Behind the Lens
The World Hockey Association 50 Years Later
A one-of-a-kind collection including some never-before-seen photographs of the wild and unforgettable WHA from legendary sports photographer Steve Babineau
On October 12, 1972, legendary Boston sports photographer, Steve Babineau, was in attendance for the debut of the New England Whalers. They were taking on the Philadelphia Blazers at the old Boston Garden — and Babs was shooting the action. Fifty years later, he’s still photographing big-league sports events — but this lovingly curated collection documents both his earliest published (and unseen) works and the wild emergence of the colorful, revolutionary, wild, and unforgettable WHA.
In an era when rolls of film still had to be changed by hand and cameras were focused manually, when arena lighting was questionable and images had to be captured through the haze produced by smoking fans, Babineau captured it all: the timeless legends who were finally getting paid, the journeymen who finally got a shot at the pros, the 17-year-old who would go on to rewrite record books, the brawls and goals, the glorious ’staches and flows, the highs and the lows …
Behind the Lens: The World Hockey Association 50 Years Later has the Golden Jet and the Howes, the teams that seemed to change names and cities as often as some players changed wooden sticks, and even the true origin story of that Wayne Gretzky photo that’s become the million-dollar holy grail for sports card collectors.
Steve Babineau is the team photographer of the Boston Bruins. His art has appeared in countless magazines, books, sports card products, video games, and licensed MLB, NBA, and NHL league products. In 2007, the National Hockey League acquired 35 years of his work in hockey — a collection of more than 300,000 images. He lives in Boston, MA.
Brian Codagnone is the associate curator of The Sports Museum at TD Garden. He is the author of The Hartford Whalers and Hey, America! It’s Misfits Time!, and the co-author of The Bruins in Black and White. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, The Hockey Magazine, and the Boston Phoenix. He lives in Wakefield, MA.