The National Hockey League's expansion to four cities became official Friday when league President John Ziegler announced the granting of franchises to the Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques.
The Expansion, which swells the NHL's complement to 21 teams beginning with the 1979-1980 season, was approved by the league's Board of Governors on March 30. It took until Friday, however, for all fees to be paid and documents transferred to complete the transaction and mark the official demise of the World Hockey Association.
The incoming clubs had competed in the WHA last season, along with the Birmingham Bulls and Cincinnati Stingers, who were not party to the expansion plan. The four clubs, in achieving membership in the NHL, assumed the burden of "cleaning up costs" for the two teams which ceased operation.
The arrival of the new clubs forces a realignment of the NHL's four divisions. Hartford joins the Norris Division with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. Quebec is included in the Adams section with the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Minnesota North Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Edmonton and Winnipeg join the Smythe Division with the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Black Hawks, Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Rockies while the Washington Capitals -- originally Norris Division members -- shift to the Patrick Division with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Flames.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun