The story of this franchise begins in Miami of all places. Granted franchise life in November 1971, the Miami Screaming Eagles would never actually play a WHA game. Despite this, the Screaming Eagles would make major WHA news by luring goalie Bernie Parent away from the NHL. Parent was the first star player to defect to the rival league. The team’s next NHL target was Boston Bruins fan favorite Derek Sanderson, who was more than intrigued by the Miami offer. A deal wasn’t yet completed when, in April of 1972, Miami withdrew from the league because of the lack of a suitable arena among other financial reasons.
In June the Philadelphia Blazers were formed, replacing the Miami franchise and thus assuming Parent’s contract. The new owners also continued talks with Sanderson and eventually worked out a contract worth in excess of 2.5 million dollars. The next big move was the signing of another Bruin, Pie McKenzie. The 1972-73 season proved disastrous for the Blazers. The team started slowly, as injuries to Sanderson, Parent and McKenzie occurred early in the year. Sanderson was disgruntled and eventually returned to Boston after a 1 million dollar buyout was negotiated. Poor attendance and financial woes ensued. A strong finish that landed the Blazers a playoff spot was not enough to save the club.
Following the inaugural season, the franchise was sold and moved to Vancouver where they would play for 2 seasons, keeping the Blazers as their nickname. While in Vancouver they never made the playoffs and after the 1974-75 campaign the team was relocated to Calgary. Officially the Calgary Cowboys were born in May of 1975. The first year in Calgary saw the Cowboys produce a franchise best record. They also won a first round playoff series, the only one in franchise history. The team’s second season in Calgary wasn’t nearly as successful, hampered by a terrible road record of 5-31-5. It would be the final straw for this franchise which had begun at the other end of the continent in Miami in 1971. Season ticket sales slumped and there was just no getting around the Calgary Cowboys folding after the 1976-77 season.
This home gold dureen tie-down gamer by Pearsons was worn by Don Herriman during the 1972-73 WHA season. Herriman began his minor pro career in 1962-63 in the OHA with the Peterborough Petes, where he played for 4 seasons. He next spent a year in the IHL with Muskegon and another in the CPHL with Memphis before joining the Clinton Comets of the EHL where Don played for 4 seasons. He got his big break in 1972 when he made the Philadelphia Blazers roster in the WHA’s inaugural season. Herriman played for the Golden Blades and the Knights in 1973-74 and finished his playing career with the Edmonton Oilers in 1974-75. It is possible that this sweater travelled with the Blazers to Vancouver and therefore also may have been worn during the WHA's second season.
This gold dureen tie-down offers still vibrant color and fantastic eye appeal while sporting game wear that consists of stick and slash marks, board burns, board paint transfer, un-repaired burn holes and runs, inner pilling and several team-sewn repairs. The nameplate has been removed from the jersey, a commonality of the era, and has left some un-repaired holes in its wake. The original double garter fight strap remains perfectly sewn in between the back player numbers. To say that a Philadelphia Blazers jersey is a tough find would be a severe understatement. Seldom few have surfaced over the past 40 years and when they have collectors have been quick to snatch them up. Here’s a rarely seen part of Philadelphia hockey history, worn during the WHA’s inaugural season and the only year of the Philadelpha Blazers existence. Philly fans and WHA collectors alike, don’t let this rare opportunity pass you by.