After a whirlwind week-long trip to Florida, we are back and ready to report on the rest of the 1967-68 hockey season. Today we’ll recap the highlights of the past week and especially this weekend’s games, where the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first expansion club to defeat one of the National Hockey League’s “old” teams.
Penguins Shock Hawks
The Pittsburgh Penguins made history Saturday night at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. The Penguins became the first expansion team to defeat one of the NHL’s established teams when they upset the Chicago Black Hawks 4-2 before 9274 fans who could scarcely believe their eyes.
It was a unique night on many fronts. The scoring star for the Penguins was veteran right winger Ken Schinkel. Schinkel somehow found the time to score three goals, while also performing his main duty – defending against Chicago superstar Bobby Hull. Hull did manage to score once for the Black Hawks, but was generally neutralized by the 36-year-old Saskatchewan native.
Early on, it looked like the Hawks might rout the visitors. Eric Nesterenko notched the first goal of the game at 2:48 of the first when he scored a short-handed goal with Chicago defenceman Gilles Marotte in the penalty box. But Schinkel’s first of the night about three and a half minutes later evened things up, as he tapped in a nice Billy Dea setup in the goal mouth.
Schinkel gave the Pens a 2-1 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the middle stanza when he combined with linemates Art Stratton and Dea. That lead was short-lived as Hull found the range from just in front, thanks to a pass from Kenny Wharram.
The Hawks had a glorious opportunity to take the lead at 3:19 of the third when Wharram was sent in alone on Pittsburgh goalie Les Binkley. But Binkley was equal to the occasion and made a tremendous save. That stop seemed to spur the Pittsburgh club, while completely taking the wind out of Chicago’s sails.
Schinkel completed his hat trick at 7:45, once again set up by Stratton, his third helper of the night. Gene Ubriaco gave the Penguins some insurance with less than five minutes left to make the final score 4-2.
Schinkel was modest about his two-way performance, refusing to gloat over besting Bobby Hull:
“He just wasn’t at his game, that’s all. He’s got enough against me.”
Pittsburgh coach Red Sullivan felt the turning point in the game was Binkley’s save on Wharram in the third:
“The whole thing changed after that.”
Espo Scores Four
A week ago last night the Boston Bruins served notice to the rest of the NHL that they have no intention of furthering their reputation as the league doormats. And they did it in emphatic fashion, pounding the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 at the Boston Garden.
Former Chicago Black Hawk Phil Esposito was dominant, scoring four times on Canadiens young goalkeeper Rogatien Vachon. Esposito appears to be coming into his own in Boston. He was almost unstoppable in the Montreal zone early in the game, firing three of his goals in the first period.
Also notable on the night was a four-assist performance by young Fred Stanfield, who accompanied Esposito to Boston in the big off-season trade with Chicago. Other Boston goals in the game were scored by Johnny McKenzie and rookie Glen Sather.
Esposito was thrilled at scoring three or more goals for the first time in the NHL:
“It’s the first time in my four years in the National Hockey League that I have scored a hat trick, never mind four goals.
“But I don’t care how many goals I score. The thing that really counts is that the team won the hockey game.”
Esposito was in shock when Chicago sent him packing last May in a deal that saw him, Stanfield and Kenny Hodge dealt to the Bruins for Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and goalie Jack Norris. Martin, by the way, is the last Bruin before Esposito to score four times in a game.
“Espo” reflected on how he felt about being traded:
“I finished seventh in the league in scoring and we won the championship. I felt I was the backup centre to Stan Mikita and figured I belonged on the team.
“Then I started to think, this is the best break I could get. I’m on the ice more with Boston. If I score well and I become a star in the long run this could mean more money for me. I am a hockey player who didn’t go to college like football players and basketball players. I’m a professional and this is the way I make my living.
“Chicago has several stars like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote. When they get finished paying the stars there isn’t much money to go around. So in many ways it is to my advantage to be with the Bruins.
“Here in Boston I’ve been told to carry the puck more and hold it until I see an opening. I’ll shoot the puck but if there is a man open I’ll give him a pass. It depends on the situation.”
About his four-goal performance Esposito said it was his best scoring output in any game, but commented that he didn’t think it was the best game he had ever played.
Expansion Crowds Disappointing
After the first week of National Hockey League games in expansion cities, attendance figures have been disappointing, at best. Eight games have been played in the new cities, two each in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Oakland and Long Beach, with crowds averaging only 6,788 per game.
St. Louis drew a fine gathering of 11,339 for their home opener, but that fell off to only 5,126 for their second game. The two teams in California had underwhelming attendance for their games this past weekend. The Seals drew only 4,155 Saturday night against Minnesota, while the Los Angeles Kings sold only 4,289 tickets for their Sunday night contest against those same North Stars.
One of the problems facing the Kings is that they are playing their home games in Long Beach at the 17,000-seat Sports Arena. That rink is 50 miles from central Los Angeles. The Kings will move into their new arena, The Forum in Inglewood, sometime around the end of this year.
Publicity director Tim Ryan of the Seals didn’t sugarcoat how the Seals management felt about their poor attendance through two games:
“We were disappointed and we don’t think we’ll do much better Wednesday when we play Los Angeles. But then we go on the road for six games and I think if we have a good record we’ll do well when we return. We have three of the old teams coming in.”
Ryan said they felt they would get around 10,000 for their opener, but less than 7,000 fans showed up. He pointed out that the National Basketball Association’s San Francisco Warriors had only 5,600 on hand for their opener at the Cow Palace. Warriors are their division’s defending champs.
Toronto Maple Leafs president Stafford Smythe is one of the established team executives who isn’t worried about attendance out west:
“I’ll start worrying when a team, say California, wins six or seven games and is on top but isn’t drawing.”
Red Wings, North Stars Swap Four
The Detroit Red Wings acquired former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jean-Guy Talbot from the Minnesota North Stars in a four-player trade on Thursday.
The Red Wings sent defenceman Bob McCord and forward Duke Harris to Minnesota in exchange for Talbot and forward Dave Richardson.
Talbot was a high draft choice by Minnesota in last summer’s Expansion Draft and the fact that the North Stars traded him is a bit of a surprise. Minnesota general manager Wren Blair said he was looking to upgrade his team’s overall toughness, and the truculent McCord certainly fills that requirement.
Blair also said that Harris was a vital cog in the exchange, citing his club’s weakness on the right side. Harris netted 27 goals for the American Hockey League Pittsburgh Hornets last season.
Black Hawks Lose to Kings
Chicago Black Hawks lost to an expansion team for the second consecutive night last night as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Los Angeles Kings right in Chicago Stadium. It was the Black Hawks’ sixth straight loss to begin the season.
The Kings won this one when they beat Chicago goaltender Denis DeJordy for four goals in the second period. It was an ugly evening, and by the third period the normally rabid Chicago faithful were unmercifully booing their supposed home town heroes.
National Hockey League president Clarence Campbell was on hand for the game and even he was cheering for the upstart Kings.
The Hawks once again blew an early lead. Goals by Pit Martin and Wayne Maki put Chicago again 2-0 in the first period. But the Kings outskated, out-muscled and out-hustled the home side the rest of the way. With Terry Sawchuk providing steady netminding, the Kings were full value for the road win.
Bill Flett, Brian Kilrea, Lowell MacDonald, Brian Smith and Ted Irvine did the scoring damage for Los Angeles. Bobby Hull had the other Chicago goal, his sixth in six games.
The Kings are now the NHL’s only undefeated team. Not many would have seen that coming.
- Chicago goalie Denis DeJordy finally signed his contract on October 15.
- Two NHL veterans found themselves in the minors this week. Rangers sent Camille Henry to Buffalo of the AHL, while Minnesota North Stars dispatched Parker MacDonald to Memphis of the CPHL.
- Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Emile (Butch) Bouchard received minor injuries in an auto accident near Ottawa in which a Montreal medical student was killed. Earlier reports had Bouchard also fatally injured.
- California Seals utility man Gerry Odrowski has signed his 1967-68 contract.
- Boston Bruins traded forward Rosaire Paiement to the Philadelphia Flyers for two players to be named later.
- Veteran left winger Ron Murphy of the Boston Bruins has a torn left bicep. He will likely require surgery.
- Bruins rookie forward Glen Sather has completed two and a half years of college. He is nearing a degree in child psychology.
- Doug Favell was spectacular in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers as they won their first game of the year, 2-1 over the Blues in St. Louis on Wednesday night.
- Andy Bathgate scored all three goals for the Penguins as they tied Minnesota 3-3 Wednesday night.
- Andy Hebenton’s consecutive games played streak of 1,062 professional games came to an end Wednesday evening. He missed the Portland Buckaroos game to attend his father’s funeral.
- Thursday evening the Flyers won the first-ever NHL game at the Spectrum, 1-0 over Pittsburgh. Doug Favell was very good in goal again, but only 7,812 fans showed up for the game.
- On Friday the Philadelphia Flyers purchased defenceman Larry Zeidel from the Cleveland Barons.
- United States Senator Robert Kennedy visited the New York Rangers dressing room after their game Saturday night at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
- Rookie defenceman Serge Savard scored his first NHL goal in Montreal’s 4-2 win over Boston in Montreal Saturday evening.