A light news day today with a couple of noteworthy item, including a new coach for the St. Louis Blues, and of course the usual Quick Hits.
Blues Name Bowman Coach
The St. Louis Blues have named 34-year-old Scotty Bowman as head coach. He replaces Lynn Patrick, who had been serving in the dual capacity of coach and general manager. Patrick wants to devote all his time to his general manager duties. Bowman had been serving as Patrick’s assistant in both jobs.
Bowman turned to coaching early in life after an injury ended his playing career while he was still in junior hockey in the Montreal chain. He suffered a serious head injury in 1952 when he was checked by Jean-Guy Talbot, now with Detroit Red Wings. In recent years he has coached the Montreal Junior Canadiens and Houston Apollos of the Central Professional Hockey League in the Canadiens organization.
Patrick said the demands of the job of general manager dictated the move:
“We hired Scotty with the idea that he would become coach, if not this year, then next year.
“I will now have more time to keep in touch with our young players on our Kansas City team, keep up with scouting reports and, in general, build a successful hockey system.”
Bowman takes over the Blues as they languish in the basement of the National Hockey League’s Western Division with a 4-10-2 record. His first game, which takes place tonight, is against his former employers, the Montreal Canadiens.
North Stars Eye Olympians
Minnesota North Stars of the NHL’s Western Division will have a close eye on this year’s Winter Olympic Hockey Tournament, and in particular the Canadian national team. That’s because the Stars own the NHL rights to eight members of Canada’s team and have their eye on a ninth.
Minnesota general manager-coach Wren Blair thinks his club will be strengthened by most of these players once the Olympics are completed. He spoke with Toronto Star’s Milt Dunnell about the possibilities:
“I don’t think I did a good job of selling pro hockey to those guys last summer. My heart wasn’t in it. I felt they had obligations to the national team until after the Olympics. I know how much that means and I really didn’t put a lot of pressure on them. After the Olympics some of them certainly will turn pro. It’s possible that most of them will be interested.
“There’s no doubt in my mind we will get some help there. Barry MacKenzie is a top prospect for our defence. Gary Dineen has the ability. With him it’s a matter of application. He feels the need for a challenge. It’s in the NHL.
I have confidence in Danny O’Shea, Gary Begg, Terry O’Malley. O’Shea is only 22. The other fellows are in the 25-26 bracket. They should have good careers in professional hockey ahead of them.”
Other players on the national team who should go to the North Stars include Marshall Johnston, whom the Nats just moved back to defence, Paul Conlin, goalie Ken Broderick and left winger Ted Hargreaves. Toronto actually has the rights to Hargreaves but it’s believed Blair has an arrangement in place to bring him to Minnesota.
Blair is performing the dual role of manager-coach, something Lynn Patrick of the St. Louis Blues just found was too much to do. Blair says he needs to do both jobs to completely know his players:
“You really get to know your personnel at ice level. I want to know what we can expect from every man we acquired in expansion. Coaching is the best way to find out.”
Blair figures he made four mistakes in the Expansion Draft last summer, but he wouldn’t name names. But the fact he traded one of those draft choices (Jean-Guy Talbot) early in the season provides a clue as to what he’s looking for from his players.
“We were loaded with left-handed defence players. . Talbot actually provided our club with leadership. I got a man (Bob McCord) who is three years younger and shoots right.”
Dunnell asked Blair to engage in a bit of prognostication regarding the rest of the NHL season. Here’s how he sees events unfolding the rest of the way:
- Los Angeles and Philadelphia will widen their leads on the other four Western Division teams. They have greater depth and experience because of their summer purchases of American Hockey League teams in Quebec City and Springfield.
- It will become more difficult for the expansion teams to beat the established clubs. Injuries will commence taking their toll. The six old clubs will be better able to fill the gaps in rosters caused by injuries.
- One of these nights a game will be cancelled. The schedule is so tight that some team or teams will be in an airport at faceoff time. It almost happened to the North Stars last weekend. Their flight was delayed. They arrived at New York in time to check into their hotel and grab cabs to Madison Square Garden.
NHL referee-in-chief Scotty Morrison ran into former Leaf great Teeder Kennedy at Maple Leaf Gardens this week. He reminded the man generally recognized as Toronto’s greatest captain of the influence he had on his refereeing career:
“I just got through telling a group of OHA referees something which you told me years ago. The night I handled my first NHL game I called a penalty and you asked me why I had called it. Stupidly, I admitted it was because I thought it was the way Bill Chadwick (one of the all-time great officials) woyuld have called it. You got real hot and told me to forget about Chadwick – make my own decisions. That’s what I told the OHA referees today – make their own decisions.”
- Toronto Maple Leafs general manager-coach Punch Imlach is worried that the leg injury bothering Dave Keon will keep him out of the lineup longer than expected.
- Leafs defenceman Allan Stanley has informed Imlach that he will be ready to play this Saturday. Stanley has recovered amazingly well from that serious eye injury he sustained in Minnesota.
- Oakland Seals forward Bill Hicke has entered hospital with a slight case of pneumonia. He’s expected to be out for about a week.
- Los Angeles Kings will be without defenceman Jacques Lemieux for about a month with a broken left wrist. Kings have called up defenceman Brent Hughes from their AHL Springfield farm club.
- Detroit Red Wings have returned Jimmy Peters Jr. to their Fort Worth CPHL farm team.
- Pittsburgh Penguins centre Earl Ingarfield has begun skating. Ingarfield, Pittsburgh’s first choice in the Expansion Draft, has been out since October 18 with a knee injury. He isn’t expected back for another three weeks.
- Tim McCormack of the Syracuse Blazers of the Eastern Hockey League has been fined $75 by league president Tom Lockhart for striking referee Bill Pringle during last Friday’s game against New Haven.
- Quebec City has applied to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to host one of the sections of the 1970 World Hockey Tournament. Canada is hosting the tournament in 1970.
- Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Niagara Falls Flyers fell behind 2-0 before storming back to defeat Montreal Junior Canadiens 5-2 in Niagara Falls. Only 2100 fans took in the game in Niagara Falls, the season’s smallest crowd. Steve Atkinson scored the winning goal for the Flyers, with other goals coming from Ricky Ley, Phil Roberto, Doug Brindley and Charlie Charlong.
- Oshawa Generals came from behind to edge the St. Catharines Black Hawks 5-4 in another OHA game. Bobby Walton had two goals for Oshawa, with singles coming from Fred O’Donnell, Ron Dussiaume and Gerry Welch. Hawks goals were scored by Moe L’Abbe, Skeeter Teal, Gerry Korab and John Fisher.
- Kitchener Rangers hammered the London Nationals 9-3. Jim Krulicki scored three goals to lead the Kitchener attack, with Jack Egers and Lee Inglis each adding a pair.