The World Hockey Association (French: Association Mondiale de Hockey) was a professional ice hockey league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979. It was the first major competition for the National Hockey League since the collapse of the Western Hockey League after the 1925-26 WHL season. Although the WHA was not the first league since that time to attempt to challenge the NHL's supremacy, it was by far the most successful.
The WHA hoped to capitalize on the lack of hockey teams in a number of major cities, and it also hoped to attract the best players by paying more than the cartel of NHL owners would. Key parts of its success were its firm stance in not recognizing the reserve clause that found its way onto NHL contracts of the time, and its active scouting of players from all over the world, in contrast to the NHL which mainly fielded players from Canada. However, the WHA was also known for its unstable franchises, and the multi-million-dollar salaries it introduced to the game have remained a source of contention.
As the league folded in 1979, its four most successful and stable teams, the Edmonton Oilers, the Quebec Nordiques, the Winnipeg Jets and the New England Whalers (renamed to Hartford Whalers) joined the NHL.
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