The Stanley Cup Final opens tonight in Montreal with the Detroit Red Wings visiting the Montreal Canadiens. The oddsmakers have installed the Habs as five to two favourites to capture the Stanley Cup. They are also rated 13-5 favourites to win game one.
The logic behind the setting of those odds is clear. Montreal was consistently good all season, especially down the stretch, and finished strongly in first place. They disposed of the Maple Leafs in four straight games in the semi-final, and gave no indication that any other team in the league would fare any better against them. And, the Habs are as healthy as they were going into the Toronto series.
Wings Win Doesn’t Convince Bettors
Detroit took out Chicago, somewhat surprisingly, in six games. But the Wings sputtered over the final third of the season, and could rise to no better than fourth place. They caught the Black Hawks at a perfect time. Chicago was completely spent after fighting hard for first place, both emotionally and physically, and it showed against the Red Wings. They were outmuscled by the normally genteel Wings.
Detroit coach Sid Abel says he will likely use the same roughhouse tactics that worked so well on Chicago. Unfortunately for the Wings, there is not one huge star upon which Detroit checkers can focus. The Canadians boast a very balanced lineup, including three first-rate centres. That depth on the third line will prove to be the difference in the series.
One area where the Wings may have a slight edge is in goal. Although Canadiens’ Gump Worsley was this year’s winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top netminder, Detroit’s Roger Crozier was brilliant against Chicago and is on a roll. He will have to continue his outstanding play if the Wings are to have any shot at dethroning the defending champs.
Some wags have pronounced the Wings as having a decided advantage because they played two Sunday afternoon games on the blue-tinted ice under the intense lighting required by the NBC colour telecasts. Montreal coach Toe Blake dismisses the notion as the Canadiens practised yesterday:
“The goalies seem to be the only ones worried about the lights. So they better look at the lights now, not during the game.”
Abel plans a couple of player changes for game one. He hinted that young defenseman Bob Wall and veteran winger Parker MacDonald may be inserted back into the lineup. Irv Spencer and as yet unnamed player would sit out.
In yesterday’s practice in Detroit, the ice in the Olympia was so bad that Abel ordered Crozier to wear a mask. He didn’t want a stray shot off the soft surface coming up and injuring his star netminder.
Bud Poile Quits Seals; Pilous Next GM?
Norman (Bud) Poile, general manager of the San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League and slated to remain in that spot when the team moved to the National Hockey League, announced his resignation from the team yesterday. Poile says he is leaving because ownership of the team wants to promote him to an executive vice-president position. The resignation takes effect at the end of the current season. Seals are presently in a playoff series against the Victoria Maple Leafs.
Poile explained why he declined the promotion:
“They offered me a vice-presidency and I wanted to be general manager. I don’t want to get away from direct management of a hockey club. We are parting on very friendly terms. It’s just a different viewpoint. I had to leave.
“Naturally I expected to manage the big-league entry. I’ve served a 14-year apprenticeship in the minors so I’m more than ready for the NHL. The best way to get lost is as a vice-president.”
Poile said that he had submitted the resignation some time ago, but wanted to keep things quiet until the Seals had finished the playoffs. The series with Victoria is tied at two games apiece.
Many hockey people feel that Poile’s successor is already in place. Rumours that Hamilton Red Wings Junior A coach and general manager Rudy Pilous is slated to take over in San Francisco and some say a four-year contract has already been signed. Dick Beddoes of the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that a source in San Francisco had virtually guaranteed it:
“Bet all the tea in China on it. Pilous will be here to manage the Seals in the Western League next season, then manage and coach the team when it joins the NHL in 1967-68.”
Beddoes went on to say that Pilous would just manage the Seals next year, leaving the coaching to incumbent Charlie Burns, who also plays. Pilous coached the Chicago Black Hawks for five years from 1957-58 to 1962-63, winning the Stanley Cup in 1961.
Favell Joins Seals
The Seals have also recalled goalie Doug Favell from the Oklahoma City Blazers of the CPHL. The Blazers won the CPHL title this week, ending their season and making the St. Catharines, Ontario native available for the WHL playoffs.
Favell will start in goal for the Seals in tonight’s fifth game of their semi-final series. Regular goalie Jack McCartan is still out with a bum knee. WHL emergency goalie Marcel Pelletier was in goal for both Seals’ wins against Victoria. Amateur Bob Gray was the goalie for the game one loss.
- Red Wings defenseman Leo Boivin says that the late-season trade from Boston to Detroit was more than welcome. He was planning on asking for a trade from the Bruins at the end of the season.
- Jim Proudfoot of the Toronto Star says Red Kelly of the Maple Leafs won’t be retiring. He has a contract for next season.
- Proudfoot also says that Jack Riley, president of the American Hockey League, will step down from the post to take over the new Pittsburgh entry in the NHL’s expansion division.
- Proudfoot also says that Ted Lindsay could wind up with one of the new franchises.
- Dink Carroll of the Montreal Gazette says to expect wholesale changes with the Chicago Black Hawks. He reports that Elmer Vasko and Al MacNeil likely won’t return to the Hawks next year and even Stan Mikita may be traded.
- Vancouver Canucks took a 3-2 lead in their WHL playoff series with Portland last night. The Canucks whipped the Buckaroos 5-1 at home in Vancouver. Defenseman Larry Cahan of the Canucks had an assist to set a WHL record for defensemen with 10 helpers in one playoff year. It took him only five games to set the mark.