11th July 06:38
: Bobby Hull Joins WHA As Commissioner
Bobby Hull Joins WHA As Commissioner
Thu Jul 17, 7:53 PM ET
TORONTO - Hall of Famer Bobby Hull is the first commissioner of a new World
Hockey Association that plans to take the ice in 2004.
The former NHL great also was the first marquee player to jump to the rival
WHA, in 1972
Hull said in a conference call Thursday that he wants the new league to
offer a more exciting brand of hockey, just like the old WHA did more than
30 years ago when he left the Chicago Blackhawks to join the Winnipeg Jets.
The timing is right, with the NHL facing a possible contract impasse that
could suspend play for the 2004-2005 season, when the WHA would start up.
"We don't want to be in competition with the NHL," Hull said. "We just want
to be ready in 2004 to give the fan an alternative - exciting hockey at a
The WHA is planning to have as many as 12 teams, each under a $10 million
salary cap with an exemption for one marquee player.
He was unable to say exactly what his role as commissioner would entail.
"Whatever the folks in the WHA would like me to do, I'll be happy to do it,"
he said. "I think I've been able to retain a lot of insight into the game of
hockey and I think we'll be chatting a lot about rule changes, what kind of
things we can do to speed up games and bring fans to the edge of their seats
His ideas include getting rid of the center red line to open up neutral-zone
play and limiting the size of goalie equipment.
"I'd like to think that we're innovators, leaders not followers," he said.
"Instead of talking about rule changes, we're going to make rule changes and
we're going to make sure the people in the stands see entertainment instead
of clutching and grabbing and checking from the rear."
So far, Phoenix and Minnesota are the only two teams confirmed, with Quebec,
Winnipeg and Hamilton possible Canadian cities. Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando,
Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago,
Houston, Dallas and Kansas City are other U.S. candidates.
The old WHA ran from 1972 to 1979 before four of its teams - Edmonton,
Winnipeg, Quebec and Hartford - were absorbed into the NHL.
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