50 Years Ago in Hockey – Crozier wins Calder

When the Detroit Red Wings allowed Terry Sawchuk to be drafted last summer by the Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey people everywhere scoffed at Sid Abel’s idea that 22-year-old Roger Crozier would be an adequate replacement.  Those predictions of doom and gloom in Detroit proved to be nothing but poppycock and that was confirmed yesterday as Crozier was named the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy as National Hockey League rookie-of-the-year.

Roger Crozier
Roger Crozier

Crozier received 155 points, compared to 107 for Toronto Maple Leafs fine young winger Ron Ellis.

No goalie played more

The slightly built, acrobatic Crozier was full value for the award.  He played more games than any other netminder in the NHL, 69.5.  He also led the loop in shutouts with six.  His goals-against average of 2.42 was just shy of being good enough to win the Vezina Trophy, which he lost on the final day of the season.

Winning the trophy provides the youngster with a cash bonus of $1,500.  This consists of $1,000 for being the overall winner, as well as $250 for leading the voting during both halves of the season.

Other Calder vote-getters

Ellis will receive $500 for finishing second.  Denis DeJordy of Chicago was third in the voting with 29 points.  Others receiving votes were Rod Seiling of the Rangers (11 points), Fred Stanfield of Chicago (5), Yvan Cournoyer of Montreal (4), Peter Stemkowski, Toronto (3), Bob Woytowich, Boston, Doug Jarrett, Chicago, Matt Ravlich, Chicago and Ted Harris, Montreal with two each.  Arnie Brown of the Rangers had one point.

Ron Ellis finished second in the Calder voting.


Started with St. Catharines

Crozier began his journey to the NHL with the St. Catharines TeePees of the OHA Junior A series in 1959-60 after playing intermediate hockey in Bracebridge at age 16.  He won the Memorial Cup that year as a rookie in the OHA.

After turning pro with the St. Louis Braves of the Central Professional Hockey League in 1962-63 he was dealt by the parent Chicago Black Hawks to the Red Wings in one of Abel’s most cunning trades.  The Red Wings sent Howie Young to the Black Hawks for Crozier and defenseman Ron Ingram.

Crozier gave the Wings a vivid preview of what he was capable the next season with Pittsburgh of the American Hockey League.  He won both the Harry “Hap” Holmes Trophy as the top AHL goaltender, and the Dudley “Red” Garrett Trophy as the AHL rookie-of-the-year.

Jimmy McFadden: first Detroit Calder winner.
Jimmy McFadden: first Detroit Calder winner.


Fourth Red Wing Calder winner

Crozier is the fourth Red Wing to claim the Calder.  Jimmy McFadden took it home in 1947-48.  He was followed by Terry Sawchuk in 1950-51 and Glenn Hall in 1955-56.

Crozier is one of only three men to win the rookie award and make the all-star team in the same year.  The other two, also goalkeepers, are Sawchuk and Frank Brimsek of the Boston Bruins.  Brimsek turned the trick in the 1938-39 season.

Frank Brimsek
Frank Brimsek

Roger is currently vacationing and will receive the award some time this fall.  He plans to run a hockey school this summer in his home town.

Aside from the hardware he earned, all the accolades Crozier received contributed quite nicely to his bank account.  In addition to the Calder money, he picked up $1,750 for his all-star nomination, $500 for finishing second in the Vezina race, and $2,250 for his share of the money awarded to members of the first-place team in the regular NHL schedule.

That amounts to a cool $7,000 over and above his regular NHL salary.  Not a bad haul for a 23-year-old from Bracebridge.

Abel stays on

Sid Abel confirmed yesterday that he will stay on as coach and general manager of the Red Wings.  Abel made the statement to dispel rumours that he was about to announce his retirement.

“Contrary to those rumours which you may have read or heard during the past couple of weeks, I intend to remain as coach and general manager of the Red Wings.

Sid Abel with his two star forwards, Gord Howe and Alex Delvecchio

“I intend to continue the operation of the Red Wings as it’s been done during the past season.  Bill Gadsby, Gord Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Marcel Pronovost will be my assistant coaches.  They’ll handle the club in practices when my other job as general manager prevents me from attending the workouts.

“At the moment I’m looking forward to the NHL draft meeting in June.  I intend to have a series of meetings with our chief scout Jim Skinner  and Baz Bastien (general manager of the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets).  We’ll assess all the talent in our organization before going to Montreal in four weeks’ time,” Abel said.

“We have weaknesses and naturally we hope to correct them.  We don’t intend to stand pat.  I hope to have a Stanley Cup winner for you by this time next year”  he concluded.

While nothing, of course, is confirmed by the team, rumours around the press conference had Abel talking to Boston and Toronto about potential deals.  It’s known Abel would like to spread the offence a little more evenly throughout the top three forward lines, while bringing in some younger players.  He also would like a little more toughness on the blue line.  It’s not likely he wants to move any of the core leadership group he mentioned as his assistants.

At the same press conference, Bruce Norris, owner of the team, outlined a planned expansion to the Olympia Stadium.   The $1,500,000 project will increase the arena’s seating capacity to 16,375, second largest in the NHL.