The National Hockey League board of governors has officially approved an expansion franchise for St. Louis. A syndicate headed by Sidney Salomon Jr. was awarded the team at a meeting this morning.
The governors voted unanimously to award the franchise to Salomon. The city had been conditionally named by the NHL as a site for one of the six new clubs in February. However, no application for team ownership had been received at that time, so the league decreed that if no suitable group came forward, then another city, likely Baltimore, would receive the franchise.
Salomon Bought The Arena
As part of his bid for the team, Salomon also had to purchase the St. Louis Arena from co-owner Arthur Wirtz. Wirtz is also part-owner of the Chicago Black Hawks. That transaction is now complete, and that tipped the scales in favour of Salomon over a rival group led by Chicagoan Carl Berst.
Salomon completed the deal to buy The Arena on March 18. The purchase was conditional on his obtaining the NHL franchise.
Salomon was ecstatic at the news. He immediately announced that the new team would be called the St. Louis Blues. The team is expected to begin play in the 1967-68 season, along with teams in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Salomon says he will serve as president of the team. He listed his partners as:
- Preston Estep, chairman of the board of the Bank of St. Louis
- Robert Wolfson, chairman of the board of Gem International
- Elliott H. Stein, president of Scherck, Stein and Franc Inc. (an investment banking firm)
- John Soult, president of Fruin-Colnon Construction company
- James R. James Jr., chairman of the board of Clayton Bank
- Lester Crown, vice-president of General Dynamics Corporation
- Louis Menk, president of Burlington Railroad
- Stanley Rosensweig, chairman of the board of Electronic Wholesalers of Washington D.C.
Vancouver’s Hopes Dead
At the same meeting, a second franchise application by the city of Vancouver was not received. Cyrus McLean, who led the Vancouver group, announced just before the meeting that they were abandoning their bid for a team.
McLean said that he and fellow businessmen Max Bell and Frank McMahon were no longer interesting in pursuing a franchise for Vancouver. McLean said that he and Allan McGavin, the other member of the syndicate, would have submitted a bid at this morning’s meeting “If I thought it had any chance at all.”
This came as no surprise, given that the sixth new team had been awarded to St. Louis. NHL president Clarence Campbell explained:
“At such time that further expansion of the National Hockey League is considered, the governors agreed that cities such as Baltimore, Buffalo and Vancouver are acceptable in qualified areas. However, there are no additional franchises available at this time.”
Oshawa Takes Game One of OHA Final
The Oshawa Generals had no difficulty in disposing of the Kitchener Rangers in the first game of their Ontario Hockey Association final series. The Generals skated to a relatively easy 4-1 win over the Rangers last night in Oshawa.
Rookie Ron Dussiaume paced the Oshawa attack with a pair of goals. Danny O’Shea and Wayne Cashman added singles. Don Luce spoiled Ian Young’s shutout bid with a third-period marker for the Rangers.
Oshawa coach Bep Guidolin was not taking the Rangers lightly. Coming off a 10-day layoff, Guidolin stressed defense and positional play over offence and the strategy worked.
“We hardly knew what to look for in this series. Kitchener killed those other two teams with consistency. They kept plugging away at Marlies and gradually it paid off.
“We’ve been sitting around for 10 days. We didn’t play too well, we didn’t have much zip. Rangers had less and they finished a series Saturday. We just can’t take them lightly. Just when you do, they jump out and grab you.”
Kitchener now faces a problem scheduling home games for this series. A sportsmen’s show takes over the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium this week. This means that the Rangers home games will likely be switched to another venue, probably Maple Leaf Gardens.
Schmidt To Be Kicked Upstairs?
Speculation in Boston is that despite coaching the Bruins to their best finish in six years, coach Milt Schmidt will not be back next season behind the bench. Sources in Boston say the Hall of Fame centre is destined for a front-office job.
Although the Bruins have missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons, and were last for six of those years, coaching was never cited as a reason for the team’s poor performance. And throughout all those years, Schmidt maintained a classy and professional approach.
Now, as the team looks to be ready to turn the corner with a bevy of fine youngsters coming along, it’s possible that management is looking for a younger voice to guide the developing team.
Blake Fears Leafs
Montreal Canadiens coach Toe Blake is under no illusions about how difficult it will be for his team to advance past the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup final. Blake feels the semi-final series against the Leafs could be the toughest series of all.
Blake explained succinctly exactly what worries him the most about the Leafs:
“I’d say what I fear most is that the Leafs want to beat us more than any other team.
“I feel the winner of this will have a good chance to go all the way. But I think the other series will be tough too. I don’t believe those records and things. Chicago has shown a little strain recently and except for that one slump, Detroit has been playing well.”
Montreal finished first in the NHL standings for the 15th time this season. Oddsmakers are making them solid favourites to capture the Stanley Cup.
Blake thinks that the series against the Leafs will come down to factors that are always important in the playoffs – goalkeeping, defense and back checking.
Blake will take his team to a resort in the Laurentian mountains for the duration of the playoffs. The team left yesterday for the ski resort from which they will commute to the Forum for games and practices.
Toronto, on the other hand, will make no special arrangements. They will stay at home in Toronto and book in at the Mount Royal Hotel in downtown Montreal for the games at the Forum.
Imlach Works Leafs Hard
Toronto coach Punch Imlach, wary of a late-season slump by his charges, put the Leafs through a heavy workout yesterday and planned the same sort of workload today.
Both teams look to be relatively healthy going into the series. Only Frank Mahovlich’s knee is of real concern, but the big left-winger says he will be ready to go.
Leafs have three goaltenders at the ready. It’s likely Johnny Bower will get the nod in game one, but Terry Sawchuk and Bruce Gamble are set to play as well. The “emergency” declared by Imlach in Sunday’s finale in Detroit has apparently passed.
Francis: No Offer to Rocket
Emile Francis, coach and general manger of the New York Rangers, denies that the team has contacted former Montreal Canadiens great Maurice (Rocket) Richard about coaching the team.
“He has never been approached about coaching the Rangers.”
The Rangers finished last for the first time since 1960 this season. Francis took over from Red Sullivan as coach early in the year. At the time he said he wasn’t interested in holding the post on a long-term basis. Yesterday he said he wouldn’t make up his mind about returning behind the bench for at least a month.
- Toronto Maple Leaf goalies Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk will share a $500 bonus for finishing second in the Vezina Trophy race, tied with Glenn Hall of Chicago. The league added the extra bonus because of the tie. Stan Mikita of Chicago and Bobby Rousseau of Montreal tied for second in the scoring race and similarly were each awarded $500.
- Toronto rookie Brit Selby, who was reported to have suffered a fractured foot in the season’s final game in Detroit, is okay and will suit up for the Leafs’ first playoff game.
- John D’Amico, the strongest linesman in the NHL, carries a hand-exerciser in his car to improve the vise-like grip he uses to restrain players.
- Emile Francis says that one of the untouchables on the Rangers is forward Reggie Fleming, acquired mid-season from Boston for Johnny McKenzie.
- Cliff Schmautz of Portland has taken over first place in the WHL scoring race with 100 points. Vancouver’s Billy McNeill is right behind him with 99 with one game left on the schedule.
- Art Stratton of the St. Louis Braves won the CPHL scoring title with 94 points, made up of 28 goals and 66 assists. Paul Andrea of Minnesota Rangers was second, 14 points back.
- Wayne Rutledge of Minnesota Rangers was the CPHL’s leading goalie with a 2.81 goals-against average in 70 games.
- Gordie Howe finished fifth in NHL scoring. That is the 17th time he has been in the top five of NHL scorers in his career.
- Minnesota Rangers bombed Tulsa Oilers 8-0 in the first game of the CPHL Adams Cup playoffs. Sandy Fitzpatrick had a hat trick for Minnesota.