Today’s report is a little shorter, with only one National Hockey League game on which to report. In that one, the skidding Toronto Maple Leafs lost yet another game to a Western Division team. We’ll also have a report on Bobby Orr’s knee surgery and the usual quick hits.
Kings 2 Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs were hoping for a quick turnaround against the Los Angeles Kings last night. After losing to the lowly Oakland Seals on Sunday evening, Punch Imlach thought that the perfect tonic for his sinking club would be another game against an expansion foe. That certainly wasn’t the case as the Kings blanked the Leafs 2-0 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
A fine crowd of 12,307 turned out to see the Kings upset the Stanley Cup champs. Word around the rink is that the crowds would be even greater if the severe parking issues that fans have to endure could be solved. Many fans didn’t get into the rink until well after the half-way mark of the first period, delayed by a long walk to the building and poor entrance configuration.
Wayne Rutledge was the star for the home side in this one. The 26-year-old Barrie, Ontario native put on a stellar performance in goal for the Kings. He made 31 saves for his second shutout of the year. His best stops came in the scoreless first period when he robbed Larry Hillman, Ron Ellis and Dave Keon. He was named the game’s first star.
Kings goals were scored by Howie Menard and Eddie Joyal. The goal for Menard was especially meaningful. He is a former Toronto chattel, having played a season and a half for the Junior A Marlboros before being traded away to the Hamilton Red Wings, who were Detroit’s Ontario Hockey Association Junior A affiliate.
That deal was a great break for Menard, as he captained the Hamilton club to the 1962 Memorial Cup championship. But he was deeply disappointed at being dealt away from the Toronto organization and vowed he’d some day show them they had erred in letting him go.
“I have waited seven years for this moment. I was broken-hearted when Marlboro juniors traded me to Hamilton when I was 18. I had just been married and it was like the end of the world.
“When Eddie Shore drafted me from Detroit for his American Hockey League club I thought my chances of making it to the NHL were just about nil.
“Then came expansion, Kings gave me a chance and this was my night. I’ll never forget it.
“I think it was Gerry Brown, (then the Marlies coach) who said: ‘Menard will never be a pro.’ I wonder what he thinks now?”
Imlach was so upset that he ordered his team onto the Forum ice for an 8 a.m. practice this morning before jetting off for home.
The Leafs now sit in fifth place in the Eastern Division, four back of the New York Rangers. They have 21 games left on the schedule to sort things out, but that’s a tall order. The Rangers show no signs of slippage and aren’t likely to give up fourth without a battle.
Orr Surgery Said Successful
Bobby Orr, the young superstar defenceman of the Boston Bruins who has not yet seen his 20th birthday, underwent successful surgery on his left knee yesterday in Boston. A statement issues by Dr. Ronald Adams, the club physician, indicates that Orr could return to play hockey again this season:
“The operation was a complete success, and was badly needed. There is no reason to assume Bobby can’t skate in five weeks.”
The operation started around noon and took just over an hour. Dr. Adams described the damage to the knee as a “bucket-handle tear, in other words a badly damaged cartilage.”
With just six weeks left in the NHL regular season, that means Orr could suit up for the final few Bruins games and be ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs. A lot will depend on how quickly he can start physical therapy.
He will remain in hospital for 10 to 12 days and, the doctor noted, he will be allowed no visitors.
Bruins general manager Milt Schmidt talked about the injury and remained optimistic that Orr would be back and good as new:
“As far as I know the knee locked up on him in St. Louis Wednesday night. Apparently the knee has been getting worse.
“He tried to play in Detroit Saturday, but had to give up. When he lifts the leg up and tries to skate, the joint sticks and won’t come back down easily.
“I’m confident Bobby will be back before anybody expects, considering his age and the kind of player he is.
“This is a tough break for us. However, our feelings are that we’re still going to make it. All the fellows want to win.”
Orr himself was vague about exactly how he was injured. He told coach Harry Sinden that he first noticed the problem after the Bruins game in Montreal on January 27. He tried to play through the pain, but it just wasn’t possible, and it became obvious that he was far below his usual high standard of play.
Bruins called up defenceman Barry Gibbs from Oklahoma City of the Central Professional Hockey League to take Orr’s roster spot. He’ll serve as the Bruins fifth defenceman while Gary Doak slides into Orr’s place on the right side with Dallas Smith.
This is not the same knee Orr injured during that off-season exhibition match.
- Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers will have x-rays today on his back. He’s been suffering from back spasms.
- Suspended Toronto right winger Jim Pappin has turned up in Sudbury, Ontario. Pappin refused to report to the Rochester Americans of the AHl when demoted a few days ago and has been suspended by the team. He has said he will not play again until the Leafs trade him to another NHL team. He’s visiting his in-laws in Sudbury.
- Los Angeles Kings tried to trade defenceman Dale Rolfe, recently demoted to the Springfield Kings of the AHL, to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Kings would like to acquire winger Pappin or centre Mike Walton, both of whom are in manager Punch Imlach’s dog house. Imlach wouldn’t bite, saying he has no interest in Rolfe.
- Toronto rookie centre Garry Unger, who had knee surgery just before the start of training camp, is having more trouble with the joint. He likely won’t play in the Leafs’ weekend games.
- Oakland Seals general manager Bert Olmstead gave up his coaching duties three games ago, turning the bench over to assistant Gord Fashoway. He’s been observing the Seals from the press box. What has he seen from his perch on high?
“I saw a lack of effort, a lack of trying. They’re not passing and not checking and knot skating. Ninety-nine per cent of the time when you’re not skating, you’re not putting out.”
- Pittsburgh Penguins have the NHL rights to injured U.S. Olympic forward Craig Falkman. Penguins scout Rudy Migay says Falkman “looks good, for a college player.”
- Reporters touring the new Madison Square Garden report that many seats have restricted views of the ice surface for hockey games.
- Minnesota North Stars have sent goalie Gary Bauman to Rochester of the AHL, calling up netminder Carl Wetzel.
- Since the NHL all-star break on January 16, the Western Division teams have gone 10-10-4 against the East.