The 1977-78 season was the penultimate for the World Hockey Association. The Birmingham Bulls were perhaps trying to take a page out of the book on the Philadelphia Flyers from a few years earlier. However, the Birmingham bullying and slaughter did not win them a championship.

The Bulls were led by Ken ‘The Rat’ Linseman, who scored 38 and assisted on 38 more for 76 points in 71 games. Birmingham was led by veteran players Paul Henderson and Frank Mahovlich, but the team finished sixth of eight teams with 75 points in the 80-game schedule. The Bulls then lost in the first round of the Avco Cup playoffs to the Winnipeg Jets, the eventual champion. The team was coached by Glen Sonmor. Sonmor would lead the Minnesota North Stars to the Stanley Cup Final just two years later.

The top four players with the most penalty minutes in the WHA in 1977-78 were all members of the Birmingham Bulls.

Steve Durbano – 284 PIMs in 45 games

Steve ‘Demolition Durby’ Durbano played his only 45 WHA games for the Bulls in 1977-78. He also contributed offensively with six goals and four assists for ten points. Durbano played youth hockey in the OHA with the Toronto Marlboros from 1968-69 to 1970-71.

Steve was a first-round pick by the New York Rangers in 1971, ranking 13th overall in the NHL Amateur Draft. He played in 220 NHL games between 1972-73 and 1978-79 with the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies.

Frank Beaton – 279 PIMs in 56 games

Frank ‘Seldom’ Beaton was an undrafted player who appeared in 153 WHA games with the Cincinnati Stingers, Edmonton Oilers, and Birmingham Bulls. Along with his PIM of 279, he also scored six and totaled 15 points. Beaton appeared in 25 National Hockey League games, all with the New York Rangers.

Gilles Bilodeau – 258 IMPs in 59 games

‘Bad news’ Bilodeau offended the Bulls very little with just two goals and two assists in 1977-78. He was drafted into the WHA by the Toronto Bulls in 1975, drafted 121st overall in the ninth round.

Gilles Bilodeau played in 143 WHA games for the Bulls and the Quebec Nordiques. He played in nine NHL games with the Nordiques when they joined the league for the 1979-80 season. In 1975-76, with Beauce Jaros of the North American Hockey League, Bilodeau hit a league record 451 PIMs in just 58 games.

Dave Hanson – 241 IMPs in 42 games

The only ‘Brother Hanson’ from the movie ‘Slap Shot’ who was actually a Hanson. Dave played Jack Hanson in the 1977 cult movie. Despite his high total of penalty minutes in as few games, Hanson contributed the most of the four offensively with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points.

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