PITTSBURGH -- The Hockey Hall of Fame is hoping to convince players, team officials and fans of the WHA to dig through their memorabilia and make donations to spice up its collection of sticks, sweaters and pucks from the rebel league.
Craig Campbell, manager of the HHOF's resource centre and archives, said while it currently has a decent number of items from the WHA, which operated for seven unpredictable seasons from 1972-79, there are some definite holes.
"Do we have the game-winning goal puck from the last championship? Do we have any equipment (from the Jets' AVCO Cup victory in 1979?)," he said.
"Let's hope that some of the players and administrators have something tucked away, some contracts or original documentation of the WHA forming. We would certainly hope in this pursuit that maybe some cool WHA items will come our way and we can display the rich history that the WHA has," he said.
It's no coincidence the HHOF's efforts are happening just a few months shy of the 40th anniversary of the 1974 Summit Series, which featured the Soviet Union national team and WHA all-stars. The Russians won 4-1-3, despite the efforts of Bobby Hull, who was the leading scorer with seven goals two years after being famously barred from the 1972 series because he signed with Winnipeg.
"The WHA still has relevance today. Maybe lots of hockey fans don't know about it or don't know about the players, but that's our role, to educate people about the history of the game," he said.
Campbell said items don't necessarily have to come from players who went on to stellar careers in the NHL, either.
"We want items from WHA guys who played five to seven seasons and were household names in that league. Those are the players we want to preserve, they were the fabric of the WHA," he said.
One player who would fit the bill is Kim Clackson, who played two seasons with the Indianapolis Racers and won two AVCO Cups with the Jets in 1978 and 1979.
Now working in real estate in CBRE's Pittsburgh office, Clackson said he will consider donating an item or two to the HHOF but he wants to keep his framed, game-worn jersey, his miniature AVCO Cups and some sticks from his championship years.
Clackson said he hasn't gone through his collection in more than a decade but he knows he has two unique items -- the only mirror in the Jets dressing room and a diaper with his picture on it.
"In Indianapolis, they gave me $2,500 to sign Kimbies Diapers. They were cloth diapers that you could buy for your kids at the time," he said with a laugh.
In all seriousness, however, Clackson said it's about time that the HHOF gave the WHA its due.
"Our 1978 Jets team with Ulf (Nilsson), Anders (Hedberg) and Bobby (Hull) would have competed very well against the Montreal Canadiens," he said.
Campbell was in Pittsburgh overseeing a small selection of HHOF items on display as part of "Pop Up Canada," a program promoting economic and cultural ties between Canada and Pennsylvania.
Campbell said he respects that some people might want to sell vintage items but he can at least offer a charitable tax receipt.
And if there's no signature on a donated item, even better.
"We just want puck marks and stick marks. That sweater or stick was not played with (a player's) signature on it," he said.