Today we have a Johnny Bower interview, some signings and training camp injuries, and the return of a budding superstar.
After allowing a soft goal in New York on Sunday night, some observers are wondering whether Father Time has finally caught up with Toronto Maple Leafs goalkeeper Johnny Bower. That notion was quickly put to rest by Bower in yesterday’s brisk workout at the Leafs training camp in Peterborough. He was as sharp as ever during the 90-minute practice.
After the session, Bower sat down with Red Burnett of the Toronto Star and left no doubt he feels he’s ready for another successful season. He talked about the Sunday’s game, yesterday’s workouts and how he’s setting himself up for the impending National Hockey League season.
“I really enjoyed those workouts, I’m getting my timing. I was really sharp out there.
“It’s funny, in New York I was just a little off and that’s how Goyette got that shot through. I was going with him as he crossed over for his backhand and was just a little slow getting that leg back in place.
“You won’t believe it but you can get lost in that goal crease.”
The man they call the China Wall says a goalie knows when he’s lost in the crease and why it happens.
“So help me, when a goalie goes bad you can blame three things – he’s either not standing up, cutting off the angles properly, or his timing is away off. In other words, he gets lost in the goal crease.
“Punch has been very lenient on me this training camp and I’ve been working myself into shape gradually. I want to be razor-sharp for the league opener. That’s the first one that really counts.”
Leafs open their regular season on October 14 at home against the Chicago Black Hawks.
Still Considering Mask
Bower had said earlier that he would be using a face mask this year, but lately he hasn’t worn the facial protection. That doesn’t mean he’s discarded it. It’s just been a case of it being too warm in the arenas this time of year. Johnny does feel it will help his play.
“One thing it has given me is renewed confidence. Last season I found myself pulling up out of the crouch when Frank Mahovlich came barreling in off the left wing in practice.
“This year I’m staying in the crouch, challenging him to beat me. And that’s the way it’s got to be. You have to challenge anyone who skates in on your goal; decide you’re the best.
“Of course, I must add Frank is more accurate this year. He’s finding the corners. Most of his shots rise and he’ll be more effective if he keeps them down on those corners. But I think he’s going to have a big year.
“It helps when your own guys don’t fire them around your ears. Eddie Shack used to get them up high most of the time.
“I hope to play at least 45 games for Punch this year. If I can stay away from injuries that should be no trick because I’m not that old.”
- Maple Leafs have signed holdout forward Brian Conacher to a two-year contract. Conacher will received $20,000 per year over the course of the deal.
- Toronto also offered young centre Walter McKechnie a professional contract. McKechnie wasn’t happy with the money Leafs offered, so he has opted to return to junior hockey with the London Nationals.
- Pittsburgh Penguins have signed speedy forward Bob Dillabough to a one-year deal. Dillabough has been bothered by a knee injury and hasn’t seen any exhibition game action yet.
- Penguins also sent forward Bobby Rivard and defenceman Ted Lanyon to their American Hockey League farm club at Baltimore.
- Louis Blues goalie Glenn Hall has been hospitalized with an infected left hand. A tetanus shot to counter-act blood poisoning produced a bad reaction.
- Veteran defenceman Doug Harvey remains in hospital with both eyes heavily bandaged after being struck with a puck on the weekend. Harvey had been slated to be the player-coach at the Blues Kansas City farm team. However, his play at training camp has earned him consideration for a berth with the NHL squad.
- Bobby Orr will play his first exhibition game this year tomorrow night when the Bruins host the New York Rangers. Left winger Ron Murphy will also see his first action with Boston.
- Bruins are very happy with the play of 20-year-old rookie Ross Lonsberry. He has worked very well on a line with Fred Stanfield and Johnny McKenzie.