Yesterday was a quiet day in the National Hockey League allowing for a time to catch our breath after a busy opening night. We do have some junior hockey results, and a little news was made regarding signings and player movement.
Hamilton Hammers Kitchener
The Hamilton Red Wings, taking advantage of the cozy confines known as the Barton Street Barn, blasted the Kitchener Rangers 7-1 at the Forum in Hamilton. The game was one of three in the Ontario Hockey Association’s Junior A series last night.
In the other two matches, visiting St. Catharines downed Ottawa 5-1 while Peterborough got by Oshawa 3-2 at home.
The ancient Hamilton rink is a dingy place, smoke hanging in the air and steel pillars blocking your view of the ice. One can get claustrophobic with the low ceiling, especially when the place is jammed with rabid Hamilton hockey fans. It’s the kind of old barn where you pray no one yells “fire!” Visiting teams mostly don’t like coming to Hamilton, and the Red Wings like it that way.
Last night the Wings were far and away the superior team over a Kitchener club that is rated a contender in the OHA. After two successive losses, Red Wings coach Eddie Bush had his team flying right from the opening faceoff. Goalie Gerry Gray was sharp and defencemen Randy Manery and Rick Smith turned in strong games.
Eddie Hatoum and Rich Petit led the Hamilton attack with two goals apiece. Smith, Danny Lawson and Mike Flanagan also scored for the Wings. Jimmy Jones had a first-period goal for the Rangers.
At Hull, Quebec, St. Catharines took over sole possession of first place with the win over the 67s. Ottawa goalie Gary Doyle faced 59 Black Hawks shots and was spectacular in keeping the score a respectable 5-1.
Five players shared in the scoring for the visitors, with Dale Power, Glen Sherwood, Peter Mara, Skeeter Teal and Maurice L’Abbe each netting one. Pierre Jarry was the lone Ottawa marksman.
Trevor Conn was the star for the Petes in their win over Oshawa with a pair of goals. Joe Johnston had the other Peterborough score. Joe Robertson and Al Quintillan replied for the Generals.
Pulford Agrees to Leaf Pact
Veteran forward Bob Pulford has ended his holdout and agreed to a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. While general manager Punch Imlach wouldn’t comment on the news, it has been learned that Pulford will likely formally sign a deal today that will span at least two years.
Pulford has always preferred single-year contracts but the tumultuous negotiations this fall may have softened that stance. The 31-year-old centre-left winger refused to report to training camp and participate in workouts after contract talks stalled in early September.
Pulford is a close associate of Toronto lawyer Alan Eagleson, who was instrumental in the formation of the National Hockey League players association. Pulford was its first president. He recently stepped down from the position. It has been speculated that this was a conciliatory move by the player to help move contract talks along. Pulford won’t comment on that.
Details of the deal have not been disclosed but it’s believed he was asking for a $10,000 raise from last year’s stipend of $28,000.
Imlach’s only comment on the situation was short and sweet:
“Pulford will definitely dress for Saturday night’s game. That’s all I have to say.”
Players who are not under contract are not allowed to play in regular season games.
With Pulford’s deal apparently taken care of, attention now turns to unsigned defenceman Larry Hillman. The 30-year-old rearguard was a solid performer for Toronto during the 1967 playoffs and he believes he should receive a salary commensurate with that of a principle team member. Larry thinks he will ink a deal soon.
“I don’t think we’re far apart. That’s just what I think though. What’s far apart for him (Imlach)?”
McKechnie Turns Pro
In other Leafs news, the team announced the signing of London OHA Junior A centre Walt McKechnie to a professional contract.
McKechnie, 19, had originally declined a deal the offered to him during training camp and had returned to the London junior club. Yesterday he accepted the Leafs terms and was promptly place on a flight to Seattle. That’s where he will join the Leafs Western Hockey League Phoenix farm team.
The youngster was understandably nervous about his decision.
“My first time away from home and it has to be about 3,000 miles. I played six years of junior in my home town. This will be an entirely new experience for me.”
- Toronto also sent right winger Mike Byers to Rochester (AHL). Byers was the best rookie in Toronto’s camp and will no doubt see action in the NHL this season.
- Red Wings defenceman Gary Bergman will play this weekend. Bergman suffered a hairline fracture of the jaw and a bad lip laceration in Detroit’s first game against the Boston Bruins. He was struck by an accidental high stick from Boston’s Bobby Orr. Bergman will wear a mask designed to protect the injury Saturday night against Montreal.
- Canada’s national team edged Czechoslovakia 3-2 in a tournament in Grenoble, France. Brian Harper, Billy MacMillan and Danny O’Shea scored for the short-handed Canadians.
- Philadelphia Flyers right wing Gary Dornhoefer will be lost to the team for a week to 10 days. He sustained a severe ankle bruise during the Flyers first NHL game Wednesday night in Oakland.
- Flyers will also be missing defenceman Jimmy Morrison. He has a torn tendon in his ankle and he’ll also miss about 10 days of action. Morrison didn’t play against California.
- Minnesota defenceman Billy Plager had to be a little shocked when a fight broke out with just over four minutes left in the North Stars first game against St. Louis Blues. As the players paired off, Plager was dismayed to find his dancing partner was brother Bob. The two treated each other like any two opponents would. They wrestled a bit but full-scale hostilities were saved for another time.
- Minnesota North Stars coach Wren Blair says Cesare Maniago will start in goal Saturday night in Oakland against the California Seals.