With the National Hockey League season set to begin tomorrow evening, today we look at the final preseason results, some last-minute roster moves, and a Los Angeles Kings player lambasting management for a lack of support for their players.
Leafs Tops in East, Down Aces
The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their preseason schedule last night on a winning note with a 4-2 win over the American Hockey League Quebec Aces. The win left Toronto with a 11-3-1 record, best in the NHL’s Eastern Division.
Toronto coach Punch Imlach may have learned something in this game. He removed young centre Mike Walton from the third line and replaced him with veteran Murray Oliver. Oliver is the pivot Toronto acquired during the offseason from Boston in exchange for Eddie Shack.
With Oliver lining up between wingers Bob Pulford and Ron Ellis, the threesome produced three goals, two by Pulford and one by Ellis. Oliver assisted on all three. Jim Pappin had the other Leaf goal.
Quebec scorers were Claude Laforge and Andre Lacroix.
Bruce Gamble handled the first 40 minutes in goal for Toronto, with Johnny Bower taking over in the final frame. Each gave up a goal. Fern Rivard and Claude Cyr split the goalkeeping for the Aces.
The Leafs finished the preseason first in the East, but also played at least three games more than anyone else. Detroit, in only seven games, was 5-1-1.
Pittsburgh was the Western Division’s best, going 8-1-1. St. Louis played just six preseason games, with a 3-1-2 record.
Flyers Pick Three Captains
Philadelphia Flyers did as they had hinted they would and named three players to wear the “A” this year instead of just one captain. Named to be the on-ice leaders for the fledgling franchise are Lou Angotti, Ed Van Impe and Bill Sutherland. Sutherland, coincidentally, just signed his 1967-68 contract yesterday as well.
Flyers general manager Bud Poile says that the triumvirate won’t last long.
“Keith (coach Allen) will select one of them to be our official captain in the next three days. The other two will be assistants and will take charge when the captain is off the ice.”
Flyers also announced the signing of two more forwards. Wingers Pat Hannigan and Don Blackburn both signed one-year deals. That leaves Philadelphia with three remaining players yet to be under contract – forwards Leon Rochefort and Wayne Hicks, along with defenceman Jim Morrison.
Flyers president William Putnam thinks a deal will get done with Rochefort sooner rather than later:
“Rochefort claims he’s our best player and he’s probably right. He’s been tough to sign but we aren’t that far apart now.”
Labossiere Blasts Kings for “Abandoning” Players
Gordon Labossiere, the first choice of the Los Angeles Kings in the skater portion of the NHL Expansion Draft is not happy with team management. And he isn’t shy about who knows it.
“This club is just great. It just abandons you.
“They’ve done nothing for us to help us get settled. Instead of being here for the last six weeks and getting settled, we’re here for a week before our first game.
“We won’t have an advantage over the other teams coming here because we haven’t been here long enough ourselves. We should have trained here.”
Kings general manager Larry Regan brushed off Labossiere’s complaints:
“That’s just a pro hockey player talking. They’ve all got help. We only arrived yesterday (Sunday). We have cars for the players to use while they look for housing and we’ve tried to give them an idea where to look.
“It’s just coming to a strange city, that’s all.”
Other Kings players expressed concerns about the move to Los Angeles but none went on the record. Some complained about fatigue from the cross-country trip to their home city.
Coach Red Kelly expressed no concern with Labossiere’s comments and hinted that if he were playing better his tone might have been different:
“Labossiere hasn’t had a good camp. He’s a slow starter.”
With a fairly healthy lineup to start the year it remains to be seen if fatigue will play a role in the Kings fortunes this season. It all starts this week.
- Montreal Canadiens have sent defenceman Bryan Watson to Houston of the CPHL. Watson was acquired from the Minnesota North Stars at the NHL Expansion Draft this summer. He was part of an agreement that allowed Montreal to retain forward Claude Larose.
- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Red Sullivan says the he will start veteran Hank Bassen in goal in tomorrow’s inaugural game against Montreal Canadiens.
- Penguins also announced that the team’s first captain will be veteran forward Ab McDonald.
- Louis Blues goalie Glenn Hall is still sidelined with a hand injury. That means that Seth Martin, a 34-year-old rookie will be the starting netminder in the Blues first game against the Minnesota North Stars.
- Seals coach Bert Olmstead still hasn’t decided who his starting goalkeeper will be when California opens the NHL season at home this week against the Philadelphia Flyers. He will choose between 6-4 string bean Gary Smith and 5-9 veteran Charley Hodge. Hodge missed most of training camp as a holdout and may not yet be in shape.
- New York Rangers have sent winger Larry Mickey to Buffalo of the AHL. Mickey is still feeling the effects of the serious injuries he suffered in an auto accident last spring. Mickey’s wife was fatally injured in the same collision.
- Detroit Red Wings have signed a three-year, $500,000 radio-television contract with the Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit. All 74 games will be carried on radio on station WJR. Thirty-three contests will be televised. Thirty-one road games will be shown on WKBD-TV, sponsored by Stroh’s, while two will be on WJBK as part of the CBS network package. (and yet Eddie Shack can’t participate in a Carlings ad…)
- Minnesota North Stars still haven’t decided on a starting goalie. Cesare Maniago, Carl Wetzel and Gary Bauman are all still in camp with the season about to begin.