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Wikipedia



1979 NHL expansion

The 1979 NHL expansion was the culmination of several years of negotiations between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Hockey Association (WHA) that resulted in the WHA and all of its surviving franchises folding in return for the owners of four of the WHA's six remaining teams (the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets) being granted expansion franchises that commenced play in the NHL for the 1979–80 season. The agreement officially took effect on June 22, 1979. The agreement ended the seven-year existence of the WHA and re-established the NHL as the lone major league in North American professional ice hockey. The two leagues had discussed the possibility of merging for numerous years, despite the acrimonious relationship between the two after the WHA aggressively recruited NHL players upon the former's founding in 1971. The two sides came close to an agreement in 1977, but the proposed merger was defeated by a group of hard-line NHL owners. The NHL also initially rejected the 1979 expansion agreement by one vote. However, a massive boycott of Molson products in Canada led the Montreal Canadiens, who were owned by the Molson family, to reverse their position in a second vote along with the Vancouver Canucks, allowing the plan to pass. Although popularly called the NHL-WHA merger, the NHL refused to recognize the WHA's records or history as being any part of its own, and explicitly treated the WHA teams' arrival not as a merger but rather as an expansion consisting of four new teams which happened to have identical or similar names to some of the former WHA teams. The existing NHL teams were given the right to reclaim players from the WHA clubs without compensation, although each of the new NHL franchises were permitted to keep two goaltenders and two skaters from their WHA rosters. An expansion draft was then held to stock the four new NHL teams.

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