Montreal Canadiens general manager Sam Pollock, in his first year on the job and faced with the prospect of being without left winger Gilles Tremblay for the rest of the 1964-65 season, acted swiftly and decisively yesterday to short up his club’s forward unit.
Bill Hicke goes to the Rangers
Pollock has acquired former Toronto left winger Dick Duff from the New York Rangers in a four-player trade. The Canadiens sent disappointing winger Billy Hicke, now with Cleveland of the American Hockey League, and minor league goaltender Jean-Guy Morrisette to the Rangers in exchange for Duff and minor league forward Dave McComb. Duff is expected to suit up for the Canadiens Wednesday evening when they face the Rangers at the Forum.
Duff was a mainstay and huge crowd favourite with the Toronto Maple Leafs from the time he joined the Leafs right out of junior hockey until he was traded to the Rangers in February in the deal that sent Andy Bathgate to Toronto. His best season was in 1958-59 when he scored 29 goals. He has never scored less than 16 goals in a season and has always been a key contributor in the playoffs, earning a reputation as a ‘money player’. He hasn’t seemed to be too enthralled with playing in New York and Pollock believes that a new start in Montreal is just what the 5-9 left winger needs.
Hicke came to the Canadiens after a stellar junior career with the Regina Pats followed by a dominant season with Rochester in the AHL. He was promoted to the Habs part-way through the 1959-60 season and had his best season in 1961-62, scoring 20 goals. He has never quite lived up to expectations and this season his play fell off so badly he was dispatched to Cleveland to try and find his game.
Morrisette is considered a fine netminding prospect by Montreal coach Toe Blake. He has been with the Cleveland Barons this season as well and and will likely remain in the minors, since the Rangers already are using Jacques Plante and Marcel Paille in goal.
McComb is a tall, slightly built forward who was with St. Paul of the Central Professional Hockey League. He’ll probably be re-assigned to the Montreal farm team at Omaha in the same loop.
The Canadiens had been trying to acquire Duff from Toronto for several seasons, but just wouldn’t surrender the pieces that Toronto manager Punch Imlach considered to be equal value. With Tremblay’s injury, Pollock pushed a little harder for a deal with the Rangers. It’s thought that the inclusion of the young goalkeeper Morrisette was the addition that convinced Ranger general manager Emile Francis to pull the trigger on the trade.
Duff is expect to line up with Jean Beliveau, who lately hasn’t had much support from his wingers. Forward Keith McCreary, who had replaced Tremblay in a game earlier this week, is likely earmarked to return to Cleveland.
Molson: Habs ready to meet Russians
The Montreal Canadiens are ready to play Russia’s national team, just not any time during the regular NHL schedule, according to team president David Molson. Molson believes that some day the Stanley Cup will truly represent world hockey supremacy.
“I firmly believe it has to work itself out. There is still plenty of room for the National Hockey League to expand in North America, but it shouldn’t stop there. I’ll be very sorry if it doesn’t expand to Europe.”
Russian coach Anatoli Tarasov has said that his team wants to play an NHL team immediately – “tomorrow if it can be arranged.”
Toronto and Montreal have declined the challenge, but the Leafs have challenged the Russians to play their Rochester AHL club. The Quebec Aces of the AHL have also challenged the Russians.
Molson told the Soviets that “we’d be pleased to accommodate them any time. Our first obligations are to the National Hockey League.”
The Monteal team president went on to say, “I told them we’d be pleased to play them in Moscow or right here in the Forum. The best time for us would probably be just before the season starts.”
Molson also said that any contest between his team and the Russians would be played under NHL rules.
“That’s our policy right now. This is our game and if we’re going to be challenged, then I think it’s only right that the champion (the NHL) should name his game.”