North American Hockey League (1973–1977)

North American Hockey League
North american hockey league 1973-77.gif
Founded 1973
Ceased 1977
Replaced by American Hockey League
No. of teams 7 to 10
Country United States & Canada
Most titles Syracuse Blazers (2)

The North American Hockey League was a low-level minor professional hockey league that existed from 1973 to 1977. Several of the NAHL teams operated as developmental ("farm") teams for World Hockey Association franchises. The NAHL was one of two leagues, along with the Southern Hockey League, that were formed after the Eastern Hockey League ceased operations in 1973. The Lockhart Cup was the league's championship trophy. With the loss of a number of franchises, the NAHL elected to fold in September 1977.[1]

The league served as the inspiration for the film Slap Shot.[2] Ned Dowd, who played for the Johnstown Jets,[3] was the brother of the film's screenwriter, Nancy Dowd. Ned played for Johnstown during a season where the team was for sale, when his sister came to live in Johnstown and was inspired to write the screenplay. The film contains references to "Syracuse" and "Broome County", which were teams in the NAHL.[4] Some of the incidents depicted actually occurred in actual NAHL games.[2]


Lockhart Cup

Gregg Pilling sitting behind the Lockhart Cup in a team photo of the 1976-77 Philadelphia Firebirds
Gregg Pilling and the Lockhart Cup in 1976

The championship trophy of the North American Hockey League was named the Lockhart Cup in honor of Tommy Lockhart, founder of the Eastern Hockey League. The trophy was last awarded on April 10, 1977, to the Syracuse Blazers, and has since gone missing. The Hockey Hall of Fame stated that the Lockhart Cup is one of "about three historical trophies that have disappeared".[5] Its last known whereabouts was reported to be in the basement of Danny Belisle, the coach of the Blazers in the 1976–77 season.[5]

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