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1976-77 Ray McKay WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #415

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1976-77 Ray McKay WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
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1976-77 Ray McKay WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints Game Worn Jersey
Lot #415
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 road red dureen gamer by Rawlings and Steichens was worn by Ray McKay during the 1976-77 WHA season. McKay began his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1968-69. After 3 seasons with the Hawks, he became a member of the Buffalo Sabres for a couple of seasons before spending a year with the California Golden Seals. The 1974-75 season saw McKay jump to the rival WHA and join the Edmonton Oilers. In 1975-76 McKay played for the Cleveland Crusaders, who then jumped from Ohio to Minnesota and assumed the Fighting Saints team name for the 1976-77 season. After a half a season, 42 games in all, the new Fighting Saints suffered the same fate as the originals and folded. McKay became property of Birmingham and finished the season in Alabama. He played one final year in the WHA with the Oilers in 1977-78 before spending a couple of seasons in the AHL, where he had captured the Eddie Shore Award back in 1972-73.

Sewn into the collar are the Rawlings and Steichens tags. The game wear on this size 48 sweater consists of stick marks, board burns, board paint transfer, un-repaired burn holes, inner pilling and washed out bloodstains. A red Fighting Saints gamer is considered a true prize in the hobby as they existed for merely a half season and marked the end of the WHA era in Minnesota. This impeccably preserved example offers vibrant colors, the original nameplate and tremendous eye appeal. A cornerstone item from this terrific collection of Minnesota gamers, choice!