The Cincinnati Stingers were a World Hockey Association (WHA) team that was relatively successful in that they were a stable WHA franchise, lasting four years without any rumors of moving or folding. Much of that stability likely had to do with the fact that they had a new arena to play in, the Riverfront Coliseum (now US Bank Arena). Unfortunately for the hockey fans in Cincy, they ended up getting the short straw when the WHA merged with the NHL.
The Stingers had been a WHA expansion franchise in 1975-76, joining the league along with the Denver Spurs… The Spurs are an interesting-enough story that I’ve started researching them as the next “Forgotten Franchise”.
The Stingers’ best season was 1976-77 when they went 39-37-5 and finished 2nd in the east to the Quebec Nordiques, but got swept in 4 games by the Indianapolis Racers in the first round of the playoffs.
Although some of the NHL/WHA merger proposals included the Stingers, it became apparent that the NHL wasn’t all that interested in absorbing the Stingers, as their attendance was below NHL standards. When the merger was completed, the Stingers and Birmingham Bulls were paid to disband.
The Stingers remain the only major league hockey team that Cincinnati has had.
The Stingers had a fair number of notable players, including two HOFers: Mike Gartner and Mark Messier were teenagers during their brief time as Stingers.
Other players of note include Dennis Sobczuk, Robbie Ftorek (who lead the WHA in Assists in 78/79), Rick Dudley, Blaine Stoughton, Gilles Marrotte, Barry Melrose and Mike Liut:
Ron Plumb was another notable Stinger, and the only Stinger to win a league award, getting the Dennis A. Murphy Trophy (awarded to the WHA’s top defenseman) in 1976/77.
When I was a kid in the 1970’s, I picked the Stingers as my favorite WHA team… despite the fact that I’d never seen a WHA game, not even on TV. I was just intrigued as could be about a rival hockey league, I was at an age where I *had* to have a favorite team in any league in any sport, and I loved the Stingers’ logo and colors. Because of that early “fandom”, I have a minor goal of collecting all of the Stingers cards from their 4 years of existence, plus any additional cards that might pop up, like the above 2007-08 In The Game card of Mike Liut. I’d tell you about my progress towards that goal, but I honestly have no idea of where I stand.