The New York Rangers and Chicago Black Hawks pulled off the biggest trade during the 1964-65 hockey season when they swapped eight players in early February. The two teams were at it again yesterday when they consummated a six-player exchange.
Emile Francis, who became the New York general manager part-way through the season, lived up to his promise to bring in young players and make whatever moves he deemed necessary to maximize his club’s chances at making the playoffs. Yesterday, he picked up right-winger Johnny McKenzie, 27, and centre Ray Cullen, 23, from Chicago, sending four players to the Second City. Going to the Black Hawks are forwards Dick Meissner, Mel Pearson and Dave Richardson, and defencemen Tracy Pratt .
McKenzie is the only player in the deal who was close to an NHL regular last year. After starting the year with St. Louis of the CPHL, he was called up to Chicago after five games. He appeared in 51 contests for the Hawks, scoring eight goals and 10 assists. He began his career with Chicago in the 1958-59 season, but was drafted by Detroit in the intra-league draft in 1959. He was traded back to Chicago by the Wings with forward Len Lunde for defenceman Doug Barkley.
While McKenzie is the most experienced player going to New York, Cullen is like the key player for Francis. The younger brother of former NHL’ers Brian and Barry Cullen, Ray had a stellar junior career with the St. Catharines Teepees, winning the Memorial Cup in 1960. This past season was spent with Buffalo of the AHL, where he scored 28 times and added 36 assists.
Pratt, who is only 22, was likely Chicago general manager Tommy Ivan’s main target in the deal. He is the son of legendary defenceman Walter (Babe) Pratt, who starred for New York and Toronto in the 1930s and 1940s before a short stint with Boston at the end of his career. He spent last season with St. Paul Rangers of the CPHL, where he showed surprising offence, scoring 15 goals and 24 assists, while putting up 200 penalty minutes. He is the rough-and-tumble blueliner the Hawks believe they have lacked.
Meissner, 25, is a veteran of 171 NHL games, mostly with the Boston Bruins. He played one game for the Rangers in 64-65, spending the rest of the year with Baltimore of the AHL. He had a good year for the Clippers, putting up 35 goals, 42 assists for 77 points.
Pearson and Richardson appear to be little more than throw-ins. Pearson has bounced around the Ranger organization for the past few seasons, the past one spent at St. Paul. He played well in the CPHL, scoring 24 goals, and had a five-game trial with the Rangers, where he failed to register a point. Richardson played for St. Paul for most of the season, with cups of coffee in Baltimore and New York. He did play 34 games for the Rangers in 1963-64, scoring three goals and one assist.
Stewart on the block
Toronto Maple Leaf general manager Punch Imlach confirmed yesterday that veteran forward Ron Stewart will most likely be traded before the NHL summer meetings begin on Monday. Imlach said that the both Boston and New York have expressed interest in the 13-year Maple Leaf, but the offers were not impressive.
“I’ve talked with New York and Boston and they haven’t offered me anything in return. Another team is also interested. Right now I’d be smarter to take the $30,000 draft price rather than the deals that have been proposed.”
Stewart does have a bit of a connection with new Boston general manager Hap Emms, for whom he played junior with the Barrie Flyers for part of the 1951-52 season.
Imlach has some serious numbers problems to deal with before the annual intra-league draft. Each team can protect 18 skaters and two goalkeepers. With several young players starring at Toronto farms clubs in Rochester and Tulsa, it may be time for Imlach to say good-bye to several of his senior citizens whose best days have long passed.
The most interesting scenario is developing in goal, where the Leafs must choose to expose one of Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk or highly touted Gerry Cheevers to the draft. Imlach knows he will lose a goalie, as Emms has gone on record saying he will take whichever goaltender is exposed by Toronto.
Bing Crosby, hockey fan and possible owner?
Famous crooner Bing Crosby is the head of a syndicate that has been organized with the intention of securing a National Hockey League franchise for the city of San Francisco. The syndicate is one of two groups who will fight over a proposed expansion franchise for the Bay Area.
Crosby’s group includes Barend van Gerbig of New York City. He is a former Princeton University hockey player, who had a brief (two-game) career with the Charlotte Checkers of the EHL in 1961-62. Van Gerbig called a press conference on Thursday to announce that he and Crosby “have reason to believe we have pretty good support in the league.”
Van Gerbig said that if the group is awarded the franchise, Crosby would have controlling interest in the team. Van Gerbig is known to have a long-time friendship with William Jennings of the Rangers, one of the NHL’s more influential governors. That connection could give the Crosby group a leg up on the group let by Mel Swig, owner of the Western Hockey League’s San Francisco Seals.
Swig’s group firmly believes their experience running the Seals in the WHL makes them far better qualified to operate an NHL franchise in the Bay Area.
- Toronto Maple Leafs announced they will once again train in Peterborough, Ontario. The month-long camp will begin on September 16. Toronto has held their training camp in Peterborough for the past seven years.
- Former Leaf Andy Bathgate and partner Dalton MacArthur, former NHL referee, are now renting apartments in the 47-unit building they own in Brampton.
- Leaf defenceman Carl Brewer will be working with the Eastview YMCA sports camp, starting in July. Brewer will run hockey clinics for boys ages 8 – 11.
- Newly acquired Toronto left-winger Larry Jeffrey, who has battled injuries throughout his NHL career, has been given a clean bill of health after a complete physical by Leaf doctors.
- Bernard (Boom-Boom) Geoffrion has signed on to coach the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League for another season.
- Scotty Bowman has been re-signed for a second season as coach of the Montreal Junior Canadiens of the OHA Junior A Series.
- Officials of the American and Western Hockey Leagues will meet Monday to discuss a mild form of amalgamation. Under a new working agreement, the teams would play an interlocking schedule, and may even stage a playoff to declare one champion for hockey’s two top minor leagues.