Czechoslovakian Legend Vaclav Nedomanky was a huge WHA signing in 1974, joining Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson and Richard Farda as newly minted Toronto Toros. "Big Ned" was considered the "Phil Esposito of the WHA."
Despite a 56-goal season in 1975-76, Ned's stay in the WHA was a bit of a disappointment.
Here's a great story of international intrigue surrounding his defection and signing with the Toronto Toros.
By Sports Illustrated 1974
This has been an expensive hunting season for John Craig Eaton and John F. Bassett Jr., two young Toronto millionaires who dabble in acquiring sports franchises and stocking them with athletes. A few months ago Eaton, a department-store magnate, and Bassett, who is top-heavy in communications, offered a $3 million package to Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield of the Miami Dolphins and signed them with the Toronto Northmen, now the Memphis Southmen, of the fledgling World Football League. Last month Eaton and Bassett bagged Frank Mahovlich and Paul Henderson for the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association, bringing in those National Hockey League notables with a brace of contracts totaling more than $2 million. And then came last week, a new deal—and another big controversy.
Vaclav Nedomansky, the 30-year-old captain of the Czechoslovakian national hockey team, the " Phil Esposito of Europe," defected to Canada and signed a $750,000, five-year pact to play with Mahovlich and Henderson on the Toros. With Nedomansky, on a slightly delayed and less expensive ($150,000 for three years) basis, will come Czech Center Richard Farda, recently granted asylum in Switzerland.
While both players are considered prizes, Nedomansky is the plum; he is the most famous Communist-bloc athlete to defect to the West since 1956 when virtually en masse the Hungarian Olympic team requested—and received—political asylum at Melbourne.
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'Lil Fran Huck was a slick center who toiled for the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Fighting Saints.
Huck's best WHA season came with the Jets in 1973-74 (26-48-74 in 74 games). Despite this success he was peddled to Minnesota upon the arrival of Ulf Nilsson and Veli Ketola prior to the 74-75 season.
Huck had a strong 1972-73 season for the St. NHL Louis Blues but was lured by the big payday of the WHA.