The National Hockey League All-star game was held last night at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and we have a full report. We also have some other news from around the league including a payment deadline for the Oakland Seals and more on the helmet issue.
Maple Leafs 4 All-stars 3
In what could be the final NHL All-star game in this format, the Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs edged the All-stars 4-3 in Toronto. As All-star games go, this one was better than most. There were periods of sustained action, some very good goalkeeping and more than a few solid body checks. And the elite players of the league showcased their talents in performances that did not disappoint.
The game had a little of everything – even a brief tussle between the unlikeliest of combatants.
The Maple Leafs, who have a home record of 16 wins and only three losses this season continued their fine play at Maple Leaf Gardens, showing the type of work ethic and structure that made them the 1967 Stanley Cup champs.
Bruce Gamble started in goal for Toronto and he held his team in the game until they really got rolling in the second period. He was relieved in the third period by rookie Al Smith, who put in a tidy performance the rest of the way. Smith’s best save was a sparkling grab with his left hand of a Bobby Hull blast late in the game to preserve the Toronto victory.
Leafs took a 1-0 lead just before the six-minute mark of the first period on a goal by Murray Oliver. The Stars were all over the Leafs for most of the wide-open first 20 minutes, but couldn’t beat Gamble until the final seven seconds when Stan Mikita tied it up.
The All-stars outshot the Leafs 19-9 in the opening frame.
The second period started off in the same manner that the first ended. Ken Wharram, set up this time by Mikita, scored at the 35-second mark to put the All-stars up by one. That goal seemed to awaken the Leafs, who dominated the rest of the period. They took a 3-2 lead after two on goals by Allan Stanley and big Peter Stemkowski.
Ron Ellis scored what proved to be the winner at 3:31 of the final session. Newly-elected National Hockey League Players Association president Norm Ullman drew the Stars to within one at 8:23 but that was as close as it would get.
Just prior to the 15-minute mark of the third, Red Wings superstar Gordie Howe tangled with young Toronto centre Mike Walton. Walton and Howe met at centre ice when Walton streaked by the veteran star right winger. Walton went down, either tripped by Howe or caught by a deft hip check, depending on whom you talk to.
Walton took exception to being so unceremoniously dumped in front of the home crowd and went back at Howe in what could have been a very ill-advised decision. After some brief verbal sparring and a couple of gentle slashes, the two dropped their gloves and exchanged a few half-hearted punches before cooler heads prevailed. Both received minor penalties for roughing.
Walton, the much smaller and much less truculent of the two, was probably thankful that nothing more than pride was on the line. Had Big Gordie taken the so-called bout seriously, we might have a different story to tell here.
Howe laughed about the set-to after the game when he was asked if he had, indeed, tripped the fleet Toronto centre:
“That wasn’t a trip. I gave him a hip. At least I tried to but he was so fast that I think I caught him with my leg.
“But it was a judgement call and I think the referee judged pretty well, don’t you?
“I didn’t get mad soon enough. I got mad too late. I should have got mad when we were alone. Heck, if I wanted to hit him I could have. I almost kissed him on the ear.
“But who wants to fight? Fighting is no fun. I cant get interested in it. Say, this was a good game, wasn’t it?”
Seals Owe NHL ‘Sizeable Sum’
The Oakland Seals have been given a deadline to “make good all their obligations” to the NHL. The Seals will have to come up with about $700,000 by May 15.
Oakland owner Barry Van Gerbig disputes the $700,000 figure, but acknowledges that the Seals do have a large debt to repay the league.
NHL president Clarence Campbell commented on the situation:
“Oakland has not been drawing sufficiently well to pay its own way. And its internal structure is such that the raising of additional funds is too slow a process.
“There is no current indication that the situation is improving. Oakland has, however, the inalienable right to manage its own affairs.”
Van Gerbig professed to be unconcerned about the huge shortfall:
“I’m not worried. The only one who is worried about it seems to be the president.”
Van Gerbig said that some of his partners, of whom there are many, seem to be rather slow to come up with promised funds.
“But we’ll smoke them out. I’m getting tired of always going to the front.”
Both Van Gerbig and Campbell agree that the Seals definitely will play in Oakland next season.
Emms Orders Jr A Flyers to Wear Helmets
Hap Emms, owner of the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Niagara Falls Flyers, has ordered each player on his team to put on a helmet for their next game. And the helmets will be kept on for the rest of this season and beyond.
It is known that when the OHA Junior A council meets at the end of this month consideration will be given to make helmets mandatory throughout the league.
Two other Junior A teams are working on getting players to wear helmets. Both Oshawa and St. Catharines are trying to convince their players to don the headgear, but have stopped short of making it compulsory. Nine members of the Generals already wear helmets, while six of the St. Catharines players use them. Toronto Marlboros have five players wearing helmets full-time.
Sam Pollock, general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expressed doubt about making helmets compulsory:
“They might encourage rough play and more high-sticking. I don’t think they are the answer.”
Brent Madill, general manager of the Kitchener Rangers has a different take:
“If everybody does it, OK. I think some day the kids coming up will all wear helmets. That’s why they did it in the feeder system. We’re going to go on as usual. If a boy wants to wear one, all right.”
Fred Muller, president of the St. Catharines Black Hawks will bring up the issue at the council meeting. He spoke about why he believes all players should have to wear helmets:
“If one boy’s injury is minimized, it will be worth it. The Junior A league is more prone to head injuries than any other. The boys are pretty aggressive, tempers flare, the sticks go up and there are injuries. I’m in favour of all amateurs wearing helmets.
“Al McDonough of our team hit the ice, just as Masterton did, six weeks ago. He had a concussion and started to wear a helmet. Gerry Korab was cut for 10 stitches he would never have had if he had been wearing one. Pete Mara ran into another player wearing a helmet. He didn’t have one on and he suffered a broken jaw.
“Dale Power on our team has worn a helmet ever since he was a tyke player. It’s part of his equyipment. Many of the toip scorers in the league wear helmets. The headgear doesn’t bother Bayes of Marlboros or Teal of our team.”
- Bobby Orr of the Bruins injured a shoulder during last night’s All-star game when he was checked by Toronto’s Frank Mahovlich in the first period. Orr finished the game and played extremely well, but will be checked in a Boston hospital today.
- Toronto Brian Conacher wore a helmet in last night’s game. It wasn’t a first for Conacher, he sported the headgear for the first 15 games of last season. When asked why he had gone back to the helmet after discarding it last season, Conacher’s answer was simple: “Common sense.”
- Some hockey writers, such as Dick Beddoes of the Toronto Globe and Mail, suggest that the quality of the NHL all-star Game was diminished because All-star coach Toe Blake was forced to name a player from each NHL team. Here’s how Beddoes described that game: “The edict forced on mere exhibit that had the same connection with sports that a tattooed fat lady in a circus has with the theatre.”
- NHL president Clarence Campbell wants next year’s and all subsequent all-star games to be an “East vs West” matchup.
- Campbell also announced that the NHL schedule will be increased to 76 games for each team for next season. There will be more inter-divisional games under the new setup.
- Campbell also said that the league has no plans to make helmets compulsory for players: “I don’t believe regimentation is necessary, but I do feel that the best helmets available should be provided to players who want them and have the courage of their convictions and will wear them. In fact I think they should be encouraged to wear them. But I don’t believe it can be made mandatory, I believe that most players in the next generation will have learned to play with helmets.”
- The NHL Writers Association announced that they plan to establish an award to honour Bill Masterton. The Association says the award will go to a player who normally wouldn’t receive much recognition, but exact parameters haven’t been discussed.
- Norm Ullman of the Detroit Red Wings has been elected as the new president of the National Hockey League Players Association.
- The National Hockey League has established a $5000 trust fund for the children of Bill Masterton.
- Forwards Paul Andrea and Art Stratton of the Pittsburgh Penguins will begin wearing helmets starting with the Penguins next game.
- Frank Mahovlich of the Maple Leafs says he would wear a helmet tomorrow “if ordered to.”