Indianapolis Racers

Indianapolis Racers

Indianapolis Racers

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The Indianapolis Racers were a franchise in the former World Hockey Association from 1974 to 1978. They competed in five seasons, folding 25 games into the 1978–79 season. They played at Market Square Arena. They are best-known for being the first professional team to secure the services of Wayne Gretzky.

The WHA began the 1978–79 season with seven teams, and the dying league would go to almost any length to try to stay afloat. The NHL had rules regarding the age of players that could play while the WHA didn't. Nelson Skalbania, the owner of the Racers, signed 17-year-old future super-star Wayne Gretzky to, at that time, a whopping personal contract worth between 1.125 and 1.75 million dollars over 4 to 7 years. Skalbania, knowing that the WHA was fading, felt owning the young star was more valuable than owning a WHA team. Just eight games into the season, though, Skalbania needed cash and liquidated his greatest asset to his old friend and former partner, Peter Pocklington, owner of the Edmonton Oilers. Pocklington purchased Gretzky and two other Indianapolis players, goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll, paying $700,000 for the contracts of the three players, although the announced price was actually $850,000. The Racers folded 17 games later on December 15, 1978.

The other six teams finished the season, but after the Winnipeg Jets won the Avco World Trophy, the league accepted the terms of a merger with the NHL whereby Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec and New......
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