The National Hockey League announced its mid-season All-star team today. In a departure from past practice, this time the 12 NHL coaches selected the team, with interesting results. We also have word on fines for Ted Green and Doug Mohns, as well as the usual Quick hits.
First-Half NHL All-stars
The NHL’s first half All-star teams were announced this morning with some interesting choices. The teams were picked by the 12 NHL coaches this time, a departure from the usual system of voting by hockey writers from across the league.
What we discovered in this process is that the big-league bench bosses are generally an agreeable lot. Three players were selected to the first team unanimously. And one other missed unanimous selection by one vote.
The voting was conducted on a 5-3-1 points system, with five points for first, three for second and a single point for third place.
Those three who received 12 first-place votes were centre Stan Mikita and left wing Bobby Hull of the Black Hawks, along with the 19-year-old budding superstar of the Boston Bruins, defenceman Bobby Orr. Gordie Howe was named first on 11 right-wing ballots, and second on one.
The selection of Orr might be the most shocking, especially for those who don’t get to see him perform live every night. After all, the kid won’t be 20 years old until March. He has played just one full professional season, and has missed time in this, his second year. Every one of the coaches in the NHL rates him the best rearguard in the NHL. Think about that.
In a league where the Pierre Pilotes, Harry Howells and Tim Hortons of the world dominate the blue line, young Orr has already surpassed them all. And this wasn’t determined by a legion of scribes who never played the game. This is the opinion of the men who guide the NHL teams’ fortunes each and every night. This group knows a thing or two.
Here are the first and second teams with votes in parentheses:
There are a few surprises, especially on the second team. Toronto’s Mike Walton was an unexpected second-place finisher for centre – albeit just one point ahead of Boston’s Phil Esposito. One could argue that big Esposito would be far more deserving that Walton. It seems Walton himself would tend to agree:
“That’s ridiculous, It’s a shock to me. I never expected it because I haven’t been playing well lately, Being selected to the all-stars is a tremendous thing. I’ll do my best to warrant the coaches confidence.”
Gary Bergman of the Red Wings and Johnny McKenzie of Boston were two other names on the second team that may have raised a few eyebrows.
McKenzie has bounced around the NHL from Detroit to Chicago to New York before finally finding a home in Boston half-way through the 1965-66 season. He’s never scored 20 goals and hasn’t been in the conversation as one of the right-wingers one thinks of as second-best behind Gordie Howe. But this season, McKenzie has blossomed on a line with Johnny Bucyk (second-team left-winger) and centre Fred Stanfield, who finished fourth in the voting at his position.
Bergman was another interesting pick on defence for the second team. He finished a scant three points ahead of Montreal’s J.C. Tremblay. Bergman’s rise to prominence is likely due to the Red Wing’s dire situation on defence. The Wings are sorely lacking in blue line talent, and that makes a man like Bergman even more valuable. He gets the bulk of the ice time for the coaches Sid Abel and Baz Bastien and he seems to thrive on the increased workload.
Here are the complete lists including all players who received at least one point:
- Doug Mohns of the Chicago Black Hawks and Boston’s Ted Green have each been tagged with fines of $300 by the NHL. The penalties are punishment for their parts in a vicious stick-swinging duel between the two last Sunday night in Boston. Both were banished from the game at 12:22 of the first period with match penalties for attempting to injure an opponent.
- Wayne Carleton, left winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs, wore a helmet for the first time in practice yesterday. He hasn’t decided if he will keep it on for games.
- Maple Leafs defence prospect Jim McKenny is ready to being playing again for the Rochester Americans. McKenny has been sidelined since December 17 with a broken ankle.
- New York Rangers have recalled defenceman Allan Hamilton and forward Bob Jones from the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. The Rangers will be missing four regulars due to injury for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins: Vic Hadfield, Larry Jeffrey, Bernie Geoffrion and Wayne Hillman.
- Los Angeles Kings have called up 24-year-old Danish-born defenceman Poul Popiel from the Springfield Kings of the AHL. He will be replacing the injured Bob Wall.
- New York Rangers general manager-coach Emile Francis is not in favour of NHL players wearing helmets: “They encourage stick-swinging. If everyone wore one, you’d see more high-sticking.”
- Gordie Drillon, the last Toronto Maple Leaf to win the NHL scoring title, is another who thinks that helmets shouldn’t be worn by NHL players: “I think it would detract from the game. The fans wouldn’t like it. Just look at football – all you see is numbers, no faces.”
The Oakland Seals hope to have a resolution to the situation involving centre Billy Harris by Friday. Harris left the team in the middle of Saturday night’s game against the New York Rangers, saying he is contemplating retiring from hockey. After meeting with club president Frank Selke Jr. yesterday, Harris has asked for a few more days to think things over.
- The AHL and WHL players association have agreed to merge to form the Minor Professional Hockey Players Association. WHL players association president Doug Messier of the Portland Buckaroos says that his group agreed to join with their AHL counterparts yesterday, although players in each league still must ratify the pact.
- The Kitchener Rangers took over first place in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A league last night with an 8-3 win over the previously-first Niagara Falls Flyers. Walter Tkaczuk fired a pair of goals for the Rangers, with singles coming off the sticks of Cam Crosby, Denis Dupere, Mike Robitaille, Dan Seguin, Jarmo Lehtonen, and Don Luce. Tom Webster counted twice for the Flyers, with Steve Atkinson adding the other.
- Catharines Black Hawks skated past the London Nationals 5-3 at Treasure Island Gardens in London. John Fisher paced the Hawks with two goals. Dennis Giannini, Glen Sherwood and Al McDonough also scored for St. Kitts. Allie Sutherland had two for the Nats, with John Gould the other London goal-getter.
- The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association has ruled that forwards Gary Dineen and Danny O’Shea of the Canadian national hockey team are eligible for the 1968 Olympics. It had been thought that since the two had signed NHL C-forms, which bind them to one big-league franchise, they may not be considered amateur. Neither player has received any sort of payment for signing the form, so their amateur status has not been compromised.