No games on which to report today, but some very interesting tidbits of hockey news. We have Los Angeles Kings general manager Larry Regan and coach Red Kelly discussing his team’s current eight-game losing streak, we get to know Blues backup goalie Seth Martin a little better, and news on a possible comeback by Red Wings retired goalie Roger Crozier.
Kings: Work or Rest?
The Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League’s Western Division are desperately fighting to end an eight-game losing streak and when one listens to coach Red Kelly or general manager Larry Regan, one must wonder if these two gentlemen are on the same page.
The Kings are on a brief hiatus, having no scheduled games until this Thursday. Coach Kelly, who one would think is closest to his men, has ordered his charges to take three days off. Stay completely away from the rink.
Kelly: “I told them just to stay away. They’re tired, that’s all. They get over that and they’ll be all right. I told them just to stay away from the Forum, ice and anything to do with hockey until Thursday.
“We’ll have a meeting at noon and then maybe skate a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.
“Most teams go through this. You just hope it doesn’t happen at the end of the season. The other teams aren’t playing any better. I think we’ve just let down a little. They’re just tired.”
So Kelly lays the blame on the losing streak on simple fatigue. He believes the answer, at least in the short term, is rest. And to be fair, the Kings have been on an extended road trip for the past couple of weeks.
The popular red head is searching for answers anywhere he can find them. The rookie coach said the other day that he found a penny, certainly a sign to him that the team’s luck is about to change. The next night the Kings lost to the lowly Oakland Seals. At least Red isn’t blaming the penny.
Regan, on the other hand, subscribes to a Punch Imlach-style of solution to the team’s woes: work harder. And he figures that his coach is on board with that notion:
“That’s the only way Red and I can think of breaking out of the predicament we’re in.”
That’s what Regan told the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Lou Cauz, while the above statement by Kelly was given to Chuck Garrity of the Los Angeles Times.
Regan had lots more to say to Cauz:
“The things that are happening haven’t just started recently. They’ve been building up for a long time and we weren’t surprised. We know that our defense isn’t the best.”
Regan was asked if anyone on the team has been a surprise.
Everyone is a surprise. But not the kind of surprise you’re thinking of.
“It would be different if you could put your finger on our problem. If we could it would be fairly easy to solve our troubles. But we can’t, we’ve got to just wait and hope things will clear up.
“Basically though, we’re just not skaing and a lot of our people aren’t putting out the way they should. Not like the way they did earlier.
“When you’re not skating there’s only one way to get going again and that’s work, work, work. But we don’t intend to panic, like bringing up six or seven new players.
“We’re going to stick with them. Of course, we don’t intend to pat them on the back and tell them ‘chins up’. We’ve got to start skating.
“You know Red and I both played for Imlach and we’re getting to understand what he was aiming at. Toronto lost 10 in a row last year and they came back to win the Cup. And look at Chicago. They didn’t win until their eighth game of the season.
“We’ll be back on top before this is all over. When we’re skating, Pittsburgh or Minnesota can’t stay with us. Philadelphia is a good team but we can catch them. At one time we were way out in front of them.”
Kings have made very few player moves this season and that is one option that remains open for Regan and Kelly. But it looks like they will have to find a way to agree on other issues before those things start to happen.
Seth Martin – Trailblazer
While former Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers goaltender Jacques Plante is generally credited with being responsible for the implementation of face masks for goalkeepers in the modern-day NHL, St. Louis Blues backup netminder Seth Martin is himself an innovator in the area of facial protection for puckstoppers.
Martin, who first played for Canada as a member of the Trail Smoke Eaters in 1961 is the man mainly responsible for introducing European goalies to the mask. He spoke to Wally Cross of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how his mask became popular across the Atlantic:
“When I made my first trip to Europe in 1961 with the Trail Smoke Eaters, I wore a mask that I had designed myself. It had a spring-steel grid-like opening around the mouth to allow air to circulate.
“There seemed to be a of of interest in it but I never realized how much until I toured Europe again in 1963 with the Canadian national team. Everywhere we went I saw exact copies of the mask. Almost all of the goalkeepers had one in the world tournament.
“Actually it was quite funny because I had redesigned my mask just prior to the tour and was wearing a fibreglass job very similar to that which I now use.”
When Martin returned overseas the next season, all the goalkeepers were wearing copies of the new model. He says he has sold about 25 of his masks to European netminders at about $45 each.
“I’ve tried the Plante, Lefty Wilson and other models, but I still prefer mine. It’s not the strongest or most rigid of them all, but I think you can see with it better than any of the others.”
It will be interesting to see if other NHL goalkeepers become interested in Martin’s masks. You certainly can’t argue with the results he’s enjoyed with it.
- Johnny Bower will be out of the Maple Leafs lineup for at least a week with pulled ligaments in his left elbow. Toronto has called up 22-year-old rookie goalie Al Smith from their Tulsa farm team in the Central Professional Hockey League. Smith has played three games for the Leafs over the past couple of seasons.
- Detroit Red Wings retired goalkeeper Roger Crozier worked out yesterday at the Detroit Olympia. Crozier is said to be considering a comeback with the team, but he wouldn’t commit to anything yesterday. If Crozier does return to playing, it’s likely that he will start off with Detroit’s CPHL farm team at Fort Worth, Texas.
- Chicago Black Hawks team mates Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita are tied for the lead in the NHL scoring race. Hull had 48 points on 31 goals and 17 assists while Mikita has compiled 24 goals and a like number of helpers. Fred Stanfield of the Bruins is seven points back, with 41 points.
- The tandem of Doug Favell and Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers continues to lead the Vezina Trophy derby. The Flyers duo have a goals-against average of 2.08, having given up only 77 goals in 37 games.
- Right winger Ron Atwell has been placed on irrevocable waivers by the New York Rangers. Atwell was acquired earlier this season in a trade with the St. Louis Blues. If he clears, he will likely be sent to the AHL Buffalo Bisons.
- Rangers have hired former NHL referee and Hockey Hall of Fame member Bill Chadwick to provide colour commentary on their radio broadcasts.
- A rumour out of Winnipeg has Canadian national team coach Jackie McLeod packing it in at the end of this season and hooking up with the New York Rangers as an assistant coach to Emile Francis.
- The Kings have sent forward Jim Anderson back to their AHL farm team at Springfield. It is expected that winger Doug Robinson will be recalled from Springfield in time for Thursday night’s game.
- St. Louis Blues have called up forward Craig Cameron from the Kansas City Blues of the CPHL. Cameron will take the place of centre Ron Schock, who twisted a knee at practice yesterday.
- Pittsburgh Penguins will have forward Paul Andrea back in the lineup tomorrow night when they face the Montreal Canadiens in Pittsburgh. Andrea has missed the past two Penguins games with a flu bug that has been rampaging through the Pittsburgh roster.
- Montreal Canadiens coach Toe Blake will be behind the bench for the NHL All-stars when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs next Tuesday. Blake has added three of his own players to the All-star roster: defencemen Jacques Laperriere and J.C. Tremblay, along with centre Jean Beliveau.
- Vancouver city chaplain Rev. George Turpin prayed to God for an NHL team for the city last night at the opening of the new Pacific Coliseum arena. A crowd of 13,000 was on hand to witness the ceremony.
- Alex Delvecchio scored four goals, including two in the last two minutes to give the Detroit Red Wings a 5-3 win over the Junior A Hamilton Red Wings before 2600 fans at the Hamilton Forum. The game was the annual exhibition held each year at this time. Hamilton goalies Gerry Gray and Jimmy Rutherford played exceptionally well for the juniors.
- The National Hockey League Players Association and the NHL owners have an agreement whereby players receive $15 per day for meals, tips and taxis while on the road, but only $7.50 on the day a team leaves from home for a road trip. North Stars general manager-coach Wren Blair cuts that $7.50 stipend to $2.00 when the team flies. He figures the meal on the plane is worth $5.50 and players shouldn’t claim it. Has he ever eaten airline food?
- Tom Webster has taken over the lead in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Series scoring race. Webster has 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 points. Richie Bayes of Toronto is second, 3 points behind Webster.