, Mats Lindh, along with veteran defenseman Ted Green. Bill Lesuk, Lyle Moffat and Peter Sullivan were also added to go along with new coach Bobby Kromm. The result was to pay immediate dividends, as the Jets got off to a 7-2 start and never looked back, as they proceeded to post not only the best record in team history, but co-led the league with 106 points, sharing the lead with the two-time defending Avco Cup champion Houston Aeros.
The Jets finished first in their division, and posted a winning mark in each month of the regular season, with the exception of April, when they played only three games that month. The Jets swept the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the playoffs, then disposed of the Calgary Cowboys in the second round, 4-1, as they dropped a 7-3 decision in Game 4 in Calgary, which would have given them their second consecutive sweep.
Winnipeg moved on to play the Aeros in the Avco Cup final, and for the second time in three series, posted another sweep, the final game coming in Winnipeg on May 27, 1976, as the Jets clinched their first Avco Cup with a 9-1 win. Individually, though there were no record breaking performances, each member of the “Hot Line” again posted a 100-point season, as Bobby Hull again led the Jets with 123 points and 53 goals, followed by Anders Hedberg’s 50-goal, 105-point season.
Ulf Nilsson excelled in the 1976 playoffs, as he led the Jets with 26 points in 13 games. Joe Daley again carried the bulk of the load in the Jets net and had easily his best season as a Jet with 41 wins and a 2.84 goals against average.
The Houston Areo’s had also finished tied with the Jets with overall points with 106, but with one more win. Houston was led by the Howe’s: Gordie, Mark and Marty.
The playoff breakdown was as follows:
Playoffs Apr 9, 1976
Win vs. Edmonton Oilers 7-3 @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs Apr 11, 1976
Win vs. Edmonton Oilers 5-4 (OT) @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs Apr 14, 1976
Win @Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Northlands Coliseum
Playoffs Apr 16, 1976
Win @Edmonton Oilers 7-2 Northlands Coliseum
Playoffs Apr 23, 1976
Win vs. Calgary Cowboys 6-1 @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs Apr 25, 1976
Win vs. Calgary Cowboys 3-2 @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs Apr 28, 1976
Win vs. Calgary Cowboys 6-3 @Calgary Stampede Corral
Playoffs Apr 30, 1976
Loss vs. Calgary Cowboys 3-7 @Calgary Stampede Corral
Playoffs May 2, 1976
Win vs. Calgary Cowboys 4-0 @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs May 20, 1976
Win vs. Houston Aeros 4-3 @The Summit
Playoffs May 23, 1976
Win vs. Houston Aeros 5-4 @The Summit
Playoffs May 25, 1976
Win vs. Houston Aeros 6-3 @Winnipeg Arena
Playoffs May 27, 1976
Win vs. Houston Aeros 9-1 @Winnipeg Arena
The Jets would go on to defend their Avco Cup championship next season, but would lose in the finals to the Quebec Nordiques.
Oilers Fire Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock Takes Over
Currently, the Oilers are 9-10-1 and in sixth place in the Pacific Division and own the sixth-lowest point percentage in the league at .475, leading to the team’s decision to part ways with McLellan who had been at the helm since the 2015-2016 season.
Hitchcock, 66, has the third-most wins in NHL history with 823, trailing Joel Quenneville (890) who was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season, and Scott Bowman (1,244), and has spent 22 seasons as a head coach in the NHL, with stints with teams such as the Dallas Stars (2 stints), Philadelphia Flyuers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and St. Louis Blues.
Oilers’ Zack Kassian Wants to Remain with Team
Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian had reportedly requested a trade from the team recently, in an effort to get more playing time, but is now clarifying what had happened and is stating that he prefers to stay with the team moving forward.
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, Kassian sayss that he didn’t directly ask for a trade, explaining that his agent spoke with the Oilers front office about potential interest from other teams, and Kassian has since told teammates that he wants to remain in Edmonton.
The Oilers have scratched Kassian several times this season and his playing time has dipped significantly, but he was back in the lineup on Sunday when he scored his first goal of the season in less than 10 minutes of playing time.
Oilers Place Ty Rattie On Injured Reserve
The Edmonton Oilers have placed veteran forward Ty Rattie on injured reserve after it was announced on Saturday that he would miss multiple games with a midsection muscle injury.
In a corresponding move, the Oilers have recalled Cooper Marody from the AHL.
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