Happy October everyone! The first day of October always means two things to me – an imminent World Series and the return of hockey.
The 1967 World Series should be a good one, with the St. Louis Cardinals meeting whoever emerges in the American League from between the Red Sox and Tigers. If the Red Sox can complete the sweep the Twins today and the Tigers take both ends of a doubleheader with the Angels, then we’ll have a playoff to determine who meets the Cards.
It’s good to be back from Winnipeg. Had a great visit with my son and that city does begin to grow on you. It’s a shame there isn’t a pro hockey team in town right now, but maybe with the American and Western hockey leagues talking about a possible merger could we see the return of professional ice wars to Canada’s prairies? That would be great!
Today we’ll have a look at some of the significant hockey news that took place over the past week. There were many player signings and some high-profile holdouts came to an end. Team rosters have started to take shape, and the National Hockey League announced plans to deal with real-world problems. And the opening of the season is just 10 days away!
Campbell Addresses Disasters, Cancellations
NHL president Clarence Campbell spoke this week about some of the real-world problems that could face the league in the new era of league expansion. With twice as many teams, Campbell believes the chances are great that disruptions to the operation of the league have increased proportionately. To that end, he has advised the league governors to be ready for anything and to have contingency plans in place.
Red Burnett of the Toronto Star reported on Clarence Campbell’s statements. Campbell said that as many as 80 NHL games could end up being postponed during the upcoming 444 game schedule.
“Those 80 postponements could be caused by lack of air transportation because of poor weather, the unavailability or malfunction of the aircraft. If postponements occur, the games will be played at the earliest possible date convenient to the home team. Under no circumstances will we fail to re-schedule and play a postponed game.”
Campbell also said that the NHL has adopted a new disaster recovery plan and fund. The league has had a similar contingency in place for years. It has now been updated to conform with double of the number of NHL teams.
The Disaster Insurance would come into play only if a team had more than five players killed or disabled so severely that they were unable to play in 15 consecutive games. A fund providing $100,000 per player would be available to the aggrieved team. That team may then find it possible to negotiate the purchase of replacements from other teams. Participation in this sort of restocking would be on a voluntary basis.
Any team that sold players to the disabled team would then be exempt from a restocking draft, if such a draft took place. A restocking draft would enable the disabled club to replenish its roster to total 18 skaters and two goalkeepers.
Campbell’s Playoff Plan Rejected
On another league issue, the president’s proposed plan for the Stanley Cup playoffs was rejected by the league’s Board of Governors.
Campbell’s suggestion was to have the first and third, second and fourth-place teams in each division meet in the first playoff round. In the second round, the first round winners would meet their counterparts from the other division. The final round would see the survivors of round two meet for the Stanley Cup.
This system would have likely ensured that two established clubs would meet to play in the final.
The governors’ plan would have the two divisions each declare a winner via two rounds of playoffs. The divisional winners would meet for the Stanley Cup. This guarantees that an expansion team will have a berth in the Stanley Cup final series.
Rod’s Mod Look Irks The Cat
New York Rangers general manager-coach Emile (The Cat) Francis certainly must have had mixed feelings when star right winger Rod Gilbert finally showed up to training camp on September 25 after a nearly three-week holdout.
Gilbert, who still hasn’t signed and is reportedly looking for the richest contract in team history, arrived with a rather unkempt head of hair and long sideburns that would make Elvis Presley proud. Francis was, to say the least, not pleased:
“Nobody can play for New York with a haircut like that.”
Francis has been actively trying to deal the disgruntled young forward, but hasn’t yet been able to arrange a suitable barter. Dick Beddoes of the Toronto Globe and Mail suggested a deal for another holdout, Toronto’s Bob Pulford, could be arranged.
Francis would not comment on his efforts to swap Gilbert other than to say that every team can use a digger like Bob Pulford.
Philadelphia’s $12-million sports and entertainment venue, The Spectrum, opened its doors yesterday. It was thought the new arena’s debut might be delayed by a variety of labour disputes, but things went off pretty much as scheduled.
The building, built on a 10-acre former dump site in South Philadelphia, stands six stories high, is 273 feet wide and 388 feet long. It will seat 15,000 for hockey. The stadium sits at the end of Broad Street next to the Philadelphia Naval Base. The Delaware Expressway, slated to be completed in 1970, will funnel traffic to the site’s 15,000 parking spaces. New football and baseball stadia will be built adjacent to the Spectrum.
One writer referred to the arena as a huge tuna fish can. The Spectrum’s president Hal Freeman portrayed it differently:
“We’re not beautiful, we’re functional.
“The Spectrum was built to give the people of Philadelphia the widest range and highest quality of sports and entertainment events possible in the most comfortable and convenient surroundings. We want to give Philadelphians a spectacular spectacle in South Philadelphia. That’s how we arrived at the name Spectrum.”
The building was constructed by Philadelphia Eagles owner Jerry Woman. He turned the arena over to the city, but not before taking out a 50-year lease. The city does own the land upon which the Spectrum stands. Wolman was an original owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, but since has sold his stake in the team to partner Ed Snider.
The rink was supposed to open this past Thursday with a National Hockey League exhibition game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. That game had to be canceled because of a labour dispute which prevented the installation of the hockey rink boards. The boards will be in place for the Flyers opening home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 19.
Instead of a hockey game, the first event held this weekend was a jazz festival. Other events scheduled for the building include the Moscow State Circus, the United States figure skating championships, and a heavyweight boxing match between undefeated Joe Frazier and Tony Doyle.
Van Gerbig Likes Eagleson?
California Seals owner Barry Van Gerbig thinks that the representations lawyer Alan Eagleson is giving NHL players is not a bad thing. The 27-year-old believes Eagleson can serve a useful purpose:
“What I would be interested in doing is sitting down with Alan and letting him know what it costs to run an expansion team and what we expect to use for the next three or four years.
“We could give him a budget and a check and tell him to go out and sign the players. We would tell him this amount is what we can afford to live with. Then you’ll see how fast things would work out.
“I don’t believe there is anything to be gained by working around him.”
Van Gerbig is ready to work with Eagleson despite the fact that he doesn’t agree with a lot of the advice he’s been giving the players. He thinks Eagleson’s role as a negotiator must be clarified before next season.
Meanwhile other NHL teams find Eagleson to be an aggravating factor. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jack Riley and coach Red Sullivan were extremely upset that some of their players were meeting with Eagleson without team knowledge or permission.
- Bob Pulford has stepped down as president of the National Hockey League players association. Former Maple Leaf team-mate Bob Baun, now of the California Seals, is his replacement. Pulford wouldn’t give a reason, stating it was only for his own good and the good of the association.
- Former Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers goalkeeper Jacques Plante has left the California Seals training camp and returned home to Montreal. No reason has been given officially for Plante’s departure, but it is thought that the Seals were unable to arrange suitable compensation for Plante’s services with the Rangers, who still hold Plante’s playing rights.
- Players who ended lengthy holdouts include Toronto’s Frank Mahovlich and Tim Horton, Penguins Earl Ingarfield and Al MacNeil, and Philadelphia’s Ed Van Impe.
- Minnesota North Stars general manager Wren Blair says that fans have to be patient in the new NHL cities. He feels the expansion clubs will be on a par with the established team within five years.
- The Boston Bruins still haven’t figured out who their number one goaltender will be. Coach Harry Sinden’s original plan was to keep one of Gerry Cheevers or Ed Johnston as the main goalkeeper and send the other man to the Bruins Oklahoma City Central League farm team where he would play regularly and keep sharp. Both goalies have played so well in training camp that neither deserved a demotion, so Sinden will likely keep both men in the NHL.
- Could Leafs goalie Johnny Bower have a future as a coach? He was behind the Toronto bench in a 4-3 Maple Leaf exhibition victory over the New York Rangers.
- St. Louis Blues had planned to have both Lynn Patrick and assistant Scotty Bowman behind the bench this year. But that innovation isn’t likely to see the light of day once the season opens. A confusing exhibition game tie with the Los Angeles Kings prompted Patrick to reassign Bowman to the press box for subsequent games.
- Rochester Americans traded veteran forward Gerry Ehman to the California Seals in exchange for forwards Jean-Paul Parise and . Ehman became property of the Americans when the team was purchased from the Toronto Maple Leafs a year ago. That transaction gave the new owners the rights to 18 professional hockey players, one of which was Ehman. That means that Parise and Hextall are Rochester property, but can be recalled by the parent Toronto Maple Leafs on an emergency basis.