The Chicago Cougars were an original WHA franchise. They lasted for a total of 3 seasons before folding due to financial pressures, their inability to find a suitable arena and unhappy ownership. The first year saw the Cougars post the leagues worst overall record. Ownership then signed local Black Hawks stars Pat Stapleton and Ralph Backstrom which helped the Cougars make a marked improvement in their 2nd season. Sneaking into the playoffs, the team then caught on fire, winning two hardfought playoff rounds, both coming on the road in game 7 and advancing to the Avco World Finals.
The Cinderella story would then come to an abrupt end at the hands of Gordie Howe’s Houston Aeros who swept the underdog Cougars in 4 straight. During those 1974 playoffs, the Cougars were forced to leave their already small and inadequate arena and play some of their home games at a tiny arena located in a shopping center in Mt. Prospect, Illinois! During the 1974-75 season, three players; Ralph Backstrom, Pat Stapleton and goalie Dave Dryden purchased a controlling interest in the franchise from the disgruntled ownership group. The move proved a poor one financially for the players and the team’s fate was sealed, forcing them to fold following the 1974-75 campaign.
This home gold and green dureen gamer by Wilson was worn by Bryon Baltimore during the 1974-75 WHA season. Baltimore, a native of the Yukon Territory, began his playing career with the AHL’s Springfield Kings in 1972-73. He would spend 2 years with the Kings affiliate before joining the WHA in 1974-75. Bryon spent the next 5 seasons roaming WHA bluelines, playing until the merger when he joined the expansion Edmonton Oilers NHL franchise in 1979-80. Baltimore, who stood at 6’2” 190 lbs., wasn’t shy to throw his weight around as evidenced by his better than a PIM per game record throughout his 5-year WHA career. He represented the Cougars, Spurs, Civics, Racers and Stingers during his WHA years.
Baltimore joined the Chicago Cougars as a rookie in 1974-75 and played in 77 games where he tabbed 8 goals and 20 points to go along with 110 PIMS. Offered here is Baltimore’s 1st set dureen gamer, which were worn by the Cougars before they switched to a mesh offering later that season. Sewn into the collar of this gamer is the Wilson size 48 tag. Sewn to the inside hem is the chain-stitched ‘73’ year tag. The stunning chain-stitched Cougar sits proudly front and center on this vintage offering, just beneath the crossover collar. The game wear on this sweater consists of stick and slash marks, board burns, board paint transfer, washed out bloodstains and fine inner pilling. A superb vintage WHA specimen that was donned by Baltimore during his rookie year.