WHA Teams: San Diego Mariners
The San Diego Mariners (previously known as the New York
Raiders, New York Golden Blades, and the New Jersey Knights)
were a professional ice hockey team in the short-lived World
Hockey Association (WHA).
York Raiders (1972-73)
New York Golden Blades
Edmonton Oilers (1973-present)
Square Garden (17,500) 1972-73
Cherry Hill Arena (4,000) 1973-74
San Diego Sports Arena (13,039)
The New York Raiders were one of the original World Hockey Association
teams founded for a $25,000 fee by Neil Shayne and Norman Dachs. It
participated in the first WHA draft. Its coach was Camille Henry and the
very first draft pick - second overall - was Al Sims. Sims did not,
however, play for the Raiders, but he signed with the Boston Bruins
Intended to be the WHA's flagship franchise, the team was initially
slated to play in the brand-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long
Island. However, Nassau County didn't consider the WHA a professional
league and wanted nothing to do with the Raiders. Nassau County retained
William Shea to get an NHL team to play in the new building. The NHL
responded by hastily awarding a franchise to Long Island--the New York
The Raiders were forced to play in Madison Square Garden, where they
faced being tenants to their major competitor, the New York Rangers. The
situation rapidly became untenable, with an onerous lease and poor
attendance. The three original owners defaulted, and the league ended up
taking control of the team midway through the season.
Following the season, D. Richard and Seymour Siegel bought the team and
renamed it the New York Golden Blades.
On November 20, 1973, the Golden Blades ceased operation and the league
moved the team - to be owned by the WHL - to Cherry Hill, New Jersey and
changed their name to the Jersey Knights (though their poor performance -
both on and off the ice - led to the unwanted nickname Jersey Nightmares).
In early January, the league announced that it had found another naive
businessman to purchase the franchise, marking the third time the team had
changed hands in less than two seasons. Construction magnate Joe Schwartz
would only say that he "have the intention to stay in Jersey"
and wanted to keep the Knights "near the New York market." In
February, he announced that he had signed a lease for 1974-75 at the
Cherry Hill Arena. But on April 29, the league announced that the team
moved to San Diego and would became known as the San Diego Mariners.
Not everyone in San Diego was thrilled about the prospect of a WHA team
moving in. The local minor league club claimed to have a lease with the
city on the San Diego Sports Arena that was "good until something
like 2015." Local officials also thought the move would make the city
an unlikely target for NHL expansion. Future California governor and then
San Diego Major Pete Wilson claimed the city had found a loophole to send
the Mariners back to Jersey. According to Wilson, the city's sublease with
the Arena prohibits its use for activities less than "high in
caliber." This was not the lowest blow Wilson delivered. He also
questioned Schwartz's alleged ties to the mafia. Eventually everyone was
compensated to their satisfaction and the Mariners signed a five year
lease on the Arena.
Star players for the Mariners included defenseman Harry Howell, center
Andre Lacroix, and goaltender Ernie Wakely. The Mariners were coached by
Howell (as player/coach) during their first season and Ron Ingram the
succeeding two seasons, qualifying for the WHA playoffs each year.
Team Colors for the Mariners were Orange and Blue. The color scheme is
the same as the 1966-74 San Diego Gulls of the old Western Hockey League
(minor pro) and again was adopted in the form of throwback jerseys for the
current ECHL San Diego Gulls.
Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association by
Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association
by Scott Adam Surgent
Pro Hockey '75 - '76 by Dan Proudfoot
WHA Media Guides (each team published one each year)
These and many other WHA items can be found at
eBay - check our links on the far right of this page!