Whispers out of New York and Toronto over the past two days have the Maple Leafs and Rangers discussing a possible trade that would send disgruntled Toronto defenseman Bobby Baun to the New York Rangers.
While several versions of the supposed transaction have been floating around, the consensus seems to have Toronto shipping Baun and Eddie Shack to the Rangers for Vic Hadfield and former Leaf Bob Nevin, who is the Rangers captain.
As usual with any deal that has not been officially consummated, both clubs either denied refused to comment on the speculation.
Punch Imlach, Toronto general manager was brief when asked about the possibility of Baun going to New York:
“No comment. I never comment on trade rumours.”
Ranger general manager Emile Francis denied that a deal was imminent.
“It can’t be true because I haven’t heard a thing about it. Any team in the National Hockey League would be interested in Baun, but at what price?”
Baun left the Maple Leafs training camp last Saturday after negotiations with Imlach broke down. Imlach has refused to comment on the situation, although he did say that for next Wednesday’s All-Star game, he would be sending Marcel Pronovost to replace Baun. That would suggest that Imlach does not expect Baun to agree to terms any time before then.
Jennings Says NHL Ready to Name Four Franchises
New York Rangers president William Jennings says that the league expansion committee, of which he is chair, has determined four cities that are most likely to be awarded expansion franchises. The likely destinations are Baltimore, Vancouver, Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Francisco. They will join Los Angeles and St. Louis, who have already been approved by the league as acceptable cities.
“I envision that we will approve other cities and start issuing franchises next week. At any rate, I think we’ll know the makeup of the new division by the end of this year.”
Jennings said that the league is aiming for a 1967-68 season start for the new division. This will be the first change in the structure of hockey’s major league since 1942 when the Brooklyn Americans were disbanded to begin the Six-Team Era.
Jennings said that he was in favour of granting franchises to Baltimore and Minneapolis-St. Paul pending a final check of their arenas to make sure they meet league standards. He also said that a new rink is being built in Oakland and Vancouver’s new arena should be ready by March of 1967.
Leafs Shuffle Farm Hands
The Maple Leafs moved some minor league bodies around yesterday as the AHL Rochester Americans prepare to open their season.
Centre Peter Stemkowski and left wing Brian Conacher were dispatched to Rochester. Both have been with the Leafs throughout training camp. Stemkowski just wasn’t able to crack the Toronto lineup at centre, with Red Kelly, Dave Keon and Bob Pulford ahead of him. Conacher has been ill and also had some minor injuries and just hasn’t had time to get in shape.
Conacher will replace injured winger Lowell MacDonald with the Amerks. Stemkowski will take the place of centre Bronco Horvath, who has a couple of broken fingers.
Also going to Rochester are veterans Gerry Ehman and Darryl Sly, who have been with parent club for the past three days. In addition, veteran Eddie Litzenberger, who was a mainstay with Rochester last season, heads west to Victoria of the WHL.
With Baun, Carl Brewer and Tim Horton still unsigned, there is a strong possibility that the Leafs will have to recall three defenders for the season opener. Sly is a strong candidate to return to the big club. Two other veterans with some NHL experience, Aut Erickson and Marc Reaume, are named by sources close to the club as the likely replacements for the holdouts. Erickson is with Victoria while Reaume is at Tulsa of the CPHL.
Rangers, Wings in Stalemate.
Billy Hicke scored two goals to lead the New York Rangers attack as they battled to a 4-4 tie with the Detroit Red Wings. Don Marshall and Rod Gilbert had the other Ranger goals. Andy Bathgate, Billy Harris, Norm Ullman and Gordie Howe were the Detroit marksmen.
After the game, the Red Wings announced that Bathgate, Harris and Don McKenney had signed their 1965-66 contracts.
Habs Farm Out Three
The Montreal Canadiens sent three players to Cleveland Barons of the AHL yesterday. Goalie Ernie Wakely and wingers Tom McCarthy and Keith McCreary will go to the Barons. All three showed well in camp and are subject to immediate recall.
In a separate transaction, Canadiens traded Wayne Shulz and Dave McComb to the Barons for Wayne Larkin. Larkin was then sent on loan to the Providence Reds of the AHL.