50 Years Ago in Hockey – Back for Another Season!

With Labour Day having come and gone and NHL training camps just around the corner, our daily glimpses into hockey’s glorious past are about to begin in earnest once again. For those of you new to our column, and for our readers who are familiar with us, today is sort of a primer for what we do and what you can expect this season from “50 Years Ago”.

The column is a daily accounting of happenings on that particular date 50 years ago. The articles are written from the perspective of a hockey reporter working in 1965. They are written in the journalistic style of the day, and no knowledge of future events is assumed. Today’s column will be the only one written in “2015-time”. From time to time author’s notes will be inserted to comment on events that are especially historically significant.

The information contained in the articles has been culled from many sources – principally newspapers of the day, but also include video and audio files that our research has turned up. We have also conducted player interviews with some of the stars of that era, and their accounts will also be incorporated into the columns.

Ward Cornell interviewed all of the stars of the 1950's and 60's. Here with Teeder Kennedy.
Ward Cornell interviewed all the stars of the 1950’s and 60’s. Here with Teeder Kennedy.

The 1965-66 season will be our subject matter this year. The NHL was still a six-team entity, but expansion to 12 clubs is on the horizon. The league has approved the addition of a second division, to be comprised of six new franchises. St. Louis and Los Angeles have already been approved as sites suitable for NHL teams, although no owners have yet been designated. Vancouver and San Francisco have also been deemed acceptable if they can complete NHL-calibre arenas in time.

It is hoped the new division will begin play in the 1967-68 season, and no later than 1968-69. Expansion news, talk and speculation will dominate hockey news until all the details are finally decided.

The summer of 1965 saw many changes among the NHL teams, with all clubs engaging in some good old-fashioned horse trading. Toronto and Detroit swung an eight-player deal which saw a couple of future Hall of Fame players switch teams. Star right-winger Andy Bathgate moved from the Leafs to the Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Marcel Pronovost, who had been a mainstay on the Detroit blue line for many years.

Detroit traded Marcel Pronovost (left) for Toronto's Andy Bathgate.
Detroit traded Marcel Pronovost (left) for Toronto’s Andy Bathgate.

The NHL begins the 1965-66 season with the Montreal Canadiens as the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Habs won their first Stanley Cup since 1960, taking out the Chicago Black Hawks in seven games in an exciting final series. The Detroit Red Wings were the 1964-65 regular season champs, finishing first with 87 points, four ahead of Montreal. Chicago was third, with Toronto fourth. New York and Boston once again missed the playoffs, finishing fifth and sixth.

The Red Wings also made a seven-player deal with Boston as general manager Sid Abel attempted to re-tool a first place team that disappointed in the playoffs.

Toronto sent another veteran, Ron Stewart, to Boston for three players (only one of whom would play for the Leafs). More importantly, they also lost a young goaltender named Gerry Cheevers to the Bruins in the Intra-league draft.

Gerry Cheevers, drafted by Boston when Leafs left him unprotected.
Gerry Cheevers, drafted by Boston when Leafs left him unprotected.

New York general manager Emile Francis continued his rebuild of the Rangers, and starts this season with at least three newcomers battling for the New York goalkeeping job.

Boston’s biggest move was to name Hap Emms (pictured below) as their general manager, replacing Lynn Patrick, who moved on to Los Angeles of the WHL. Emms was busy, moving players in and out at will, but whether all his changes will help the moribund Boston franchise remains to be seen.

View image | gettyimages.com

Neither Chicago nor Montreal made deals of major significance, choosing to tweak what are already strong lineups with good young players ready to advance through their systems.

Over the next little while, in advance of training camps, we’ll introduce you to the men who will coach these teams this season. We’ll also provide a bit of a preview of what to expect from each team in the way of battles for spots on the NHL rosters.

Not only will we be covering the NHL, but also we’ll report news from all levels of hockey, both professional and amateur. In order to make it a bit easier to follow along, we’ve provided a handy chart, which outlines the basic structure of the North American hockey world. Described here is each NHL club’s organizational structure, from the top minor professional hockey teams down to sponsored teams at the minor hockey level.


bruins_logo blackhawks logo 1955 - 1964 red wings logo 1948 - present Canadiens Logo 1956 - present rangers logo 1953-1968 Leafs Logo 1938 - 1963
Minor Professional Minor Professional Minor Professional Minor Professional Minor Professional Minor Professional
Hershey Bears (AHL) Buffalo Bisons (AHL) Pittsburgh Hornets (AHL) Cleveland Barons (AHL) Baltimore Clippers (AHL) Rochester Americans (AHL)
San Francisco Seals (WHL) Los Angeles Blades (WHL) Portland Buckaroos (WHL) Quebec Aces (AHL) Vancouver Canucks (WHL) Victoria Maple Leafs (WHL)
Oklahoma City Blazers (CPHL) St. Louis Braves (CPHL) Memphis Wings (CPHL) Providence Reds (AHL) Minnesota Rangers (CPHL) Tulsa Oilers (CPHL)
Seattle Totems (WHL)
Houston Apollos (CPHL)
Junior A Junior A Junior A Junior A Junior A Junior A
Niagara Falls Flyers (OHA) St. Catharines TeePees (OHA) Hamilton Red Wings (OHA) Montreal Junior Canadiens (OHA) Kitchener Rangers (OHA) Toronto Marlboros (OHA)
Oshawa Generals (OHA) Brockville Braves (CJAHL) Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) Peterborough TPT’s (OHA) Burlington Mohawks Jr. A London Nationals (OHA)
Estevan Bruins (SJHL) Sorel Eperviers (Hawks) (QJHL) Stratford Cullitons (OJHL) Kirkland Lake Legion Jr. A Three Rivers Reds Jr. A Ottawa Capitals (CJAHL)
Shawinigan Bruins (QJAHL) Saskatoon Blades (SJHL) St. Jerome Alouettes (QJHL) Verdun Maple Leafs Jr. A (QSHL) Cornwall Royals (MMJHL) Three Rivers Reds Jr. A
Winnipeg Warriors (MJHL) Sudbury Wolves (NOJHL) Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL) Maisonneuve Braves Jr. A (MMJHL) Winnipeg Rangers (MJHL) Winnipeg Monarchs (MJHL)
Winnipeg Braves (MJHL) Moose Jaw Canucks (SJHL) Fredericton Jr. Red Wings (NBSHL) Regina Pats (SJHL) Kingston Frontenacs Jr. A Calgary Buffaloes (AJHL)
Edmonton Oil Kings (CAHL) Hull Hawks Jr. A (CJAHL) Brandon Wheat Kings (MJHL) Melville Millionaires (SJHL)
North Bay Trappers (NOJHL)
Junior B Junior B Junior B Junior B Junior B Junior B
Stamford Bruins (NDJBHL) St. Catharines Falcons (GHJBHL) Lashburn Jr. B (Sask) Rosemount Jr. B Kitchener Greenshirts (CJBHL) York Steel Jr. B (MTJBHL)
Oshawa Crushmen (EOJBHL) Dixie Beehives (MTJBHL) Lachute Jr. B. (Que) Verdun Police Jr. B (MMJBHL) Markham Waxers (MTJBHL)
Waterloo Siskins (COJBHL) Sarnia Legionnaires (WOJBHL) South Side Jr. B. Red Wings (Alta) St. Laurent Jets (MMJBHL)
St. Gabriel Jr. B Regina Pats Jr. B
Saskatoon Blades Jr. B Lachine Maroons Jr. B
Sudbury Cubs Jr. B (NOJHL) Chatham Jr. B
Minor Hockey Sponsorships Minor Hockey Sponsorships Minor Hockey Sponsorships Minor Hockey Sponsorships Minor Hockey Sponsorships Minor Hockey Sponsorships
Stamford Midgets St. Catharines Lions Weyburn Midgets Regina Pats Midgets St. Marguerite Juveniles Toronto Marlboro Midgets
Estevan Midgets “Tiger” Midgets Stratford Juveniles Loisirs Juveniles Brandon Hockey Association St. Marguerite Juveniles
Oshawa Midgets Dixie Major Midgets Stratford Midgets Loisirs Midgets Calgary Stampeders Juveniles
Shawinigan Juveniles Brockville Braves Juveniles St. Jerome Alouettes Midgets Lasalle Tides Juveniles Calgary Rangers Juveniles
Shawinigan Midgets Brockville Braves Midgets Flin Flon Juveniles Chatham Juveniles
Waterloo Siskins Juveniles Sarnia Juvenile Legionnaires Flin Flon Midgets Chatham Midgets
Waterloo Siskins Midgets Sarnia Midget Legionnaires Fredericton Minor Hockey
St. Jean Painters Midgets Edmonton Universal Concrete Juveniles
Edmonton Cockshutt Arrows Midgets

The 1965-66 hockey season was a great one, and we hope you’ll enjoy our trip through time as we re-live the events from 50 years ago.