Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/30/13 at 08:12 PM ET
from Bob Verdi at the Chicago Tribune,
During the 1971-72 season, Hull was skating circles with the Blackhawks about a new contract while a rival to the National Hockey League, the World Hockey Association, prepared to exist. Arthur Wirtz, owner of the Blackhawks, did not take the threat very seriously, along with most of his brethren.
But Jack Kent Cooke, a Torontonian entrepreneur who owned the Kings and basketball's Lakers, expressed concern. Also, he was frustrated about poor attendance for the Kings at his new palace, the Fabulous Forum. It was Cooke who famously remarked that he came to understand why 800,000 Canadians moved to Southern California. Huffed Cooke: "Because they hate hockey."
As rumors grew about Hull's discussions with the WHA Winnipeg Jets, Cooke, who always thought big, thought really big. Wirtz owned the Stadium where the Bulls played and was in the process of securing a majority stake in the franchise itself. The Bulls were averaging only about 11,000 per date in Chicago, and the Kings desperately needed a marquee player in Los Angeles.
Instead of even tempting fate by allowing The Golden Jet to escape the NHL and provide the WHA instant traction, Cooke had an idea: he would trade superstar Chamberlain to the Bulls, and Hull would join the Kings. That would help both teams, both leagues and might doom the WHA before it ever established credibility.
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