Canadian Ben Hatskin was chairman of the World Hockey Association (WHA), the upstart rival professional league that reshaped the National Hockey League (NHL).
In 1972, in a scenario reminiscent of the 1960s upstart American Football League rivalry with the National Football League, Hatskin, owner of the Winnipeg Jets, was a driving force for the new pro league, luring NHL superstar Bobby Hull to jump from the NHL to the WHL's Jets with a then-astounding $1 million offer. It was a move that legitimized the young league among both fans and media.
With the Hull signing, WHA rinks were now a palatable destination for other NHL stars, and the league became a serious concern to the long established NHL.
The WHA operated successfully 1972 to 1979, after which the two leagues merged, resulting in four WHA teams joining the expanded NHL: Hatskin's own Winnipeg Jets, and the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers (today's Carolina Hurricanes) and the Quebec Nordiques.
Hatskin organized the Jets franchise in 1968, originally as an entry in the independent Western Canada Hockey League.
In 1973, he was named Sporting News Magazine's Executive of the Year in Sports Award.