The franchise was formed in 1971 as the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Whalers saw success immediately, winning the Eastern Division in the WHA's first three seasons, as well as becoming the inaugural Avco World Trophy Champions to cap off the 1972–73 season. The Whalers again competed for the World Trophy in 1978, this time falling short to the Winnipeg Jets in a rematch of the 1973 Finals. The franchise joined the NHL in 1979 as part of the NHL–WHA merger, renaming themselves the Hartford Whalers. The team relocated to North Carolina in 1997, rebranding themselves as the Hurricanes. Carolina advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 2002, where they were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings. The Hurricanes won the 2006 Stanley Cup over the Edmonton Oilers, giving the state of North Carolina its first, and as of 2021, only major professional sports championship.