The National Hockey League’s annual conclave began in Montreal yesterday with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins kicking things off with the first trade of the meetings. In a three-for-one exchange, 13-year veteran Toronto forward Ron Stewart moves to Boston for Pat Stapleton, Andy Hebenton and Orland Kurtenbach.
Deal no surprise
The trade of Stewart came as no surprise to Toronto fans. Leaf general manager Punch Imlach had earlier declared that Stewart would either be dealt or exposed in the intra-league draft. Two clubs were very interested in the versatile right-winger, but the Bruins outbid the New York Rangers.
Stewart has been a dependable performer for the Maple Leafs since making his debut in the 1952-53 season. He has spent most of his career on right wing, but has also played a considerable amount on defence. Last season he scored 16 goals and 11 assists for 27 points in 65 games. He was also known as the Leafs’ resident comedian.
Toronto picks up three players, but only one saw NHL action in 1964-65. Orland Kurtenbach, in his second full season with the Bruins scored six goals and added 20 assists. He is known more for his defensive abilities, and he also has a reputation as a very tough man in a fight.
Stapleton and Hebenton both spent the past season with Portland Buckaroos of the Western Hockey League. splitting time between defence, his natural position, and centre, Stapleton was the winner of the Hal Laycoe Cup as the loop’s best defenceman. He scored 29 goals and added 57 assists for 86 points. Hebenton, the holder of the NHL’s iron-man record of playing in 630 consecutive games, had 34 goals and 40 assists for the Buckaroos.
Most observers feel that Imlach, with his penchant for reclamation projects, will find a spot for Hebenton with the Leafs. Stapleton,25, looks to be ready to make the step up to Toronto, but the Leafs will have to get him through the draft first. HIs stellar WHL season may make him attractive to teams looking for help on defence.
Jacques Plante, goalkeeper of the New York Rangers and a certain Hockey Hall of Famer, announced his retirement from the game yesterday. Plante, who is 36, said that his retirement had nothing to do with a recent knee surgery he underwent four weeks ago. He said his injured knee was just fine.
Knees not an issue
“My knee feels better than it has in years, actually. I feel sorry to quit because life is easy for goalkeepers now., Every team carries two.
“I thought about retiring from time to time but I only made up my mind about a week ago. I have two boys, one 10 and one 14, and I thought it was about time I stayed at home with them.”
Plante spent the bulk of his career with the Montreal Canadiens and is a six-time winner of the Vezina Trophy. Five of those awards were won consecutively, and he is the only man to accomplish that feat.
He was traded to the Rangers in the seven-player deal in June of 1963 that saw goalie Gump Worsley head to Montreal. He complained of knee troubles this past season and spent time in the AHL with the Baltimore Clippers. He got into 33 games with the Rangers, sharing the work with another veteran, Marcel Paille. Paille was traded to Providence of the AHL a couple of weeks ago by the Rangers.
Jack Adams, former Detroit Red Wing general manager and coach, and now president of the CPHL, had high praise for Plante:
“Plante rates with the great goalkeepers of all time. I’m sorry to see him go. Not only was he colourful, but he revolutionized the business of goaltending.
“He was the first to move way out to field the puck and help his defence, and, he brought in the mask. That took courage and it will help a lot of goalkeepers to make the big time.”
Francis caught off-guard
Ranger general manager Emile Francis was caught off-guard by Plante’s announcement.
“This was a surprise to me. We’ll have to take another look at our situation. I think Jacques could be an asset to us for two or three years to come.”
Plante’s sudden departure leaves the Rangers without a goalkeeper with extensive NHL experience. Ed Giacomin was acquired from Providence, but Francis’ idea there was to have him back up and be mentored by Plante. Next on the New York depth chart in goal would be young Gilles Villemure, 25. He played 30 games for the Rangers in 1963-64, and was with Vancouver of the WHL last season.
Francis has said that he is interested in Montreal’s Cesare Maniago, who played in the Boston organization on loan to Minneapolis of the CPHL last season. He will likely be made available in this week’s draft by Canadiens. Francis also said that if Toronto doesn’t protect veteran netminder Terry Sawchuk, he will grab him as well.
League: goalies must be ready in 5 minutes
The NHL yesterday decreed that backup goaltenders must be ready to play within five minutes of being called upon. That effectively means that spare goalies will be completely dressed and ready to go for all games. The new rule also stipulates that if a goalie needs an equipment repair, or needs stitches or any other medical treatment, or goes to the bench for any other reason, the game cannot be delayed more than five minutes.
In another policy change regarding the league’s puck stoppers, referees have been instructed to automatically impose a two-minute penalty to any netminder who shoots the puck into the crowd. That rule has been on the books for a while, but most referees were very liberal in their interpretation of the rules, resulting in few penalties actually being assessed for the this transgression.
Stick-swinging will cost
The Rules Committee also took a hard look at stick-swinging. In an effort to cut down on such incidents, a player who swings his stick at another player during an altercation will be subject to a fine of $200. The offending player need not make contact with his target. In addition to the fine, the league president has the option of imposing an additional suspension.
Morrison to be referee-in-chief
Ian (Scotty) Morrison will be appointed to the position of NHL referee-in-chief today. He replaces Carl Voss, who retired effective June 1.
Morrison returned to the NHL officiating ranks this past season as a linesman when the league dismissed George Hayes. Morrison is a Montreal native who now resides in Toronto. He formerly held the position of referee-in-chief of the Western Hockey League.
- Montreal and New York are said to be working on a trade which would send left-winger Vic Hadfield to Canadiens. Rangers apparently would include one other player, while Montreal will give up three of Bryan Watson, Dave Balon, Garry Peters or Red Berenson.
- Detroit is trying to acquire either of Chicago defencemen Al MacNeil or Elmer Vasko. The Wings are also seeking a goalkeeper to back up Roger Crozier.
- Boston made the Ron Stewart trade with Toronto, but is trying to pry goalie Terry Sawchuk from the Leafs as well. Bruins are said to also be talking trade with the Rangers.
- The CPHL has approved the transfer of its Minneapolis club to Oklahoma City. The Boston Bruins will continue to run the franchise.
- The American and Western Hockey Leagues have agreed upon an interlocking schedule.
- Lynn Patrick, former general manager of the Boston Bruins, has been appointed manager-coach of the Los Angeles Blades of the WHL. He replaces Alf Pike.
- Toronto president Stafford Smythe says that if the Rangers don’t protect retired goalie Jacques Plante, he will draft him and expose Johnny Bower and Gerry Cheevers. Punch Imlach had no comment on that plan.
- Camille Henry, traded from New York to Chicago last season, was the most accurate shooter in the NHL. He scored 26 goals on only 108 shots for a 24.1 percentage.