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1973-74 Jim Johnson WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #416

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1973-74 Jim Johnson WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
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1973-74 Jim Johnson WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #416
The Minnesota Fighting Saints were one of the WHA’s original 12 franchises. Construction on their new home, the St. Paul Civic Center was not complete when the 1972-73 season began forcing the Fighting Saints to begin play in the 8,000 seat St. Paul Auditorium. The Fighting Saints made the playoffs in year one after defeating the Oilers in a 1-game playoff. Harry Neale assumed the team’s coaching duties late in the 1st season, taking over for Glen Sonmor who became the full-time GM. The Fighting Saints would also make the playoffs in each of the next 2 seasons, but never made a serious playoff run.

Despite playing well on the ice, the franchise was in dire financial straits. The end was near for the franchise as play began in 1975-76. Despite the addition of Dave Keon, the team wouldn’t survive the month of February, continually missing payroll checks and losing money hand over fist until they officially folded on February 27th 1976.

In the summer of 1976, the Cleveland Crusaders were convinced to move out of Ohio and play in the vacant St. Paul Arena for the 1976-77 season. They assumed the Minnesota Fighting Saints team name, but they too would suffer the same fate as the original franchise and fold on January 17th of 1977 after only 42 games.

This home white dureen gamer by Rawlings and Steichens was worn by Jim Johnson during the 1973-74 WHA season. Johnson began his NHL career in 1964-65 with the New York Rangers where he played for 3 seasons before joining the expansion Philadelphia Flyers in 1967-68. Jim remained with Philadelphia for parts of 5 seasons and then briefly played for the LA Kings prior to joining the WHA in their inaugural season of 1972-73. Johnson spent parts of 3 seasons with the Minnesota Fighting Saints and wrapped up his playing career with the Indianapolis Racers in 1974-75.

Sewn into the collar of this gamer are the Rawlings and Steichens tags. The game wear on this 2nd year Fighting Saints sweater is solid and consists of stick and slash marks, board burns, board paint transfer, un-repaired burn holes, period trauma, washed out bloodstains and heavy inner pilling. The nameplate has suffered a tear that remains un-repaired and has the first letter N in the player name curling. A terrific well-worn vintage example from the WHA’s 2nd season of existence, choice!