Pint-size winger Gary Veneruzzo was born 72 years ago in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Gary was a productive winger in the St. Louis Blues system but got his big break with the WHA LA Sharks.
"The Sharks made an offer and I told the Blues what they were offering and they said 'go play in Los Angeles because we're not giving you that type of money.'"
Gary notched 43 and 39 goals respectively in the first two WHA seasons. He retired in 1977.
Happy 80th to Edmonton Oiler Norm Ullman, perhaps the most underrated player in hockey history. He scored 490 goals over 22 NHL seasons. He scored number 500 in the WHA on December 10, 1975 vs. the Quebec Nordiques.
Of his stay in the "Rebel League" Ullman states:
"I thought it might be nice to go back and finish my career where it all started. So I went there and had a really good time. It seemed to be a little more relaxing than playing in the National Hockey League. The calibre wasn't up to the NHL, but it was pretty good hockey and they had a fair number of players that moved into the NHL."
Thommie Bergman turns 67 today. He was the first of the Swedes to play in North America in the 1970s. A rugged blueliner, he spent two years with the Detroit Red Wings before joining the WHA Winnipeg Jets in 1974-75.
After the 1977-78 campaign, he jumped back to Detroit where he finished his career.
Birthday wishes to RW Norm Beaudin.
Beaudin was the first player signed by the Jets, and played on a line with superstar Bobby Hull and centre Christian Bordeleau in the Jets' inaugural season. He had his best pro season by far, as all three members of the line scored over 100 points; Beaudin contributed 38 goals and 65 assists for 103 points, and was named to play in the WHA's first All-Star Game in 1973. He led the WHA playoffs in scoring that year with a sparkling 13 goals and 15 assists as the Jets lost to the New England Whalers in the league finals, highlighted by a seven-point game against the Minnesota Fighting Saints.
Beaudin's production dropped sharply the next season, and in 1974 he and Bordeleau were replaced as Hull's linemates by Swedish stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson. After the Jets' AVCO World Trophy championship in 1976, Beaudin signed with Swiss team SC Langnau, with whom he played for two seasons before retiring.