The National Hockey League begins a historic three days of meetings today in New York City. The league’s board of governors will be reviewing applications for expansion franchises and listening to presentations from prospective team owners. It is expected that at least two franchises will be awarded some time this week.
Montreal Canadiens president David Molson said as much yesterday:
The hope is that we’ll be able to tell at least two groups that they can go ahead with building a hockey organization.
The NHL has been a stable, six-team operation for the past 24 years. But, as the team’s owners and executives watched baseball, basketball and football add teams across the United States, they became covetous of the additional revenue the new teams brought to their leagues. And the main goose that the will lay eggs laden with gold, in the opinion of the NHL governors, is television.
The governors believe the path to the land of riches leads directly through a television screen. Baseball and football are reaping the benefits of huge television contracts. The NHL has chased that dream, and have been rebuffed. The networks believe the league is “too regional.” A national product is necessary for a viewership size that will make adding hockey programming profitable.
So, the league decided to double in size and add teams from coast to coast. It’s expected that exactly where these teams will be located will be determined during this weeks conclave.
Four locations have already been deemed suitable by the league’s expansion committee. Los Angeles and San Francisco on the United States west coast are naturals. St. Louis has the arena (which is owned by the Black Hawks’ Jim Norris and Arthur Wirtz). And Vancouver is the most deserving Canadian city, also in the far west. The Pacific National Exhibition corporation has committed to building a NHL-standard rink for Vancouver in time for the 1967-68 season.
NHL president Clarence Campbell says that despite identifying the four above cities as viable locations, all entries are starting even this week. He was asked which cities have the best chances:
It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to make any such comment now. As far as I am concerned all the applicants have the same chance as of now.
Five Groups From LA
Five groups are vying for the Los Angeles franchise, with one group each from St. Louis, Vancouver and San Francisco. The other two cities to be admitted to this exclusive club will be chosen from among Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Cleveland.
There are some heavy-hitters looking to become NHL team owners. Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League is said to be heading the Cleveland group, although they aren’t being give much of a chance at this point. Entertainer Bing Crosby is the main investor in the group that wants a team for San Francisco. Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL and film producer Tony Owen are favoured for the Los Angeles franchise. Baseball great Stan Musial is rumoured to be involved in the St. Louis bid.
Both Philadelphia and Buffalo have seen their chances improve in recent days. The Philly group has solidified plans for an NHL-quality rink. Buffalo has garnered the support of the New York Rangers, but still has to satisfy the Toronto Maple Leafs, upon whose territory they would encroach.
$2 Million for 20 Players
The new owners will fork over $2,000,000 to the league for the privilege of acquiring 20 players, many of whom may be of dubious NHL quality. Exactly where these players will come from hasn’t yet been determined.
Expansion of the NHL will affect hockey at all levels. The American and Western hockey leagues will certainly lose cities. Both organizations say they will seek indemnification in the form of cold, hard cash from the NHL for incursion on their territories.
Jack Adams, the president of the Central Professional Hockey League sees his loop as a prime provider of talent for the new NHL teams. He says players in his league are young, fast and hungry.
Even the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A League anticipates a ripple effect. League officials believe that the new NHL teams will want to sponsor junior clubs and they anticipate a corresponding expansion of their own league.
The NHL hopes to open the 1967-68 season with the six new teams in a brand-new division.
NHL Lead a Three-Way Tie
Three teams are tied atop the National Hockey League standings this morning. After the Montreal Canadiens blanked the New York Rangers 4-0 last night, the Habs, Chicago and Detroit all have 56 points. Toronto sits in fourth, nine points back of the leaders.
In the other games last night, Chicago edged the Leafs 3-2 while Detroit and Boston skated to a 3-3 tie.
Montreal goalie Gump Worsley was rock-solid in shutting out the Rangers. He made 22 saves, including 14 in the second period. The pudgy Canadiens netminder even had to withstand a last-minute push by the Rangers when coach Emile Francis pulled goalie Ed Giacomin for an extra attacker, despite being down by three goals.
The strategy backfired. Gilles Tremblay beat Ranger captain Bob Nevin to a loose puck and deposited the disk into an unguarded Gotham cage for the fourth Montreal counter.
Worsley wasn’t impressed by Francis’ late move to ruin his shutout bid:
What was he trying to prove? Maybe he wanted to give the crowd something to cheer about. Instead they had another reason to boo the Rangers.
Bobby Rousseau, Ralph Backstrom and Claude Larose had the other Montreal goals. Canadiens have beaten the Rangers in eight of nine games played between the two clubs this season.
Mikita Paces Hawks
Stan Mikita, sporting 13 stitches across his forehead and a brand new helmet, paced the Chicago Black Hawks to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Chicago Stadium. The win provided a measure of revenge for both Mikita and the Hawks. Toronto had defeated Chicago the previous evening in Toronto in a game in which Mikita sustained his cut thanks to a slash by the Leafs’ Kent Douglas.
A bright spot for Toronto was the fact that they managed to keep the Black Hawks scoring machine Bobby Hull out of the game summary for the second night in a row. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Chicago goalie Glenn Hall did much the same to them. Hall played a splendid game, frustrating the Leafs time and time again.
Toronto received a good performance from their goalie, Terry Sawchuk. He couldn’t be faulted for the loss.
Toronto may have lost more than the game. Defenseman Bobby Baun, was injured in the first period when he was charged by Chicago’s Matt Ravlich. Baun was taken to a local hospital and spent the night there under observation. There was no immediate word on his condition. Baun had just returned to the Toronto lineup Thursday after missing six weeks with a knee injury.
Mikita scored two goals to lead the Chicago attack. Eric Nesterenko added the other. Toronto scorers were George Armstrong and Dave Keon.
Bruins Tie Wings Late
While the New York Rangers have boasted about what a great acquisition Reg Fleming was, the Boston Bruins must be mighty satisfied with John McKenzie, the player the Rangers sent to Boston in exchange. McKenzie scored his 11th goal of the season last night in the third period with less than eight minutes to play to give the Bruins a 3-3 tie with the Detroit Red Wings.
McKenzie, a journeyman winger who was never able to find regular work with Detroit or Chicago, was traded to the Rangers in the off-season. Eleven games ago he was sent to the lowly Bruins for Fleming. Last night’s goal was his fifth since joining the Beantowners.
McKenzie’s goal capped a three-goal outburst in the final 20 minutes for Boston. John Bucyk and Tommy Williams had the other Bruin markers.
Detroit goal getters were Alex Delvecchio, Ron Murphy and Paul Henderson.
Hamilton Red Wings junior A defenseman Bart Crashley made his debut for Detroit. He was called up from Hamilton by the Wings for last night’s game and played well in limited work. He was teamed with Gary Bergman on the Detroit blue line for the first two periods, but didn’t see the ice in the final 20 minutes. He returns to the junior A ranks today.
- Chicago defenseman Pierre Pilote says it will be at least 10 days before he has the cast removed from his broken thumb.
- Buffalo Bisons goalie Roy Edwards recorded his fourth shutout of the American Hockey League season last night, blanking the San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League 5-0.
- Ken Laidlaw scored the winner as St. Catharines Black Hawks edged Toronto Marlboros 4-3 in Ontario Hockey Association Jr. A play.
- Goalie Bobby Perreault starred for the Rochester Americans as they shut out the Pittsburgh Hornets 3-0 in an AHL game in Rochester.