An abundance of hockey news emanating from National Hockey League training camps today. The injury bug is biting everywhere, unsigned players are getting antsy and coaches are beginning to become disenchanted with dubious training efforts. Let’s get to it!
Pulford, Horton Back in Camp
The two highest-profile unsigned members of the Toronto Maple Leafs are back in training camp. Forward Bob Pulford pulled in yesterday and began participating in workouts. This morning star defenceman Tim Horton was on the ice for drills as well. Neither player has yet signed his contract for this season.
Leafs third holdout, left winger Brian Conacher, remains absent with no indication on a return date.
Pulford wouldn’t comment when asked why he showed up in Peterborough:
“I don’t feel I’m in a position to discuss why I decided to return. It was my decision. It’s important that I get into shape and this is the only place for me to get into condition.”
Pulford also told Globe and Mail reporter Lou Cauz that he didn’t know if he will be fined by general manager-coach Punch Imlach. It is believed he is asking for a $10-$12,000 a year raised over last year’s salary of $28,000.
Imlach seems tired with the entire salary dispute issue:
“It starts to get you down after a while.”
Hillman Looks to Cash In
After a 13-year professional hockey career where he’s always been on the fringe between the NHL and the minors leagues, Larry Hillman believes he’s ready for permanent work in the big league, and the accompanying major league salary.
Hillman starred for the Leafs in last spring’s surprising Stanley Cup playoff win. Partnered with veteran Marcel Pronovost, the duo became Punch Imlach’s go-to defensive unit.
Larry told Toronto Star’s Red Burnett that, even though he is not yet signed, contract negotiations are going well:
“I am having no problems with management. Punch and King have been talking to me about a two-year deal.
“I was figuring on signing for one season. Now I have to do a lot of figuring and thinking before accepting an offer that runs for two years.
“I’d like a chance to come to camp not worrying about contract. But the figures have to be right.”
Hillman blamed his up-and-down career on bad luck and injuries. He began with a six-game trial with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1954-55 season, coming up from the Hamilton Tiger Cubs Junior A team. After a couple of seasons split between the Red Wings and the minors, Hillman was claimed by the Black Hawks from Detroit in the Intra-league draft. But before he could play a game with Chicago, the Boston Bruins claimed him on waivers on the eve of the 1957-58 season.
After his first season with the Bruins, he suffered a shoulder injury and missed much of 1958-59. He found himself in the American Hockey League with Providence for most of 1959-60. In June of 1960 Punch Imlach claimed him for Toronto in the Intra-league draft. He’s been up and down with the Leafs ever since.
Hillman finally feels that his performance last spring means he has turned a corner and will be a full-time contributor to the defending Stanley Cup champions for years to come.
Smythes, Hap Day in Tax Suit
The Canadian government has filed a law suit for taxes against Conn Smythe, his son Stafford Smythe and Clarence (Hap) Day, former coach and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Crown alleges that the three owe taxes on money received when they sold their shares in C. Smythe Ltd. In 1961.
The Crown says the money derived from the sale is income rather than capital gain.
The amounts in dispute are: Conn Smythe $238,827, Stafford Smythe $123,084, Hap Day $55,044.
North Stars Clobber Kings
The Minnesota North Stars had their way with the Los Angeles Kings last night in Hamilton Ontario. The Stars skated to an easy 7-3 win in the first exhibition game for the Los Angeles crew.
Winger Leo Thiffault fired a pair of goals to pace the Minnesota attack. Singles came from Dave Balon, Wayne Connelly, Bill Collins, Bill Goldsworthy and Parker MacDonald. Real Lemieux, Brian Smith and Bill White countered for the Kings.
Los Angeles did not have goalie Terry Sawchuk for the game. Jacques Caron and Wayne Rutledge split the netminding duties. Carl Wetzel went all the way between the pipes for the North Stars.
Kings coach Red Kelly didn’t hide his disappointment in a terse, short statement after the game:
“The North Stars worked a little harder than we did.”
The two teams meet again tonight and Minnesota coach Wren Blair expects a tougher match:
“If Sawchuk’s in there, he’ll cut two goals off what we got tonight. I know some people were criticizing the Los Angeles picks last summer but I don’t agree. Many of the players they got were high on my own list. Even getting beat by four goals, they were a better team than the one (California) we played last night.”
Injuries Everywhere (So It Seems)
NHL teams are having to deal with injuries this fall much like citizens of Winnipeg have to with Mosquitoes all summer – they’re everywhere! Maybe it’s because there are twice as many NHL teams now, but he sick bay roster seems to be expanding daily. Here’s some of what the teams are having to work around so far:
- Jim Pappin of Toronto is missing workouts because, of all things, the flu. He won’t play in Thursday’s exhibition game.
- Defenceman Steve Hunt, a Canadiens prospect, suffered a gash over the eye. It’s not known how long he will be out.
- Rangers left winger Larry Jeffrey, who scored three goals in their 7-0 exhibition game win over Boston, has developed fluid on his left knee and will be out for 10 days.
- Another Ranger, centre Red Berenson, will be out four or five days with a bruised ankle.
- Bobby Orr tested his injured knee at Bruins training camp and pronounced it doing very well. Coach Harry Sinden says he had to chase Orr off the ice, as the club wants him to take things slowly.
- Bruins captain John Bucyk is staring slowly as he recovers from a back injury he suffered last season.
- Los Angeles Kings have lost defenceman Larry Johnston with a knee injury for an indeterminate period. He was with Springfield in the AHL last season.
- Pittsburgh’s Bob Dillabough had knee surgery in the off-season and has not recovered yet. He’s being severely hampered during training camp.
- Roger Pelletier, a defenceman with Quebec Aces last year, is hobbling around the Philadelphia camp on crutches with a knee problem.
- Bruins coach Harry Sinden was so upset with his team’s play in their first two exhibition games that he ordered the team back on the ice for a late-night workout at London’s Treasure Island Gardens. This was just after their 7-0 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers.
- The Kings have suspended forward Bill Sweeney after he inexplicably left the ice during practice yesterday. General manager Larry Regan said the suspension was “indefinite” and was levied for “disciplinary reasons.”
- Seals coach Bert Olmstead says he is disappointed in the play of three of the team’s top draft choices: Bill Hicke, Bobby Baun and Kent Douglas. Olmstead believes it’s a conditioning issue and all three will be better if they round into shape.
- Two players that impressed Olmstead so far are rookie Ron Boehm and veteran Gerry Odrowski.
- Pittsburgh Penguins have signed veteran right wing Andy Bathgate to a one-year contract. Bathgate was the Penguins 17th pick in last summer’s Expansion Draft.
- St. Louis Blues released seven amateur players and at the same time brought in five free agents. Players signed to tryouts include defencemen Doug Barrie and Larry Hornung, and forwards Larry Billows, Don Giesebrecht and John Gofton. Another significant add might be defenceman Doug Harvey, who was slated to be the playing-coach the Kansas City Blues of the Central Professional Hockey League. He arrived in camp yesterday.
- Flyers have signed defenceman John Miszuk and centre Garry Peters.
- Philadelphia also loaned goalie Claude Cyr and forward Ron Racette to the Phoenix Roadrunners of the Western Hockey League for one year.
- Leafs goalie Johnny Bower reiterated that he may try a face mask in games this year. He has been using several different models made by Dr. Richard Bell, who passed away this summer.
- Mr. and Mrs. Franke Selke celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend in Montreal.
- Canadian actor Lorne Greene of the television show “Bonanza” has been asked by Jack Kent Cooke to participate in the grand opening of his new arena, The Forum, in Los Angeles.