Today’s report covers some National Hockey League injury updates, some more details on the incident involving a fan in Los Angeles Sunday night, and an interesting report on some possible expansion possibilities for the NHL. Plus the usual Quick Hits.
More NHL Expansion?
Following statements by Toronto Maple Leafs president Stafford Smythe and NHL prexy Clarence Campbell last week, the Buffalo Courier Express says that the next round of NHL expansion could include six more cities and the addition of a third division. Such growth could give the NHL more teams than the National Football League.
Buffalo and Vancouver would be the leading candidates to join the league.
The Courier-Express says that the third division might consist of teams in Buffalo, Vancouver, San Diego, Portland, Baltimore and Seattle.
Wren Blair, general manager-coach of the Minnesota North Stars believes that plan is viable:
“Vancouver, Seattle and the other four cities are drawing well in the minors. There’s no reason why they can’t do it in the NHL.”
Critics of further NHL expansion complain that the six new teams in the league this year are vastly inferior to the established teams. However, just this past weekend, the vaunted Montreal Canadiens lost games to both Los Angeles and Oakland.
League officials have said that they are targeting 1971 as a time when the new teams will gain parity with the older ones.
Blair doesn’t believe stocking six more teams with players will present any significant problem:
“American kids are as good at age 15 as any hockey players in Canada. But the training here after 15 is poor and that’s why the American boys have trouble becoming pro hockey players.”
Blair criticized the U.S. college and high school hockey system, which forces boys to play under rules that inhibit physical play. Blair says this system effectively limits a young man’s chances at winning a job in professional hockey, especially at the major league level:
“A boy in Communist Russia had a better chance of making it as a big-league hockey player than a boy in this country.”
Blair believes that NHL expansion should have happened long before 1967:
“If anything, expansion was long overdue. And the results of the games so far indicate it should have happened some time ago. There are players in the minor leagues who are capable of better things.”
Pilous Sues Seals
Former general manager-coach of the Oakland Seals, Rudy Pilous, has filed a law suit against his former team for breach of contract. Pilous is seeking damages of $105,000.
Pilous alleges that he signed a four-year contract with the then California Seals on May 18, 1966. The contract was terminated on June 16, 1967 when the Seals replaced Pilous as manager-coach with Bert Olmstead.
Pilous says the contract provided for a salary of 25,000 a year as coach, plus another $10,000 for general manager duties. There was also a $10,000 bonus if the team finished ahead of three other Western Division teams.
The contract was signed when the Seals were members of the Western Hockey League, but at that time, the NHL franchise had been granted to the team’s owners. Pilous says the four-year pact stated that he would remain as general manager-coach when the team entered the NHL for the 1967-68 season.
Pilous says that since his dismissal, he has not been able to find a job with another hockey club that provides comparable compensation.
Those named in the suit include California Seals Inc., Shasta Telecasting Corporation, San Francisco Hockey Company Inc., San Francisco Seals Ltd., Sports Investors, Barend Van Gerbig, California Seals Hockey Club and George C. Fleharty.
Mahovlich Skates at Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leafs superstar Frank Mahovlich was ferreted in and out of Maple Leafs Gardens yesterday shrouded in secrecy. The Big M participated in a very private skating session, witnessed only by his wife Marie, his nurse and a few painters doing some sprucing up in the building.
Injured defenceman Allan Stanley also participated. Stanley is recovering from a gruesome eye injury he sustained over a week ago in Minnesota. It will likely be the weekend before he’s ready to play again.
Mahovlich skated for about 45 minutes and also fired a few of those patented slap shots he unleashes when streaking down the wing. After the workout, he returned to the hospital but sources say he will likely skate at the Gardens again tomorrow.
Dr. Hugh Smythe said “There is hope that Frank will be skating with the Leafs next week.” There is no timetable for his return to the lineup.
Meanwhile, Stanley talked about his progress. The 41-year-old rearguard was forced to lie on his back with his eyes bandaged for five day after taking a deflected shot on the left eyebrow. It took 25 stitches to close the wound.
“The eye specialist warned me if I got up and around, the bleeding could start all over again, but it would be much worse this time. That was all the news I needed to stay on my back.”
The bandages were removed Thursday and he returned to Toronto Friday.
Cops Questioned Blake
Members of the Los Angeles Police Department interviewed Montreal Canadiens coach Toe Blake Sunday evening after the Habs lost their game.to the Los Angeles Kings. The police were investigating an incident where a fan was injured during an altercation with Blake and several Montreal players.
No one was arrested or charged as a result of the incident and subsequent interview. The fan in question has been identified as Bernard Wiseman. He was treated for head injuries at a nearby clinic before being transferred to hospital for further examination.
The incident was sparked by an on-ice altercation between Montreal’s Serge Savard and the Kings’ Gord Labossiere. Wiseman allegedly came down from his fifth row seat and began shouting at Blake and the rest of the Canadiens.
Toe Blake gives his side of the story:
“He had been yelling at me all night but I didn’t mind that as long as he stayed in his seat. He came down to the bench and knocked my hat off. Then I don’t know exactly what happened. Before I knew it my players were swinging their sticks and he was going up the stairs with blood in his hand.
“These incidents wouldn’t happen if the benches were glassed in. We had to do in New York and Boston for this very same reason.”
There are unconfirmed reports that a woman near the incident also sustained undetermined injuries. Apparently a lawsuit is being considered by the fan, but nothing yet has been confirmed.
NHL president Clarence Campbell has not yet commented on the incident.
- Toronto Maple Leafs may have to send defenceman Larry Hillman back to the American Hockey League Rochester Americans. Hillman was recalled as an emergency replacement for Allan Stanley before his required 14-day stay in the AHL had been completed. Hillman came up after only 13 days.
- A summer yearling Hereford heifer owned by Chicago star Bobby Hull finished second in judging at the International Live Stock exposition in Chicago.
- Jack Chevalier of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the 7-5-4 record of the Philadelphia Flyers is mainly due to the fine work of their defence corps: Ed Van Impe, John Miszuk, Joe Watson, Jean Gauthier, Larry Zeidel and John Hanna.
- The Red Wings have now gone five games without a loss. Detroit Free Press hockey writer Jack Berry says 30-year-old rookie goalie Roy Edwards is the man mostly responsible for the hot streak.
- Louis Blues assistant general manager-coach Scotty Bowman says he believes his club got a big lift from the bench-clearing brawl at the end of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Bowman: “We lost the game but cleaned up in the fight.”
- Blues goalie Glenn Hall, talking about goalkeepers in an interview with Philadelphia Inquirer’s Frank Dolson: “We’re all mental cases, except Gump (Worsley). He doesn’t worry that much. He possibly has the best attitude towards the game.”
- Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenceman Bill Speer from Baltimore of the AHL. Speer is another case of a player having to go back to the AHL because he was called up before the required 14 days.
- Penguins coach Red Sullivan says that 35-year-old Ken Schinkel is the best right winger in the Western Division right now.
- Minnesota North Stars have announced that all seats have been sold for this Saturday’s game in Minneapolis against the Chicago Black Hawks. Standing room tickets will go on sale on Saturday morning.
- Boston Bruins coach Harry Sinden says that his statistics tell him that the Bruins best defensive forwards are Ken Hodge and Tommy Williams.