50 Years Ago in Hockey: Harris Reports to Amerks

Billy Harris, the slender centre demoted to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, has agreed to report to the team.  Harris did so after meeting with Toronto manager-coach Punch Imlach.

“I’m going to Rochester strictly for financial reasons.  Let’s just say I’m satisfied with the arrangement.”

Biilly Harris, right, will be joining the AHL's best goalie, Gerry Cheevers, at Rochester.
Biilly Harris, right, will be joining the AHL’s best goalie, Gerry Cheevers, at Rochester.

Harris will be paid his NHL salary while playing for Rochester, as per his contract.  While he won’t be eligible for any playoff bonuses the Leafs may earn in the post-season, he could make up to $1600  if the Amerks do well in the AHL playoffs.  Rochester is an AHL powerhouse this season and with any luck should make it to the league final.  Should the Leafs not get past the first round, Harris may be better of financially in Rochester.

Harris is looking forward to regular ice time with the Americans.  He has been used sparingly over the past several seasons and is hoping to rekindle his career with a good AHL showing.

“I feel  as if I’ve been out of competitive hockey for the past three years.”

Considered quitting

Harris considered quitting altogether when informed on Sunday that he was being sent to the farm club.  He had vowed eight years ago to never play in the minors again, but changed his mind after meeting with Imlach.  It is believed that the Leafs will make up any bonuses Harris will miss as a result of being sent out.

Imlach said that he tried to trade Harris for the past five years, but found no takers.

“Not even Boston Bruins want him.  They wouldn’t even buy him for the waiver price.

“I hate to send any player down, and I hated to send Harris because he played well for me. I’ve got no complaints about that.  But everybody says I’ve got an old club and if I’m going to work in young fellows like Stemkowski and Ellis, some older fellows have to go.”

Harris did say that he will wait to see what takes place over the summer before making up his mind about next season.  It’s certain that Imlach won’t protect him in the draft, so he will be available to any other NHL club for the $30,000 draft fee.  He made it quite clear that if no NHL team will use him, he will retire and attend the Ontario Teachers’ College.  He hopes to eventually teach physical education at a Toronto High School.

Leafs get new skates

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been fitted with their second set of skates of the season.  The person who sold the footwear to the club is  former Maple Leaf George Parsons, who played for Toronto from 1937 to 1939.  He provided some interesting facts on the feet of the Leafs.  Parsons now is a salesman for CCM, who manufacture the Tackaberry skates used by almost every pro.

CCM skate salesman played for Leafs in the 1930s.
CCM skate salesman George Parsons played for Leafs in the 1930s.


The player who wears skates out the quickest is defenceman Tim Horton.  Parsons says this is because he also wears the smallest-sized skates, at size 7.  Kent Douglas and Davey Keon also sport that smallish size.

Biggest feet on the Leafs belong to Allan Stanley, 10 1/2, and Pete Stemkowski, size 10.

Bruins call up Awrey

The Boston Bruins have called up defenceman Don Awrey from the Hershey Bears of the AHL.  He will replace injured defenceman Tom Johnson, who has been lost for the rest of the season.

Don Awrey: called up by Bruins via injury waiver.

The Bruins had to get a special injury waiver to bring up Awrey. He had been sent out to Hershey only last week, and under league rules, he must remain in the AHL for at least two weeks.  There is, however, a rules provision that allows teams to recall players under special circumstances caused by injuries and the Bruins received permission to use that waiver.

OHA action: St. Kitts whips Marlies

The St. Catharines Black Hawks ended the Toronto Marlboros first-place hopes last night with a 5-1 drubbing of the Leafs’ junior club at St. Catharines.  The Marlies’ loss guarantees the top spot in the OHA Junior A Series to the Niagara Falls Flyers.

Ken Hodge led the Hawks with two goals and two assists for a four-point evening.  Bob Sicinski also bagged a pair for St. Catharines, with Ken Laidlaw adding a single.  Paul Laurent was the lone Toronto goal-getter.  Marlboro goalkeeper Gerry Desjardins was spectacular in a losing cause, facing 46 shots, and keeping his team in the game for the first half.

The Oshawa Generals clinched fourth place with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Junior Canadiens in Oshawa.  Danny O’Shea was the hero for the Generals, as he scored three goals in his first game back after serving an 11-game suspension.  Ron Buchanan and Bobby Orr, with his 33rd of the season, were the other Oshawa marksmen.  Serge Savard and Jacques Lemaire replied for the visitors.

Danny O'Shea
Danny O’Shea

Peterborough bombed Hamilton 8-1 in the other OHA game.  Don Herriman led the way for the Petes with three goals.  Leo Thiffault netted a pair, with Gary Monahan, Steve Hunt and John Vandeberg adding the others.  Jim Young scored for Hamilton, denying a shutout bid by Petes’ netminder Chuck Goddard.