Lively Tales About Dead Teams

North American Hockey League (1973-1977)

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The North American Hockey League was one of two leagues (the Southern Hockey League was the other) that formed out of the break-up of the Eastern Hockey League in 1973.  NAHL franchises stretched from Pennsylvania up through New York and New England to Quebec, where the league’s lone Canadian entry, the Beauce Jaros, made their home.  It was a rough-and-tumble operation and the league’s antics – particularly the goonism and emphasis on fighting so prevalent in minor league hockey of the era – that provided the inspiration for the Paul Newman comedy Slap Shot.  The film’s fictional Charlestown Chiefs club is modeled after the NAHL’s Johnstown Jets.

Many NAHL clubs served as farm clubs for members of the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s rival to the National Hockey League.  Thus, a few clubs such as the Maine Nordiques (farm club of the Quebec Nordiques) and Long Island Cougars (Chicago Cougars) adapted their names from WHA parent clubs.

Reduced to only five teams, the NAHL owners voted to disband in late September 1977, just a few weeks before what would have been the league’s fifth season.  The end came only seven months after Slap Shot hit movie theatres in February 1977.  The film never references the NAHL by name – the characters in Slap Shot play in the fictitious “Federal League”.


North American Hockey League Franchise List

Franchise Years Active Lockhart Cup Champions
Beauce Jaros 1975-1977
Broome Dusters 1973-1977
Buffalo Norsemen 1975-1976
Cape Cod Codders 1974-1976
Cape Cod Cubs 1973-1974
Erie Blades 1975-1977
Johnstown Jets 1973-1977 1975
Long Island Cougars 1973-1975
Maine Nordiques 1973-1977
Mohawk Valley Comets 1973-1977
Philadelphia Firebirds 1974-1977 1976
Syracuse Blazers 1973-1977 1974 & 1977


Written by AC

April 28th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

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