WHA's Philadelphia Blazers started life as the Miami Screaming Eagles. Herb Martin was the Eagle's owner and was the first man to sign away an NHL'er - the Leaf's Bernie Parent. Unfortunately, Martin had trouble obtaining a building permit to erect a new arena. Furthermore, the NHL announced plans to expand into the Deep South when Atlanta was awarded a franchise. When an April 15th deadline approached where $100,000 was due to the new league, Martin was unable to pay and the team was in limbo. Then entered James L Cooper and Bernard Brown, owner of one of the biggest freight companies in the USA. On May 31st 1972, they took over the franchise, getting the rights to all players Miami picked in the WHA expansion draft.
Within a couple of days they announced the team name as the Blazers and they had agreed in terms with Parent. They initially tried to get dates to play their games in the Spectrum, but the Flyers, as would be further shown later, were in no mood to help this upstart team and league. The Blazers would have to play their games in the 9000 seat Civic Center.
The next major signing game on June 13th, when they obtained the Bruin's John McKenzie, who would become player-coach. 17 days later they hired Dave Creighton as their first GM, plus 4 other players, including Danny Lawson. At that times rumors swirled that Derek Sanderson would be signed. 2 days later it was made official. Sanderson was signed to a $2,625,000 five year pact. That contract made Derek the highest paid athlete in North America. Derek's father was also given a position as a scout within the organization.
On August 10th, the Flyers obtained the NHL rights to John McKenzie, which set off a chain of events with the Flyers and Blazers plus their respective leagues suing each other over the rights of these players. Eventually a judge would rule against the NHL, stating that they were subject to anti-trust rules and they couldn't prevent players from finding employment in the new league.
In the meantime, the team was preparing for a new season. Parent was getting offers from the Leafs to rejoin the team at an increased salary, but he stayed with the Blazers as they headed to Roanoke for their training camp. Sanderson's preparation, or lack thereof, did prove to be a distraction. Then McKenzie would fracture his arm on a goalpost in Quebec City in an exhibition game. This was just the beginning. The Blazers lost their first game 4-3 in Boston against the New England Whalers. Sanderson admitted to be out of shape. He scored a goal an assist in the first period, but after that he was done. In a Globe and Mail interview after the game Sanderson said, "I never played a tougher game, I was soaking wet. I came in at the end of the second period, had a shower and changed completely. Then I brought up. I feel like bringing up again".
If Sanderson felt sick then, he probably felt even sicker after the team's scheduled home opener. Before the Blazers arrived, the Civic Center never had ice installed. When a new Zamboni arrived just before the Friday the 13th game, the structure beneath the ice buckled, unable to support the weight of the ice plus the Zamboni. It caused the ice to crack and the game had to be cancelled. Fans were given an orange puck as a memento of the game and showered the ice with them after the announcement of the cancellation. The Blazers must have felt hexed as problems just continued to escalate. Bernie Parent would break his foot. They would lose their first seven games, at which point McKenzie handed over the coaching reigns to chief scout Phil Watson. The team's downward spiral would continue, with a 4-16 start. But an amazing turnaround started to happen.
Derek Sanderson wrenched his back on a piece of paper on the ice. It would be the last time he would play for the Blazers. As he recuperated in Florida, a $1,000,000 buyout would later arrive on January 2nd. Until the buyout, Sanderson was permanently benched. His lack of commitment was deemed a distraction to the team. In the meantime, Bernie Parent returned from his injury and would play in 58 straight games. Andre Lacroix, signed from Chicago started to pile up points and Danny Lawson started scoring at an amazing rate.
Despite the improved play the Blazers couldn't get many people to attend games. They had only 1000 season tickets. For a December 8th game, the AP reported only 750 fans showed up to a game against the New York Raiders. By mid November, Brown took over sole ownership from Cooper, who was the man who was responsible for the Sanderson signing.
By the end of February the Blazers were actually in a playoff race. On Febuary 22nd, Danny Lawson became the first player in WHA history to get 50 goals. His "Fire Line" linemate, Andre Lacroix was battling the Raiders' Ron Ward for the scoring race. On March 31st, Lacroix would clinch the scoring title. Then on the last game of the season and on the last goal of the season, Lacroix would pot his 50th goal. Lacroix would end up being the leading scorer in the history of the WHA. The team would elevate itself to third place, and a playoff date against the Cleveland Crusaders.
Even at this point, off ice problems weren't a thing of the past. There was a special escrow account where the money for Bernie Parent's contract was held. Even if the WHA folded, Bernie was supposed to be guaranteed this money. Bernie and his agent discovered that this account was emptied, so after a game 1 overtime playoff loss, Parent left the team in protest. The Blazers suspended Parent and were swept by Cleveland.
An average attendance of just over 4000 game per game wasn't enough to support the team. On May 11th, the Blazers were bought by Vancouver's Jim Pattison. On May 22nd the sale was completed and the team relocated to Vancouver.