A chance meeting in Lancaster, PA on Mother’s Day 1972 led to the birth of the Philadelphia Blazers Hockey Club. At an Insurance Lawyer Convention there James L. Cooper ran into his friend, Dick Wood, the new owner of the New York franchise (Raiders) of the World Hockey Association (WHA). After congratulating him, Cooper discovered that Wood was on his way to a WHA Board meeting in Quebec. Also a group from Philadelphia was on its way there to apply for the franchise that Miami (Screaming Eagles) had just lost. Wood offered to talk to the league directors if Cooper was interested. Cooper was very interested. A Philadelphia Flyers season ticket holder from day one, this was a dream come true, but he needed financial backing. After arriving back home to the Jersey shore that evening, he immediately called a friend, the one person he thought would go in with him.
Enter fellow New Jersey resident Bernard Brown, a prominent businessman and banker. A brief conversation ensued, and after Cooper answered Brown’s big question about how much it would take? “About $4 or $4.5 million”, was the reply, Cooper had a promise from Brown to cover any checks he would need to write.
The next morning Cooper got himself to Quebec for the WHA league meeting, but without permission to attend. With the help of his friend Dick Wood, by that afternoon the WHA had approved Cooper and Brown conditional ownership of the Philadelphia franchise. By that evening all the paper work and financial arrangements were completed. As Cooper was leaving Quebec with his conditional franchise the other Philadelphia group was just arriving. Oops! The early lawyer catches the franchise.
One of the league’s conditions was that the Blazers would have an adequate playing arena under contract by June 1. Cooper had a condition of his own. He wanted to insure that his new team had a familiar face to the fans of Philadelphia. Bernie Parent was that man. The WHA guaranteed that Parent’s rights would transfer from the Miami Screaming Eagles to the new Philadelphia franchise. On May 31st. the Philadelphia Blazers officially became a member of the WHA and Parent was signed a few days later. This was the start of a busy signing season, next came the man who would became the greatest player in WHA history, Andre Lacroix. Then John McKenzie as player-coach, right wing Danny Lawson, center Bryan Campbell and then what turned out to be the most controversial signing of them all, Derek “Turk” Sanderson.