The Stanley Cup playoffs opened last night in Montreal and Chicago and went pretty much according to form. The Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 while the Black Hawks nipped the Detroit Red Wings 2-1.
Leafs Without Bower
Johnny Bower, expected to start in goal for Toronto, was still battling the flu before the game and wasn’t able to suit up for the Leafs. So, coach Punch Imlach turned to Terry Sawchuk to carry the goaltending load in game one. While Sawchuk didn’t play poorly, the steadying influence Bower provides was definitely missing.
Toronto got off to a good start just over two minutes into the game with Eddie Shack opening the scoring, thanks to a nice setup by Bob Pulford. Montreal came right back on a power play goal be defenseman J.C. Tremblay.But with less than two minutes left in the opening frame, Larry Hillman gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead.
Canadiens scored the only two goals of the middle frame, despite the Leafs holding a territorial edged in play. John Ferguson tied it at 3:05 before Bobby Rousseau gave Montreal its first lead of the game a little over five minutes later.
The third period was a tense affair, with both clubs settling into a tight-checking mode. A line-juggling move by Imlach paid off in Toronto’s third goal. The Toronto coach moved Pulford between Ron Ellis and Wally Boyer and Pulford rewarded Imlach by scoring. His screened shot went past Montreal goalie Gump Worsley who had no idea where the puck was.
With 2:12 left in the game, big Jean Beliveau netted the winner. Claude Provost made the goal possible when he picked off a clearing attempt by George Armstrong in the Toronto zone. Provost’s shot was deflected by Hillman right to Beliveau who was all alone in front of Sawchuk. The Montreal captain made no mistake and the Habs had the lead.
Toronto thought they had the game tied with 10 seconds left. Dave Keon roared in to beat Worsley. However the play was ruled offside and the goal was negated. Films later showed Keon was about three feet offside.
Montreal coach Toe Blake wasn’t particularly impressed with his club’s play, but he did single out Tremblay for praise:
“We were lucky to have J.C. tonight. We played bad. We’re going to have to play better than that. I think we can play better than they did and they (the Leafs) can play better too.”
Imlach admitted that his team was battling bad health in this game. Not only was Bower suffering from the flu, but veteran forward Red Kelly had it too. Frank Mahovlich was not working at full speed thanks to fluid on a knee. And early in the game, Leafs lost defenseman Allan Stanley when he re-injured a knee as well. Imlach says he is done for the season:
“We knew Stanley had cartilage trouble when he was hurt three weeks ago. But we hoped he could strengthen it enough to get by in the playoffs. Now it looks as if we should have operated right away.”
Stanley knew he was in trouble early:
“I knew something was really gone in there when I tried to take a guy out.”
Despite the loss of Stanley, the Leafs still have five NHL defenders at the ready and two more AHL recruits, Al Arbour and Duane Rupp, standing by. Globe and Mail columnist Dick Beddoes even suggested that retired and suspended rearguard Carl Brewer might be coaxed out of retirement if things got really serious.
Wings Upbeat Despite Loss
The Chicago Black Hawks scored twice in the first period and then hung on for a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in game one of their Stanley Cup semi-final series. In fact, all the game’s scoring took place in the opening 20 minutes.
Ken Wharram started things off at 6:04 on a beautiful three-way passing play with Doug Jarrett and Stan Mikita. But the play was made possible when Detroit blueliner Gary Bergman attempted to level Wharram with a bodycheck. Wharram eluded Bergman, picked up the loose puck and went in unimpeded on Detroit goalie Roger Crozier. Wharram made a deft move to the right and when Crozier went with him, the Chicago winger slipped the puck through his legs.
Bobby Hull, who set the NHL record with 54 goals this season, picked up right where he left off and made it 2-0 for Chicago at 11:54. Hull tipped in a perfect pass from Chico Maki to score the eventual winner. Crozier had absolutely no chance on the play.
Red Wings got back into the game before the period ended when Dean Prentice notched a power play marker while Pierre Pilote was in the penalty box.
The Red Wings nearly tied it late in the period when Norm Ullman’s shot trickled behind Glenn Hall of the Hawks, but the Chicago netminder grabbed the puck before it reached the goal line.
The game settled into a checking match by both sides. Neither club was able to solve the other’s defense and when they did, goalies Crozier and Hall took care of business in an efficient and workmanlike manner.
Detroit’s rookie rearguard Bert Marshall left the game in the second period when his foot was cut by Jarrett’s skate. Marshall took three stitches and returned for the final period. Jarrett injured his back on the play and was sent to hospital for x-rays.
The tension was palpable in the Chicago Stadium all night, and it even took its toll on the coaches. Billy Reay, Hawks’ bench boss, was exhausted at the end:
“If it does go seven games, I’ll be bushed.”
Detroit coach Sid Abel felt that Hull’s goal was tainted:
“People were jumping inside the crease. If the referee had been on his toes, he would have called the play. The ice didn’t help either. The puck was bouncing all over the place and they couldn’t control it. The ice had holes or lumps or something on it.”
Veteran Red Wing forward Andy Bathgate spoke for most of his team mates when he said his team was confident they beat Chicago:
“I’m sure we’ll take them. The ice was slow tonight and they got some terrific goaltending from Glenn Hall, but I’m sure it will go seven games now and we’ll take them.”
Expansion Teams Tampering
National Hockey League president Clarence Campbell says that one of the six expansion franchises set to begin play in 1967-68 may have tampered with employees of the established teams.
Campbell says he has sent letters to the new teams outlining the rules against tampering. Despite that missive issued by the league, Campbell says he has received three complaints that new teams are attempting to approach employees still under contract to the present six teams. The complaint involve only non-playing personnel.
Ed Fitkin, who formerly worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs and is now assistant to Los Angeles franchise-holder Jack Kent Cooke says his team is not involved in the complaints to which Campbell referred.
“Cooke called Campbell and was assured that he had received no complaints about L.A. But he had heard reports that a couple of other new member clubs had been tampering.”
Fitkin went on to respond to rumours making the rounds that the Kings had Toronto general manager-coach Punch Imlach all but signed, sealed and delivered to run their club:
“The Los Angeles club has not approached Punch Imlach nor any other current NHL manager or coach with a view to handling the new NHL entry when it makes its debut in 1967-68.”
Cooke Arena Offer Rejected
An offer by Jack Kent Cooke to lease the Los Angeles Sports Arena until his new rink is ready was rejected by the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission.
Cooke made an offer to lease the facility for two years. He also asked than an escape clause be included in the agreement that would allow him to leave before the two years was up if the arena he plans to build was ready. He said he would pay the Commission $100,000 to leave early.
The Commission rejected his offer outright, but left the door open for further negotiations. They said they would agree to nothing less than a three to ten-year contract. The majority of members of the Commission felt that they should look for new tenants for the facility, but there were members who felt it was in their best interests to negotiate further with Cooke.
Cooke is the owner of both the new NHL franchise for Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. He pledged to the NHL governors to build his own arena, which he says will be completed by December of 1967.
The impasse seems to be a result of a dispute between the Commission and the NHL. Supervisor Warren M. Dorn, a Commission member, said that the NHL had reneged on an agreement they had with the Commission:
Dorn says that the Sports Arena was built using specifications provided by the NHL, with the understanding that when an expansion franchise was granted, it would be used to house the new team. The Commission views Cooke’s new arena as competition for the publicly-owned facility.
Dorn went on to say that Cooke doesn’t deserve any favours from the Commission:
“He shouldn’t compete with us and we have a moral obligation to the public to run the Sports Arena like a business and we shouldn’t baby him along while he is out lining up competition to our facility.”
Pilous to Seals?
Jack Berry of the Detroit Free Press says that Rudy Pilous, coach and general manager of the Hamilton Red Wings of the Ontario Hockey Association, will be heading back to the National Hockey League.
Pilous gained fame as the coach of the Chicago Black Hawks Stanley Cup-winning team in 1961. The Hamilton club is the top junior team of the Detroit Red Wings.
The San Francisco Seals are just finishing up their Western Hockey League season. They will play in the WHL one more season before starting up an an NHL expansion franchise in 1967-68. Berry says Pilous has been retained to coach the team next year and when it moves to hockey’s major league. The announcement will be made after the WHL playoffs.
Contradicting Berry’s report is hockey writer Dink Carroll of the Montreal Gazette. He says that Pilous will be hired by the Boston Bruins to replace their coach, Milt Schmidt. Carroll says Schmidt will retire after the Stanley Cup playoffs.
- Stafford Smythe, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, wants the NHL to ensure the success of the new expansion teams by making quality players available in next summer’s expansion draft.
- Tulsa Oilers tied their CPHL playoff series with Minnesota Rangers at 1-1 with a 4-3 win at St. Paul. Lowell MacDonald scored the winning goal in the fourth minute of the second overtime.
- Paul Emms, coach of the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA Junior A series and son of Bruins general manager Hap Emms, had his common assault charge remanded to April 27. The charge arose from an incident with an usher at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium during a March 10 playoff game.
- A report by Dink Carroll of the Montreal Gazette says that Zanvil Krieger of Baltimore asked the permission of the Detroit Red Wings to talk to retired star Ted Lindsay. That, of course, was before St. Louis won the sixth NHL expansion franchise this week.
- Sid Abel says that goalie Roger Crozier is thinking about donning a face mask and he would be all for it.
- The Nashville Dixie Flyers of the Eastern Hockey League held a “Marv Edwards Appreciation Night” for their goalie who is a huge fan favourite.