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1975-76 Wayne Connelly Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #96

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1975-76 Wayne Connelly Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
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1975-76 Wayne Connelly Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #96
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 incredible home white dureen gamer by Rawlings and Steichens was worn by Wayne Connelly during the 1975-76 WHA season. Connelly was a veteran of 10 NHL seasons before joining the Minnesota Fighting Saints for the first year of WHA play. Wayne would spend 4 seasons in Minnesota, moving onto Cleveland late in the 1975-76 season and then onto Calgary and Edmonton to finish his pro career. Connelly was an offensive weapon who led the Fighting Saints in scoring in their inaugural season. In his 3 full seasons with the franchise, Connelly tabbed goal totals of 40, 42 and 38. In 366 career WHA games played he totaled 167 goals and 329 points. He was also a 300+ point man in the NHL.

Proudly sewn to the left breast of this gamer is the alternate Captain’s “A”. Sewn in the collar are the Rawlings and Steichens tagging. The game wear on this dureen consists of stick marks, board burns, washed out bloodstains, inner pilling, un-repaired holes and some minor team-sewn repair work. This outstanding example was worn by one of the franchise’s star players, in the final year of their existence. It has its all original nameplate in tow with a letter of honor adorning the chest. Simply outstanding!