Two National Hockey League games to talk about today, including one in which the Bruins Johnny Bucyk set yet another team record. As well, we’ll have some words from North Stars general manager-coach Wren Blair, some financial news on the Oakland Seals and the usual Quick Hits.
Another Record for ‘The Chief’
Johnny Bucyk, the fine left winger of the Boston Bruins, scored a pair of goals last night to lead his team to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers at Boston Garden. The two goals give Bucyk a career total of 577 points, one more than current Bruins general manager Milt Schmidt accumulated during his career. Bucyk thus becomes the Bruins all-time leading point-getter.
Bobby Orr scored the other Boston goal, his seventh of the season. Jean Ratelle was the Rangers marksman, also netting his seventh.
Bucyk scored in each of the first two periods, with Orr’s goal sandwiched in between. Ratelle found the range at 6:26 of the third, well after the issue had been decided.
Bucyk admitted the record was on his mind and he was happy to have passed the milestone:
“I just wanted to get two points somehow tonight. I got them and what do I need next? How far do I have to go for 250?”
The answer is five – Bucyk now sits at 245 career goals.
Bruins coach Harry Sinden felt his team may have been letting up when Ratelle scored:
“Thank goodness they scored that one. It woke us up again. There were a lot of good things about the game. We got superior work from our defensemen particularly Green and Eddie Johnston made some very big saves for us especially in the first period.”
The win for Boston was their 15th of the season. Last year, the Bruins managed only 17 wins in the entire 70-game schedule.
Habs and Wings Tie at Two’s
Jean Beliveau returned to the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup for the first time in five weeks and his presence gave his team a lift as they skated to a 2-2 tie with the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Beliveau showed no ill effects from the knee injury that kept him on the shelf for 14 games and even scored a goal to celebrate his return.
Rookie forward Mickey Redmond scored the Habs’ other goal. It was his third goal in his second NHL game.
Detroit got goals from veterans Alex Delvecchio and Floyd Smith. Smiths’ goal with four minutes left in the second period was the marker that brought the Red Wings back from a 2-1 deficit.
Both goalkeepers were outstanding. Roy Edwards made 25 saves for the Wings, while Canadiens Gump Worsley stopped 25 Detroit drives.
The game was a much more orderly affair than the debacle that was Sunday’s Montreal-Boston contest. But there was one incident that brought about a bit of a rarity.
Montreal’s John Ferguson and Gary Bergman of the Red Wings clashed in the first period and engaged in a short stick-swinging duel in which no damage was inflicted by either player. Referee Art Skov assessed a double-minor to Bergman for high-sticking and slashing. He hit Ferguson with the seldom-called triple minor, for high sticking, slashing and charging.
News Not Good for Seals
The National Hockey League’s owners and governors will meet today in New York City to discuss the plight of the Oakland Seals. The financially-strapped expansion franchise is said to be teetering on the brink of financial failure.
It appears that the Seals are simply out of money. Attendance that is far below expectations and a poor product on the ice has contributed to the overall lack of revenue.
NHL president Clarence Campbell described the situation as “a lack of liquid working capital – a situation that confronts many corporations.”
You’ll notice he didn’t use the adjective successful to describe those corporations.
Campbell went on to say, “Certainly it is evident the owners of the Seals under-estimated their needs. However there is no reason to expect the club will not continue to operate or that the franchise will be transferred.”
For the Seals first 11 home games attendance has averaged about 4,400. Their game against Philadelphia the other night drew only 2,400.
It is expected that the governors will discuss a plan for the league to take over the struggling franchise. League officials would not comment on what a takeover would look like, who would administer the team or what would happened to the current Oakland management.
Motivation Tough For NHL Coaches
It’s been a familiar refrain from most NHL coaches in both divisions. Their teams have little trouble “getting up” for games against the established teams, but seem to be a little flat when playing the new NHL kids on the block.
Red Burnett of the Toronto Star asked Minnesota North Stars general manager-coach Wren Blair whether this sort of thing was a problem in the expansion division. Blair, never shy to talk hockey, was happy to impart some of his wisdom to the readers of the The Star:
“When it’s Leafs, Chicago, Canadiens – any of the original teams – I have no problems. These guys of mine want to prove they belong in the NHL on merit and give it everything they’ve got.
“But when it’s St. Louis or Oakland I use a million words and die a thousand deaths trying to get them mentally up for what are really our most important games.
“I regard every game I play against teams in our own section as four-pointers. The ones against original teams are bonus deals. You hope for a win, are glad of a tie and satisfied in defeat if the guys turn in a credible effort.
“Harry Sinden (Bruins young coach) has the same problem when his team plays our club, but against the old teams he’s got a built-in deal.
“His guys were picked to finish last and like the expansion clubs, are just itching to blast the other five teams in their own section.
“I root for Harry every game – except when we’re on the other end of the ice. He’s a class guy and my one regret is expansion didn’t happen soon enough for me to bring him to Minnesota.
“I always felt Sinden could have played defence for Boston. When I was running Kingston in the Eastern Professional Hockey League and scouting for Bruins, I tried to talk Lynn Patrick (then the Boston general manager) into giving him a trial.
“One night we argued until about 4 a.m. and Lynn told me he’d fire me if I didn’t stop harping about that guy Sinden. Told me I had Harry on the brain.
“I thought he was wrong then and I still think he made a mistake.”
Blair believes that discipline plays a huge role on a successful team. You could say he subscribes to the Punch Imlach school of coaching and management.
An example of this is a recent incident which caused him to fine five of his players $150 each for breaking curfew after the team played poorly in Boston. The Stars bounced back and played very well in their next game against the Canadiens.
Blair says he wrote each of the players a letter after the Montreal game:
“I told them that in view of the fact it was the Christmas season, I would hold the fines in abeyance, put them on probation. But I also told them that the next time they stepped out of line it would be $500. You must have team discipline or you’ve got nothing.
“And, knowing my guys, I think a couple will go for $500 before the season is over.”
- Los Angeles Kings goalie Terry Sawchuk will miss about two weeks with a hamstring injury. The Kings have called up goalie Jacques Caron from their American Hockey League Springfield club.
- Rochester Americans of the AHL scored three times in the third period to defeat the hometown Phoenix Roadrunners 4-2. Bob Cook scored a pair of goals for the Amerks, including the game winner. Bob Barlow and Jean-Paul Parise also found the range for Rochester. Harry Shaw and Rollie Wilcox had the Phoenix scores.
- Jack Bownass, coach of the Eastern unit of the Canadian national hockey team says that a couple of his players, namely goalie Steve Rexe and winger Bob Berry, would be strong candidates for Canada’s team at the 1968 Olympics.
- Toronto Marlboros goaltender Gary Edwards was the star of the game as the Marlies and Red Wings battled to a 2-2 tie in Hamilton. Edwards was particularly brilliant in the second period when the Wings outshot Toronto 25-4. He gave up both of Hamilton’s goals during that middle session.
- The Petes and Niagara Falls Flyers skated to a 3-3 tie in Peterborough. Gary Swain, Doug Brindley and Phil Roberto connected for the Flyers. Paul Grills, Jack Rathwell and Rick MacLeish replied for the Petes.
- Oshawa Generals thumped the Ottawa 67s 6-2 at Hull, Quebec. Ron Dussiaume fired three goals to lead the Generals, with Fred O’Donnell, Bob Stewart and Jerry Welsh taking care of the rest of the scoring. Jean Potvin and Steve Ostapyk had the Ottawa tallies.
- Seals coach Bert Olmstead still wouldn’t give veteran forward Billy Harris any credit after he scored two goals in the Seals win over Philadelphia Wednesday. Olmstead said that Harris’s offensive outburst was the result of his move to put Bill Hicke on Harris’ wing. Hicke was returning to the lineup after missing five games with a lung infection.
- Bob Posen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch speculates that the Blues could soon call up Doug Harvey, playing defence and coaching their Kansas City Central Professional Hockey League team. Harvey, if he joins the Blues, would be reunited with his long-time Montreal team-mate Dickie Moore, who played his first game for St. Louis this week.
- King Clancy, the assistant coach and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs says that the toughest of the expansion clubs the Leafs have face this year is the Minnesota North Stars.
- The Maple Leafs originally had the NHL rights to North Stars goalie Gary Bauman. But with a very deep goaltending corps, Toronto let the rights to Bauman lapse and he was signed by Montreal. The North Stars drafted Bauman from Montreal in the Expansion Draft.