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1976-77 Rosaire Paiement Indianapolis Racers Game Worn Jersey
Lot #101

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1976-77 Rosaire Paiement Indianapolis Racers Game Worn Jersey
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1976-77 Rosaire Paiement Indianapolis Racers Game Worn Jersey
Lot #101

The Indianapolis Racers were given franchise life in Septemeber of 1973, with an eye towards beginning play in 1974-75. Ownership was granted to a pair of businessmen who also owned the Indianapolis Pacers of the ABA. These gentlemen parted with the team and in December of 1974 after only a few months of play, Paul Deneau, the Houston Aeros founder assumed ownership. Market Square Arena was to be home for the Racers and construction was completed just in time for the team to begin play in the fall of 1974.

The Racers first season was disasterous on the ice as they won only 6 of their first 40 and ended the year on a 10-game losing streak. Jacques Demers took over the coaching duties to begin the 2nd season and things soon turned around for the young franchise. A number of in-season acquisitions which included Rene Leclerc and Dave Keon strengthened the club and helped them go from worst to first in the Eastern Diviision, making the playoffs and extending the established New England Whalers to a game 7 before bowing out.

The 1976-77 season saw the Racers lose in the 2nd round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Quebec Nordiques. By this time, financial struggles were getting the best of Paul Deneau and he began selling off chunks of the team, eventually selling all of his shares in 1977. Harold Ducote became the team’s trustee, representing the now better than two-dozen owners. 1977-78 was a miserable year for the team. Financial woes continued and the loss of Coach Jacques Demers and goaltender Michel Dion doomed the team to a last place finish. Late in 1977 Nelson Skalbania purchased controlling interest in the team and a sure fold of the franchise was averted. Struggling to meet payroll and with attendance sparce, Skalbania made a bold move in the summer of 1978 when he signed a young phenom from the Soo Greyhounds by the name of Wayne Gretzky to a personal services contract. Gretzky, at the age of 17, played in the team’s first 8 games in 1978-79. He started slowly, registering only 6 points.

Frustrated that his bold move wasn’t lifting attendance, Skalbania sold Gretzky to the Edmonton Oilers on November 2nd 1978 and the rest is history. The inflow of cash temporarily helped the Racers survive for another month, but after only 25 games, on December 15th, 1978 the team officially folded, sending their players scurrying to find jobs with other teams. 

This road blue dureen gamer by Wilson was worn by Rosaire Paiement during the 1976-77 WHA season. Paiement’s pro career began with the expansion Philadelphia Flyers in 1967-68. He would spend 3 years in Philly and then join the expansion Vancouver Canucks where he would play for 2 more seasons before joining the expansion Chicago Cougars of the WHA for the start of the 1972-73 season. After 3 seasons in Chicago, Rosaire was off to New England where after a year and a half he found his final home with the Indianapolis Racers where he played for 2 seasons. Paiement was a 30-goal scorer in both the NHL and the WHA and he played with an edge to his game. His first 4 WHA seasons saw Rosaire average nearly a point per game and make the 1974 WHA All Star game roster.

Proudly sewn to the left breast of this dureen is the Captain’s “C”. This stunning red, white and blue sweater shows solid game use that consists of stick marks, board burns, inner pilling and no less than a dozen team-sewn repairs. The letter of honor that adorns the chest along with the all original nameplate will forever set this example apart. It is a simply awesome representation.