Sunday, August 23, 2009

The worst rink in the WHA

I recently came across this snippet in the Sports Illustrated archives in an article about Andre Lacroix from May 28, 1979. It details the travails of playing in the sub-par facility that was the Cherry Hill Arena, short time home of the New Jersey (nee New York) Knights.

"Of the 33 buildings used by WHA teams, perhaps the worst facility was the Cherry Hill Arena, where the New Jersey Knights played the 29 home games of their brief existence. There were no showers in the visiting team's dressing room, so the opposition had to dress at the Holiday Inn two miles up the road.
"It was embarrassing to see Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe coming to the games with their uniforms on and their skates hanging around their necks," says Andre Lacroix.

Most arenas have a long players' bench for each team, but in Cherry Hill the players' section consisted of three rows of five seats. The teams looked like choirs. There was little room for a coach in Cherry Hill, so one night Winnipeg Coach Nick Mickoski sat in the first row of the stands. But every time he stood up to make a line change or give instructions to a player, the fans would complain so loudly that he would have to shout his orders sitting down.

The ice at Cherry Hill had a definite tilt to it, too, prompting Bobby Hull to say, "It's the only arena I've ever been in where the visiting team had to skate uphill for two periods of every game. There was also a huge dip in the ice." In fact, one night Ted Scharf of the Knights was waiting for a pass when the puck shot straight up and struck him between the eyes."

I love old tales of the WHA, and will continue to post the awesome stories I come across.

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