The Chicago Black Hawks and Boston Bruins were winners as the National Hockey League opened its 50th season on two fronts last night. Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita scored two goals each to lead Chicago past the New York Rangers 6-3 at Madison Square Garden. Rookie defenseman Bobby Orr not only lived up to but exceeded expectations as the Bruins dumped the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 in Boston.
Hull’s Fast Start
In New York, it didn’t take long for Hull to serve notice on the rest of the NHL that he fully intends to commit another assault on the NHL record book this season. The Golden Jet scored on his first shot at 3:24 of the first period. He beat Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin on a Chicago power play. Pierre Pilote gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead about four minutes later and the Rangers were never able to recover.
Stan Mikita also scored twice for Chicago, adding two assists for a four-point night. Chico Maki had the other Chicago marker. Don Marshall netted a pair of goals for the Rangers, with Vic Hadfield adding the third.
Chicago outshot New York 37-22 on the night. Giacomin put in a valiant performance for the Rangers despite little support. Denis DeJordy was solid in goal for the Hawks. DeJordy will see the bulk of work for the Black Hawks with Glenn Hall still at home in Alberta.
Orr Lives Up to Hype
A teenager and a coaching neophyte both made their NHL debuts in Boston’s lopsided win over the Red Wings at Boston Garden. Orr, the heralded rookie defender billed as the saviour of the long-time moribund Boston franchise drew raves from all who witnessed his first professional game. Orr played with poise and confidence that belied his status as a first-time pro. He was a stalwart defensively and at times was the director of the Boston attack.
Bruins great Milt Schmidt was lavish in his praise of the youngster:
What more can you say about an 18-year-old who blocks shots the way he did? And did you notice how smart he is?
When he had nobody to pass to to get the puck out of his own end, he nonchalantly flipped it into centre ice instead of icing it.
Orr even got onto the scoresheet when he set up Wayne Connelly’s goal early in the second period. The announcement of Orr’s assist prompted a huge ovation from the Boston crowd. They recognized that they were quite likely watching history being made.
Despite the calm demeanour he exhibited on the ice, Orr admitted to being very nervous before the game. He said that once play was under way, he didn’t have time to think about being nervous. In fact, the only mistake the kid made all night came after the game. During a dressing room interview, young Orr dropped a bottle of pop and the glass shattered all over the floor. During the meeting with reporters, Orr had this to say:
We’ve got a long way to go. Things will get tougher, I just know it. You take older guys like Gordie Howe, they’re not in shape yet. We’re a younger time so it doesn’t take as much time to get into condition.
Orr laughed when asked about earning his first NHL point:
I looked terrible. I was trying to put it in myself and I fanned on the shot.
Perhaps the best assessment of Orr’s debut was the succinct comment from Bruins general manager Hap Emms:
He’s a National Leaguer.
Johnny McKenzie was the top Boston scorer with two goals and an assist. Other goals came from Connelly, Murray Oliver, Pit Martin and Ron Schock. Murray Hall and Andy Bathgate replied for the Wings.
The solid Bruins performance made a winner out of the NHL’s youngest coach, Harry Sinden. Sinden ran a tight, organized bench and was able to keep his team moving all night.
Habs Rout Aces in Final Exhibition
While the NHL was holding two opening games, the Montreal Canadiens played one more exhibition game. Before a smallish throng of 2500 at the Forum, the Canadiens trounced the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League 10-3. Former Aces forward Leon Rochefort paced the Montreal offence with three goals. Jean Beliveau added two goals, with singletons coming from Gilles Tremblay, Dave Balon, J.C. Tremblay, Terry Harper and John Ferguson.
Jean Guy Gendron, Bill Sutherland and Rene Drolet counted for the Aces.
Hershey Hits Hornets
In the American Hockey League’s only game last night, the Hershey Bears ended the Pittsburgh Hornets three-game winning streak. The Bears skated to a 5-2 home-ice decision on the strength of two goals within 34 seconds of the second stanza. Gene Ubriaco scored two for Hershey, with Bud Debrody, Roger DeJordy, and Wayne Rivers netting one each. Brent Hughes and Ted Taylor connected for the Wasps.
Hershey’s backup goalie Andre Gill made 27 saves filling in for starter Claude Dufour.
Victoria Still Undefeated
The Victoria Maple Leafs blanked the Portland Buckaroos 5-0 at Victoria to remain the Western Hockey League’s only unbeaten team. Rookie goalie Al Smith made 24 saves to record the shutout. His offensive support consisted of goals from Milan Marcetta, Steve Witiuk, Bruce Carmichael, Andy Hebenton and Neil Clarke.
- The NHL board of governors will meet in New York this week to discuss the Carl Brewer situation and receive a progress report from the expansion committee.
- Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier has signed a 4-year contract.
- Former Toronto Marlboro defenceman Doug Dunville, who was at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp, has signed with the Varsity Grads, a new team in the Ontario Hockey Association Senior A league.
- Five Toronto players are still unsigned and might miss Toronto’s opening game Saturday night. Bob Baun was rumoured to have inked a deal but refused to confirm. The other holdouts are Frank Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Dave Keon and Eddie Shack.
- California Seals of the WHL admitted they are talking trade with the Portland Buckaroos. Seals recently received defenceman Al Langlois from the Boston Bruins, so they have an extra player. Utility man Tom Thurlby is the player in whom Portland is most interested.
- St. Louis Blues are looking at putting a Central Professional Hockey League farm team in Kansas City for next season.
- Rochester Americans coach-GM Joe Crozier says he made a three-for-one offer to the Providence Reds for forward Jim Mikol. Reds turned down the offer.
- Baltimore Clippers of the AHL were strengthened yesterday when the parent New York Rangers sent them F Bill Collins and D Bob Plager.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.