The Michigan Stags came into franchise existence to begin the 1974-75 WHA season. Formerly the LA Sharks, the team was purchased by a pair of Detroit businessmen late in the 1973-74 campaign. The new owners moved the struggling franchise to Detroit in the summer of 1974. The teams’ financial problems were not solved by the move. Poor attendance, day to day expenses and mounting payroll debt proved too much for the team to overcome. In January of 1975, the Stags became wards of the league as their owners left amidst a sea of debt. The WHA immediately folded the Stags and relocated them to Baltimore to finish out the 1974-75 season.
This home white dureen gamer by Wilson was worn by both Jim McLeod and Gerry Desjardins during the 1974-75 WHA season. McLeod’s career began in 1960 with the Seattle Totems. He would spend most of the next dozen or so years tending goal in the WHL and winning their Outstanding Goalie Award 4 different times. In 1971-72 Jimmy took the ice for the St. Louis Blues, his only NHL stint. The following season he joined the upstart WHA and appeared in 54 games for the Chicago Cougars. McLeod began the 1973-74 season with the Golden Blades and finished it with the LA Sharks. His final season of professional hockey was in 1974-75 where he appeared in 16 games for the ill-fated Michigan Stags franchise.
Gerry Desjardins began his NHL career in 1968-69 with the LA Kings. During his 2nd year in LA, Gerry was dealt to the Chicago Black Hawks where he spent the next 3 seasons. Desjardins next became an original member of the New York Islanders with whom he tended goal for 2 seasons before joining the WHA’s Michigan Stags. Desjardins appeared in 41 contests for the Michigan Stags franchise before returning to the NHL later that same year. The Islanders had traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres and Gerry returned with a bang, leading the Sabres to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance later that same year. It was with Buffalo that Gerry spent the next several years, earning an NHL All Star appearance before retiring in 1977-78.
Desjardins began the 1974-75 WHA season in Michigan and his star power earned him the right to wear the player number 1, while McLeod began the season wearing the number 30. During the season, Gerry traded in the number 1 for number 88 and Jimmy McLeod took back his player number 1 which perfectly explains the nameplate change on the reverse. McLeod had worn the number 1 for the LA Sharks the prior season before relocating with the franchise to Michigan. Nice goalie wear exists on this sweater consisting of a good number of stick and puck marks, washed out bloodstains and inner pilling. Shown above are a couple of photos of Desjardins wearing both the number 1 and 88. Tremendous offering from a team that existed a mere three months, thus making their game worn jerseys one of the rarest and most desirable of all WHA gamers. Worn by not one but two former NHL netminders, a goalie collector’s nirvana!