Were you a die-hard Winnipeg Jets fan during their WHA days? Think you know everything there is to know about the first professional hockey team in Winnipeg? Let’s find out. We’ve dug into the past to create three rounds of trivia about the great players and moments in the upstart franchise’s history.
Be sure to scroll slowly, or you’ll ruin the fun for yourself!
Round 1: Easy
1) What year was WHA Jets’ first season?
A: 1972-73. Five years after the NHL expanded to 12 teams, a group of entrepreneurs who dared to challenge the NHL’s monopoly on professional hockey established the World Hockey Association with the goal of bringing the sport to puck-starved markets.
Winnipeg was granted a founding franchise on Dec. 27, 1971, and began play the following fall.
The new squad enjoyed much inaugural season success, posting a 43-30-4 record and finishing first in the WHA’s West Division, but lost in the Avco Cup Final to the New England Whalers.
2) Which Player Led the WHA Jets in All-Time Scoring?
A: Anders Hedberg
B: Norm Beaudin
C: Bobby Hull
D: Ulf Nilsson
C: Bobby Hull. “The Golden Jet” racked up 638 points (301 goals and 335 assists) in 411 games over seven seasons after signing with the franchise after a decade-and-a-half with the Chicago Black Hawks/Blackhawks.
Related: Bobby Hull — The Golden Jet
Ulf Nilsson was second in all-time points, with 484.
3) How Many Avco Cups Did the WHA Jets Win?
C: 3, in 1975-76, 1977-78, and 1978-79.
4) Who Was the WHA Jets’ First Captain?
A: Bobby Hull
B: Ab McDonald
C: Chris Bordeleau
D: Milt Black
B: Ab McDonald. Winnipeg-born left-winger Alvin Brian McDonald — better known as “Ab,” — served as the Jets’ captain for their first two seasons after a decorated 762-game NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues.
A winner of four Stanley Cups, the well-liked and admired McDonald returned home, took the C, and played 147 games between 1972-74 —recording 29 goals and 41 assists for 70 points — before retiring.
5) Who Was the WHA Jets’ First Coach?
A: Rudy Pilous
B: Bobby Krom
C: Larry Hillman
D: Bobby Hull
D: Bobby Hull. Perhaps the reason Hull wasn’t the captain (or even an alternate) is that he was the Jets’ player-coach. They didn’t have a head coach behind the bench until Rudy Pilous, who took over in 1974-75 and later became the general manager.
Round 2: Intermediate
1) How Many Times did Bobby Hull Record 100-Plus Points in a Season?
B: Four Times
C: Six Times
B: Four Times, in 1972-73, 1974-75, 1975-76, and 1977-78. His best season was 1974-75 when he notched 77 goals and 65 assists for a whopping 142 points in 78 games.
2) Who Led the WHA Jets in All-Time Penalty Minutes?
A: Perry Miller
B: Terry Ruskowski
C: Kim Clackson
D: Barry Long
C: Kim Clackson, and he did so despite playing only two seasons with the Jets. The d-man engaged in plenty of fisticuffs between 1977-79, though, as he defended the star players and won two straight Avco Cups for his troubles.
He racked up 413 PIMS in just 123 games, and also holds their record for most in a season with 210.
3) Which Three Players Made Up “The Hot Line?”
A: Bobby Hull, Peter Sullivan, and Anders Hedberg
B: Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson, and Anders Hedberg
C: Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson, and Willy Lindstrom
D: Bobby Hull, Veli-Pekka Ketola, and Norm Beaudin
B: Ulf Nilsson, Bobby Hull, and Anders Hedberg. A truly terrific trio, Hull and the pair of Swedes torched their opponents between 1974-75 and 1977-78. The three amassed a combined 573 goals and 1,377 points in just 855 games together.
They each recorded at least 100 points apiece each season they were together, except for Hull in 1976-77, when he only played 34 games due to injury.
The Hot Line was broken up when Hedberg and Nilsson were traded to the New York Rangers prior to the WHA’s final season.
4) In Which Season Did The Jets Post Their Best-Ever Regular Season Record (52-27-2?)
D: 1975-76. Led by The Hot Line and backstopped by Joe Daley, the Jets captured the Canadian Division title and won their first Avco Cup, sweeping the Houston Aeros 4-0.
5) Which WHA Jet Was Nicknamed “The Magic Man?”
A: Chris Bordeleau
B: Kent Nilsson
C: Lars-Erik Sjoberg
D: Lyle Moffat
B: Kent Nilsson, for his puck-handling prowess. He played for the Jets in their final two seasons and recorded 107 points in each.
The Nynashamn, Sweden native went on to a successful NHL career with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, Minnesota North Stars, and Edmonton Oilers, recording 686 further points in 553 games.
Wayne Gretzky, who briefly played with Nilsson in 1986-87 once said The Magic Man “might have been the most skilled hockey player (he) ever saw in (his) entire career.”
Round 3: Hard
1) Which of These Four Jets Was Not Born in Manitoba?
A: Bill Lesuk
B: Duke Asmundson
C: Ted Green
D: Dan Johnson
A: Bill Lesuk. The left winger, who played 318 games over the Jets’ final four WHA seasons and recorded 136 points, was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Asmundson was born in Vita, Mb (a tiny town southeast of Winnipeg near the Canada/U.S Border), Ted Green was born in Eriksdale, Mb, (a town an hour northwest from Winnipeg), and Dan Johnson was born in Winnipegosis, Mb (a town north of Dauphin on the shores of the lake that bears the same name.)
They were among nearly two-dozen Jets who suited up for their home province’s team.
2) Who Scored the WHA Jets’ First-Ever Regular Season Goal?
A: Ab McDonald
B: Dunc Rosseau
C: Christian Bordeleau
D: Norm Beaudin
A: Ab McDonald. The goal came on Oct. 12, 1972, at Madison Square Garden against the New York Raiders, and on the same night his daughter was born.
“It’s nice to be able to say you got the goal. Just like my first goal in Montreal, or the game-winning goal in Chicago when we won the Stanley Cup in 1961,” McDonald said in 2012, recalling his tally that October night. “Whenever you score goals like that, people remember them, so you hear about them.”From ‘First captain scored first WHA goal,’ Winnipeg Sun, Oct. 11, 2012.
3) How Many Times Did the WHA Jets Finish With a Losing Record?
D: Three Times
B: Once. They finished 34-39-5 in 1973-74 (but still qualified for the postseason.) They finished above .500 in every other season (but didn’t qualify in 1974-75 despite finishing three games above .500.)
4) What is the Most Goals the WHA Jets Ever Scored in a Single Game?
D: 11, and they did it five times: on Nov. 3, 1974 against the Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades in an 11-3 win and on Nov. 26, 1975 against the Cincinnati Stingers in another 11-3 win.
They also hung an 11-spot on the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 29, 1976 in an 11-3 win and again later in the season on Feb. 2, 1977 in an 11-1 triumph.
Lastly, they scored 11 against the Birmingham Bulls on Jan. 11, 1978 in an 11-2 win.
5) What type of business does Joe Daley — the WHA Jets’ winningest goalie with 167 victories — own in Winnipeg to this day?
A: Car dealership
B: Sports memorabilia store
D: PR agency
B: Sports memorabilia store. Joe Daley’s Sports & Framing is on St. Mary’s Road and the author can personally attest that it’s a one-stop shop for cards, autographed items, and various sports merchandise.
How did You Do?
Did you get most of them right? Did you know more or less about the WHA Jets than you thought? Regardless, we hope you had fun and learned a few things along the way.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.