Jump to content

Cleveland Crusaders MVRP post


Recommended Posts

Another WHA post, if anyone is interested, this time the Cleveland Crusaders.


  The WHA began play in the 1972-73 season, the Boston Bruins were the hardest hit with defections, among others John 'pie' McKenzie and Derek Sanderson signed with the Philadelphia club, but the biggest loss was the man with the stitches all over his mask representing where the puck would have hit him in the face without a mask on, the future hall of famer Gerry Cheevers who signed to be the face, errrr mask of the new Cleveland franchise.

  Other solid NHLers signed, among them forward Gary Jarrett who would play all four years in Crusader history, underrated blueliner Paul Schmyr, he of the bowl haircut and the nasty disposition little Gerry Pinder who was a fine offensive forward despite his lack of size, The Hillman boys, Larry and Wayne playing out the string on solid careers finished by playing together with the Crusaders.

  This was a club that made the playoffs with a bunch of non descript players lacking in identity a bunch of Skip Krakes who were not much as NHLers and were the same when they came to the WHA.

  There first stadium was in the old downtown Cleveland stadium, Shmyr years later said that it was a scary place to play in the worst part of town and every player on the team wanted to wear their helmet to and from their cars. According to schmyr, "I think every player on the club was robbed or mugged at least once in the two years we played there. Two guys had cars stolen. I had a guy mug me and ask for my watch and I had to tell him that he got that the week before."

  After the first two seasons they moved to the Richfield Coliseum in the middle of nowhere. A wonderful state of the art facility, really ahead of its time, a jumbotron and fantastic lighting, the only problem was it was 45 minutes from town and people did not want to drive that far. The club averaged six thousand a game at the take your life in your hands Cleveland Stadium, it stayed the same in the new facility. 

  Four straight seasons of playoffs and losing early, Cheevers asked for his buyout and returned to Boston. The players started getting paychecks that could not be cashed, and the club closed for business, moving to Minnesota to become the second incarnation of the Minnesota Fighting Saints. By January of that year the club folded outright, smack dab in the middle of the season.

  As far as star players for Cleveland Cheevers easily hands down is the MVRP of the forgotten organization, carrying the talentless club on his shoulders. Among others on the club:


CHEEVERS Best player on the club. His white and stitched up mask looked really cool on the deep purple that the Crusaders wore.


Gerry Pinder All time leader in games played with the Crusaders with 304.


Gary Jarrett At the old Stadium, instead of plexiglass they had chicken wire circling behind the net. Jarrett was given a reputation of knowing how to 'play the wire'. He played the chicken wire behind the net like a pro, always seeming to know where the puck would land. It must have worked, he is the Crusaders all time leading scorer with 104 goals and 223 total points.


RON WARD The garbage man, scored 2 goals with the Canucks in his final season in the NHL and then had 51 in his first season in the WHA with the New York Raiders. 96 goals and 206 points with Cleveland, the guy set up in front of the net flicking at rebounds getting hacked and whacked in the legs the whole time but got the most out of his talent in the WHA.


PAUL SHMYR A real solid d-man, left the Golden Seals to sign with the WHA just days after Bobby Hull signed with Winnipeg. He starred all four years with Cleveland then played the final three years of the WHA in San Diego and Edmonton. A classy well liked player after the merger he went on to play for the North Stars where as there Captain he led them to a surprise Stanley Cup appearance against the Islanders. A great first pass, a nasty streak, he epitomized the nasty hard hitting blue liner. Paul died of throat cancer in 2004 but his popularity in his league continued and in 2010 he was honored as an inaugural member of the WHA hall of fame.


  Purple, I mean PURPLE jerseys, Cheevers, the garbage man, Shmyr and his bowl haircut, players getting mugged in the parking lot on the way to the games, these are the things I think of when I think of the Cleveland Crusaders.


Edited by yave1964
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...