The championship trophy of the now-defunct World Hockey Association, the 'Avco Cup' was awarded 7 times, once for each year of the WHA's operation. The Trophy took its name from the sponsor, Avco Corporation*, then a separate entity in the aviation business, since acquired by Textron Inc.

The Trophy was retired when the WHA folded in 1979. There are at least three known copies - though one of these which appears in on-line photos seems to be a replica awarded to the championship team of one season, and as such would feature the names of the players on the that season's championship team. Both Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame and Halifax's Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame house what appears to be the authentic Trophy. It's not clear if either or both are the real thing - the answer may be lost to sports history. In fact, neither may be the real deal. Barry Shenkarow, former owner of the Winnipeg Jets claims to have the actual trophy. According to Metronews columnist Marty York, Shenkarow has the Cup at his house. He quotes Barry: "It's in my house ... I have the Cup that was awarded after the final game of the WHA ... its never left my sight for 28 years. I wonder what it is they have."

The Trophy itself is a large silver bowl** mounted atop a cylinder of clear Lucite with a silver Globe embedded inside. That sits atop a cobalt blue cylinder, itself atop a slightly wider silver disc at the base. The main cylinder is emblazoned with "THE AVCO WORLD TROPHY" on a central silver plaque. Flanking this plaque on each side are is column of silver plaques, five to a side, listing the Avco World Trophy Championship teams:

The three lower-left plaques are empty, although there may be hope....

After the league folded in 1979, the four franchises that had lasted all seven years -- the New England Whalers, the Winnipeg Jets, the Quebec Nordiques, and the Edmonton Oilers -- all joined the National Hockey League. Subsequently the Jets relocated to Phoenix, the Nords to Denver, and the Whalers to Raleigh. The Oilers were led to NHL success by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, and the Nords later found Stanley Cup glory as the Colorado Avalanche, but the WHA refugees never again met with a championship on the line -- until 2006.

Oh so many years later, in June 2006, we had an NHL playoff final between the victorious Carolina Hurricanes (nee New England Whalers) and the Edmonton Oilers. In other words, it's the first AVCO World Trophy Championship in 26 years! Even if either of its apparent custodians would cough it up for presentation, or even consent to add the 'Canes to the trophy, the NHL brass probably would not allow it. But it's amusing to think about it!

* Some sources attribute the cup to the AVCO Financial Services Corporation, but I belive this to be erroneous, as AVCO Financial would have been a division or wholly-owned sub of Avco Corp at the time.

** I'm sorry - I don't know how much beer it could hold. I'll try to find out.

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