The National Hockey League made history today with the announcement of the addition of six new franchises to being play in the 1967-68 season. The news was cause for joy in some quarters and bitter frustration and resentment in others.
The league announced that it will add six cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
St. Louis “Conditional”
The St. Louis franchise was awarded conditionally. This was a surprise in that no group has thus far indicated any interest in establishing an NHL franchise in the midwest city. The governors stipulated that if a suitable applicant comes forth before April 5, 1966, then a conditional franchise will be granted for that area. It’s thought that if no St. Louis bid is received by then, Baltimore will be the next city in line.
James Norris and Arthur Wirtz, co-owners of the Chicago Black Hawks, own the St. Louis arena. They are insisting that any potential franchisee for St. Louis must purchase the arena from them.
The major shock is that Vancouver was left out in the cold. Thought to be a sure-fire addition to the league, the governors were evidently not impressed with their presentation.
Here are the five winning groups and any conditions added to the granting of their franchise:
Los Angeles: California Sports Inc. owned by Jack Kent Cooke, upon condition that he will build his own arena in his “home territory.”
San Francisco: San Francisco Seals, Inc., to be operated in the new Oakland-Alameda County Arena at Oakland, California.
Minneapolis-St. Paul: The Hockey Club of Minnesota headed by Gordon Ritz Jr., upon the condition that this group will construct a new arena in their “home territory.”
Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Professional Ice Hockey Club under direction of the group headed by Mr. William R. Putnam upon the condition that this group will construct a new arena in their “home territory.”
Pittsburgh: The Hockey Club Inc. of Pittsburgh group headed by Mr. Jack E. McGregor to be operated in the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.
None of the teams have officially declared names, although the San Francisco entry is almost certainly going to adopt the Seals name.
The five new franchises can begin building hockey organizations immediately. Speculation is already running rampant that many present NHL executives are being wooed by the new clubs.
We’ll have a full report in tomorrow’s column with reaction from each city and from the unsuccessful candidates.