With the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp in full swing and several others about to kick off, there is lots of news and notes from around the National Hockey League.
Kelly Won’t Play
At the Los Angeles Kings training camp in Guelph, Ontario, early speculation had coach Red Kelly donning the skates and serving in a dual role as player-coach. The soft-spoken redhead put that notion to rest yesterday:
“Playing is a full-time job and so is coaching, and with a new team I’ll have enough problems coaching.
“The old teams usually have only three or four pieces to fill and they often have two or three lines held over from the previous year. We have a lot of individual players we have to mold into a team. “
The Kings expect a total of 75 players to suit up for the first workout tomorrow. Players have been in town since Wednesday, when they were to report for physicals and meetings. Their American Hockey League farm team, the Springfield Kings, will also hold camp with the parent team in Guelph. Springfield coach Johnny Wilson will assist Kelly and Los Angeles general manager Larry Regan.
Armstrong Looks Good
Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong looks like the best player in training camp according to Leafs assistant coach and general manager King Clancy.
“The best hockey player out there by a country mile” Clancy said of Armstrong, who had threatened to retire when he wasn’t protected in last June’s National Hockey League Expansion Draft.
Armstrong explained why he relented on his decision to retire, also saying he was a little embarrassed by the situation:
“To say you’re going to quit is easy. It’s harder to do it, especially when hockey has been your whole life. When the time comes, it’s another thing.
“I had no thoughts in my mind about quitting when I was on top, a member of a Stanley Cup championship team. But I honestly thought I would be of little use to the team next season. If the team hadn’t done so well, maybe I would have come back without all this.
“I don’t think anyone can be objective, properly, about himself. Imlach is a better judge of me than myself, and if he feels I can make a contribution, I’ll get a contract. But it is still up to me to prove I can. That’s why I’m here.”
Armstrong also admitted that had he been drafted by one of the expansion teams, he just might have reported anyway.
Pulford’s Absence Hot Topic
The absence of Bob Pulford from the Maple Leaf camp has been the topic of conversation throughout the NHL. Toronto general manager-coach Punch Imlach caused a stir yesterday when he ordered Pulford’s equipment removed from the team’s dressing room. Some thought this was an indication that a trade to another team was imminent.
A hot rumour making the rounds last night had the Leafs sending Pulford to arch-rival Montreal Canadiens in exchange for former Toronto forward Dick Duff. Imlach refused to comment on that notion.
Imlach did confirm that one of the other missing players, Brian Conacher, had tried to call him by telephone, but they did not make a connection. When asked if he would have spoken to Conacher if he had been present to take the call, Imlach had this to say:
“Sure. These people are my friends. It’s common decency to speak to someone who phones you. I wouldn’t have talked to him, though, if he had called me collect.”
Wings, Penguins Swap Goalies
The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday announced a trade involving a pair of veteran goalkeepers. The Red Wings sent 34-year-old Hank Bassen to the Penguins in exchange for Roy Edwards, 30. Edwards was the Penguins second pick in the goaltender phase of the Expansion Draft.
Bassen played eight games for the Red Wings last season compiling a 2-4-0 record with a 3.44 goals-against average. He was sent to the American Hockey League Pittsburgh Hornets, where he led the club to the AHL Calder Cup championship. In the AHL playoffs he won eight games, lost only one and posted a sparkling 1.66 goals-against average.
Edwards spent the last two seasons with the AHL Buffalo Bisons, splitting goaltending duties with Ed Chadwick. His record last season was nine wins, 24 losses and five ties, with a 5.07 goals-against average. But don’t let the mediocre record fool you, both he and Chadwick performed heroically for a team that was otherwise devoid of talent.
Penguins coach Red Sullivan likes what Bassen brings to the team:
“He’s a fighting type of goaltender and he’ll bring a lot of life to our team.”
Bassen will fight for one of two goaltending jobs available with the Penguins. Draft pick Joe Daley and Les Binkley, acquired from Cleveland Barons a year ago, also will vie for a spot.
Kings Pay out Blades
Dick Beddoes of the Toronto Globe & Mail says that Los Angeles Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke has settled his territorial indemnification lawsuit with former Western Hockey League team Los Angeles Blades. Terms of the settlement, according to Beddoes, include a payout to the former Blades owners Dan Reeves and Jim Piggott, of $500,000.
In addition, Cooke and the NHL will pay out about $160,000 over the next five years to each of the remaining WHL teams – Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Diego.
California Seals earlier paid about $90,000 to five WHL cities as part of their indemnification settlement.
Toronto Maple Leafs owned the Victoria franchise and received one of those $90,000 payments, then turned around and sold the franchise for $500,000 to folks who moved the team to Phoenix, where it will be known as the “Roadrunners.”
More Players to Stay Away from Training Camps
Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star reports that more players will absent themselves from their NHL team training camps over the next few days. Dunnell cites a source within the National Hockey League Players Association. Dunnell says the source listed the following players who will be “no-shows”:
New York Rangers: Arnie Brown, Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield. Harry Howell, who has reportedly signed his 1967-68 contract, may also stay away. Apparently a dispute has arisen over some aspects of his deal.
Boston Bruins: Eddie Shack and Ed Westfall. Shack is involved in a salary dispute with the Bruins and wasn’t expected to show until they agree on money.
Detroit Red Wings: Ted Hampson, Norm Ullman and Bruce MacGregor. Ullman, like Toronto’s Bob Pulford, was instrumental in the organization of the players association.
Chicago Black Hawks: Pat Stapleton and Pit Martin. Martin was dealt to Chicago back in May in the off-season’s biggest player trade.
- Pittsburgh Penguins have begun moving into their training facility in Brantford, Ontario.
- Leafs Pete Stemkowski may need surgery on a painful left elbow. Bursitis is the cause.
- Other Toronto training camp injuries include rookie Bob Kelly (broken toe) and Jim Pappin (arm laceration)
- Minnesota North Stars have hired Canadian fitness expert Lloyd Percival.
- North Stars have signed goalkeepers Cesare Maniago and Gary Bauman. Both were chosen in the June Expansion Draft.
- Rochester Americans general manager-coach Joe Crozier says that if Bronco Horvath, Red Armstrong and Stan Smrke continue to be absent from training camp past Sunday, they will each be fined $25 per day absent.
- Joe Crozier is high on former Marlboros defenceman Mike Pelyk, who has shown well at the Amerks training camp so far.
- Defenceman Dick Cherry has advised the Philadelphia Flyers that he is retiring to teach physical education in Kingston, Ontario.
- The box seat capacity in the Philadelphia Spectrum has been increased from 500 to 875 because of a high demand for top-priced tickets.
- Detroit Red Wings have high hopes for three graduates of the Hamilton Red Wings Junior A club: Don Giesebrecht, Sandy Snow and Fred Speck. Wings are also high on former Edmonton Oil Kings Galen Head, a forward, and goalkeeper Don McLeod.