It’s been a long time coming for Dick Duff. After being traded from Toronto in 1964, and a short, but disastrous stay in New York, the veteran left winger has finally found his lost scoring touch. And he did it on the weekend of his 30th birthday.
Five Goals on the Weekend
Duff scored five times on the weekend to lead the Canadiens to a pair of wins. Saturday night he scored three times in a fourteen minute span in the second period as the Habs downed the Chicago Black Hawks 5-2. He added two more goals Sunday evening in New York as Montreal skated off with a 5-3 win over the Rangers.
In other weekend action, Toronto lost twice. They dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rangers at home on Saturday and then lost4-1 Sunday evening in Detroit. The weekend’s other games saw Chicago rebound from their loss Saturday night to whip the Bruins 5-1 on Sunday while Boston dumped their trade buddies, the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 on Saturday.
Duff’s scoring exploits came at a great time for Canadiens. Locked in a first-place battle with Chicago, Montreal now is just two points behind the first-place Hawks. The Red Wings have fallen two back of the Habs. Toronto’s two losses now has them eight points out of third place.
Duff had gone six games without a goal going into the Chicago game. He had 10 on the year, and was not happy with his production. He played like a man possessed against the Hawks, and with any luck around the net, he could have scored six times.
It was the second career hat trick for the Kirkland Lake native. His first also came against the Hawks, in his second year in Toronto.
The two wins for Montreal may have come with a cost. Goalie Gump Worsley left the game Saturday evening suffering from dizzy spells. He has been hospitalized for observation until club physicians can determine the cause of his illness. Carl Wetzel has been brought in from Quebec of the American Hockey League to back up Charlie Hodge until the Gumper can return.
Punch Not Happy
Meanwhile, Toronto coach Punch Imlach didn’t hide his frustration with his charges in a weekend where uninspired play was the Leafs’ trademark. Of their game against the Rangers Saturday, he would only say
They played like a bunch of girls.
The only bright spot of that game was Eddie Shack’s 20th goal. That marked the first time Shack has reached that plateau and it may have him in line for some bonus money. Trouble for Eddie is, he isn’t even sure what bonus clauses are in his contract.
Shack was in Rochester’s camp in September when he finally signed his contract. At the time, he told Amerks general manager-coach Joe Crozier just to make the contract up the same as the previous year’s. If that is the case, Fast Eddie gets $500 for 15 goals and $100 for each goal thereafter.
The Leafs used rookie goalie Gary Smith for all but about five minutes of the two weekend games. Smith was in due to injuries to incumbents Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower. Marlboros’ goaltender Al Smith was recalled to back up the elder Smith. He went in for the final five minutes against the Red Wings.
The elongated Gary Smith has proven to be quite the showman. Saturday night he created a buzz among the more than 14,000 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens by taking the puck and skating to centre ice. Toronto lost possession when he dumped it into the Ranger zone, but he returned to the Leaf net before any damage was done.
Selke to Clarify NHL Expansion
Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Frank Selke is headed to Vancouver. He is job will be to explain the rationale behind the National Hockey League’s decision to exclude the city from the league’s planned expansion to 12 teams. It had been widely thought that Vancouver’s NHL franchise was a sure thing.
Canadiens president David Molson said that Selke is going to Vancouver at the request of officers of the Pacific National Exhibition to explain why the Vancouver bid failed. He goes with the blessing of the Montreal club.
It’s not clear exactly what message will be delivered to the Vancouver people. Last week NHL president Clarence Campbell said that it’s not likely that Vancouver will get into the NHL for at least 10 years. Toronto Maple Leafs president Stafford Smythe said that the folks in Vancouver had set themselves back for at least a generation, at least as far as an NHL franchise is concerned.
Molson, however, said that part of Selke’s mission to the west coast is to advise the PNE officials on how to best prepare for another expansion franchise bid, possibly within the next two years. Mixed signals seem to be what the NHL is best at these days.
Orr Sets New Record
Bobby Orr, the soon to be 18-year-old whiz kid of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A league has set another record.
Orr scored a goal in the Generals’ 4-4 tie with Montreal Junior Canadiens Saturday night. It was his 35th of the season, a new record for Junior A defenders. He has added 54 assists in 42 games played. Last year he had 34 goals and 56 assists while playing all 56 of his team’s games. He is third in the OHA scoring race. Team mates Andre Lacroix and Danny Grant of Peterborough occupy the top two spots.
Hull Still Leads Scorers
Chicago Black Hawks superstar Bobby Hull continues to lead the National Hockey League scoring derby. Hull has 47 goals and 30 assists for 77 points. That’s 13 points better than Detroit’s Norm Ullman. Ullman has 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. Hull’s team mate Stan Mikita is two back of Ullman. Gordie Howe of Detroit has quietly moved up into fourth place with 60.
Gump Worsley and Charley Hodge of the Montreal Canadiens lead the Vezina Trophy race with a combined goals-against average of 2.57. Detroit’s combination of Roger Crozier and Hank Bassen are next with 2.64.
- The semi-pro International Hockey League is now considering expansion. Cities on their list include Kansas City, Omaha, Columbus and Waterloo, Iowa.
- Weston peewees of the Toronto Hockey League are the grand champions of the Quebec International PeeWee Tournament. Their three top players are goalie Jim Pettie and forwards Tom Colley and Peter Marrin.
- Terry Sawchuk says he and Johnny Bower have been replaced by “a couple of cough drops.” He refers to the popular throat lozenges “Smith Brothers Cough Drops” and the two rookie goalies that took over for the Leafs injured veteran netminders. Gary Smith was up from Rochester of the AHL and the Leafs enlisted Al Smith of the Junior A Marlboros as his backup.
- Hamilton Red Wings’ Gary Marsh scored four goals as they drubbed the Toronto Marlboros 5-0 in OHA Junior A play.
- Ranger Rod Gilbert’s back surgery was a success. He is now resting comfortably at his Montreal home. New York general manager Emile Francis says the young star will be good as new in time for training camp in September.
- Cooney Weiland, former Boston Bruins legend now coaching at Harvard University, suspended three players on the weekend for fighting. Weiland says that fighting has no part in the modern hockey game.
- Chicago Black Hawks co-owner James Norris is in hospital. He is reported to be in satisfactory condition as he undergoes treatment for a heart ailment.
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.