With no games in the National Hockey League last night, today we take our usual look at the standings and scoring race. Also, a couple of former Maple Leafs receive Stanley Cup rings.
Kings NHL’s Only Undefeated Team
It’s doubtful anyone saw this coming after the first week and a half of the National Hockey League season. Sitting atop the Western Division are the Los Angeles Kings, who now sport the league’s only undefeated record. Los Angeles now has three wins and two ties in five games played and they lead the second-place Philadelphia Flyers by two points.
The Eastern Division standings also have a most unusual look this morning. While it’s no surprise to have the Montreal Canadiens leading the pack, it’s downright disconcerting to see the Chicago Black Hawks, last year’s regular season champions, resting at the bottom of the pile with six losses in as many games.
It’s also strange to see the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers tied with the Detroit Red Wings for second place, all with seven points, two in arrears of Montreal. And last spring’s Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs have an unimpressive two wins and three losses.
The Black Hawks woes can be blamed on a number of factors. Some key injuries have decimated the Chicago lineup. Forwards Stan Mikita, Doug Mohns, and Chico Maki, and defenceman Matt Ravlich have all been absent due to various ailments. Add to that the substandard performance of goalie Denis DeJordy, who was rushed into the breach as soon as he signed his contract. DeJordy was clearly not ready for action after missing the entire Chicago training camp as a holdout.
Many observers feel that the Black Hawks lost too much in that much ballyhooed off-season trade with Boston that brought defenceman Gilles Marotte and centre Pit Martin to Chicago. Hawks fans have to be upset seeing Fred Stanfield leading the NHL in scoring and Phil Esposito assuming the role of kingpin of the Boston attack.
Stanfield Leads Scoring Race
Stanfield’s league-leading total includes four goals and seven assists for 11 points in only five games. Linemate Johnny McKenzie and Yvan Cournoyer are tied for second with 10 points. Bobby Hull of Chicago and Billy Hicke of the California Seals are next with nine. Hull’s total includes six goals in six games.
Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues are tied for the top goaltending records. Blues and Canadiens each have a combined goals-against average of 2.17. Philadelphia Flyers are next at 2.40.
Kelly Gets a Ring
There was no ceremony, no fanfare, not even an official presentation. But Los Angeles Kings coach Red Kelly didn’t mind as he received the diamond ring presented to each of the members of the Toronto Maple Leafs team that won the Stanley Cup last spring.
The event took place as Kelly’s Kings were suiting up for practice yesterday morning at Maple Leaf Gardens. John Andersen, publicity man for the Maple Leafs paid a visit to the Gardens visitors dressing room and sought out Kelly. Amid the usual hustle, bustle and jocularity that is the atmosphere of professional hockey dressing rooms, Andersen presented the Kings coach with a blue jewelry box containing the bronze wing with a large diamond mounted upon it.
Ever on the alert for something to motivate his hockey club, Kelly looked at the ring for scarcely a few seconds and then handed it off to centre Brian Kilrea. The ring was reverently passed around the room so each player could get a good look at it.
Kelly did not hide the fact that he was very pleased to receive the ring. By allowing each player to examine it up close, he was able to demonstrate what an NHL player strives for. Since most Kings players had never played in hockey’s big league before this season, the moment was not lost upon them.
Also receiving a ring was Kings goalie Terry Sawchuk. Sawchuk, you will remember, performed goaltending miracles for Toronto in both playoff series.
Kelly spoke to Lou Cauz of the Toronto Globe and Mail about his early season coaching experience and his team’s surprisingly good start.
“Eighteen guys are going well for me” was his response when asked who his best players had been. He was also asked if he missed playing.
“No, I haven’t missed playing – not at all. Probably the hardest part for me in coaching is not playing everybody, not giving them all a shot.”
Kelly seems to truly like the group of men he’s formed into a formidable hockey club:
“The thing I like about them is they never give up. Two or three times we’ve been down a couple of goals and they’ve come back.”
- Leafs coach Punch Imlach says that Bruce Gamble may make his first start of the season Wednesday night against Los Angeles.
- Imlach says he has not discussed trading holdout defenceman Larry Hillman with any other NHL team, but he did remark that Hillman “no longer fits into our plans.”
- Leafs rookie centre Garry Unger, who injured a knee and had surgery just before training camp, is ready to play again. He will likely play a few games with the OHA Junior A London Nationals before being assigned to one of Toronto’s professional farm teams, likely the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Professional Hockey League.
- Maple Leaf Gardens will be open to the public this Friday from noon to 10 p.m., free of charge for the annual United Appeal Gardens Party. There will be free hot dogs and soft drinks for those wishing to see the Leafs dressing room, the Gardens hospital, television and radio studios, press room and ice-making machine.
- Steve Atkinson of Niagara Falls Flyers leads the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A scoring race with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points. That’s three ahead of Jim McCrae of the Kitchener Rangers.
- Detroit Red Wings farm director Jimmy Skinner says that the Wings’ lack of an American Hockey League farm team has kept several players at the Junior A level. Skinner says that Hamilton Red Wings Renald Leclerc, Danny Lawson, Fred Speck and Ed Hatoum would have been turned pro by Detroit had there been an AHL club with which the four could be placed.
- Los Angeles Kings top forward line so far this season has Brian Kilrea centring left wing Ted Irvine and right wing Lowell MacDonald.
- Eccentric Chicago Black Hawks forward Eric Nesterenko doesn’t seem to care what fans or writers in the Windy City think of him. He told Bill Gleason of the Chicago Daily News “Chicago hockey fans don’t know anything about hockey, and one of the reasons is that the hockey writers don’t know anything about hockey.”
- Roger Crozier has reclaimed the Red Wings’ number one goaltending slot after a brilliant performance in Detroit’s 1-0 win over St. Louis Blues the other night.
- Flyers acquisition of D Larry Zeidel from AHL Hershey could mean that veteran Jean Gauthier could end up in the minors. Coach Keith Allen is not happy with Gauthier’s play.
- Les Binkley appears to have won the Penguins number one netminding job. At the end of Sunday night’s game he had a contact lens knocked loose, but found it immediately afterward, resting on the goal line.
- Minnesota North Stars and holdout defenceman Pete Goegan are close to agreeing on a contract. Goegan will be fined somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2,000 for refusing to sign a contract before the beginning of the season.
- Bruins rookie forward Derek Sanderson has a new nickname – he’s called “Turk” by his team mates.