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1972-73 WHA Winnipeg Jets 1st Year Jersey
Lot #84

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1972-73 WHA Winnipeg Jets 1st Year Jersey
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1972-73 WHA Winnipeg Jets 1st Year Jersey
Lot #84

The Winnipeg Jets were one of the WHA’s original 12, being awarded to local businessman Ben Hatskin in November of 1971. Hatskin was a pioneer, thinking big and following up with action. His boldest move was to select Bobby Hull and actively pursue the NHL’s 2nd leading all-time goal scorer. After much dialogue, and with the financial backing of all other 11 WHA franchises, Hatskin signed Hull away from Chicago, luring him with a 1 million dollar signing bonus. It would take some time for the courts to decide if Hull would be allowed to play for the Jets, but that ruling eventually came in Winnipeg’s favor.

Hull was a demon on the ice, setting forth to build on his already legendary career and gaining the Jets instant respectability. The Jets won the West and made the inaugural Avco World Finals before losing to the New England Whalers. Year two wasn’t as good for the club in the standings or playoffs, as they lost in the 1st round. Again thinking boldly, the Jets began scouting European talent and in 1974 they signed half a dozen of those players to contracts. Included in those initial signing were soon to be stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson. In 1974 Hatskin left the Jets and joined the WHA’s board of governors. The franchise, rather than seek private ownership became publicly owned, allowing fans to purchase shares for as little as $25. They would remain privately owned until 1978 when Barry Shenkarow and others, including Bobby Hull purchased the team. After missing the playoffs in 1974-75, the 1975-76 team turned heads, storming through the regular season and eventually capturing the Avco World Trophy in four straight over the defending champs, Gordie Howe’s Houston Aeros. The Jets made a repeat run through the 1977 playoffs and stretched the Nordiques to a 7th game before losing their title. The 1977-78 season saw the Jets again return to dominance and capture their 2nd Avco World Trophy, again with Hull defeating Howe, this time it was New England who suffered the loss. The WHA’s final season would again see the Winnipeg franchise capture the Avco World Trophy, this time defeating the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers. The Jets were easily the most successful WHA franchise and it was a no-brainer that they would be one of the WHA’s teams to merge into the NHL in 1979-80.

Maska produced this blue dureen jersey for the Winnipeg Jets for their inaugural season of play in the WHA in 1972-73. The beautiful 1st year team logo is sewn perfectly to the chest of this sweater. Worn only during the teams’ inaugural foray, this stunning crest features a beautiful chain stitched ‘Jets’ in striking red thread. The vintage gold and black Tricot Sport Maska tag is sewn into the collar. The player number 26 is sewn to both sleeves and the back. While the style and stitch type is correct, the thread color of the player name on this nameplate is inconsistent with that of the Jets first year gamers. Furthermore, our records indicate that Wally Boyer wore the player number 8 and that the Jets did not use the number 26 during their official schedule in that inaugural season of play.

Further complicating matters are the signs of game use that include several team-sewn repairs, some un-repaired holes and other obvious signs of use including inner pilling. We are left to surmise that this sweater may have been an extra that was worn in camp or scrimmages and that the nameplate was tested by management for looks and ultimately not chosen to be used. Nevertheless, this is a rare and highly sought after style, which dates to the beginning of this now long defunct franchise and league. Historic.