50 Years Ago in Hockey: Vancouver Edges Closer to NHL Team

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson has given a huge boost to the city of Vancouver’s hopes of obtaining a National Hockey League franchise. Mr. Pearson announced that he has pledged $2 million in federal grant money to the city for the construction of a trade centre / arena complex.

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

According to a report by Anthony Westell in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the money is a gift by the federal government to the city and could be a prelude to a possible federal election this November.

Mr. Pearson announced the grant in Ottawa last week, emphasizing the importance of trade with Asia, but he made no mention of hockey, according to the report. Vancouver, however sees the grant as an answer to its dream of obtaining an NHL franchise when the league expands, possibly as soon as the 1967-68 season.

City, Province to Contribute As Well

Mayor W. G. Rathie says that the city will build a $6 million arena which would seat 18,000 fans on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds and that the federal grant would make this possible. The province of British Columbia will also contribute $2 million and city council has offered to kick in at least $1 million to make the project possible.

Vancouver mayor Bill Rathie
Vancouver mayor Bill Rathie

The city would own the arena / trade centre and would rent the facility to a syndicate of local businessmen who are in the process of submitting an application for the NHL franchise.

The NHL is expected to add six new teams in time for 1967-68. Vancouver is hopeful that they will land one of the new franchises. It’s expected that two other west coast clubs will be added, likely in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.

Mayor Rathie was asked if the new building would be a trade centre or an arena. With a smile, he replied, “For the rest of Canada, it’s a trade centre.”

Campbell Optimistic

NHL president Clarence Campbell was in Montreal recently and was questioned about the expansion process and specifically Vancouver’s status in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement. He made these comments:

“It now appears that Vancouver is well on its way to meeting our requirements. We have had requests for franchise application forms from three or four responsible groups, all of whom I think would be capable of operating a team in that city.”

Vancouver has long held hopes of joining the NHL. Those hopes seemed to be dashed in 1964 when the city turned down an offer from Stafford Smythe, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to build an NHL-quality coliseum on property situated in the downtown core.

Stafford Smythe
Stafford Smythe

Smythe was extremely upset by the rejection, which came about when the issue was put to a plebiscite in last December’s civic elections. Smythe stated that Vancouver would not likely receive an NHL team for at least a generation as a result of their rejection of his proposal.

Canadiens Name Farm Team

The Montreal Canadiens have come up with a name for their new farm team in the Central Professional Hockey League. The team will play in Houston, Texas and will be known as the Apollos. General manager of the club will be Jerry Delisle.

Houston Apollos Logo
Houston Apollos Logo

The Canadiens moved their CPHL farm to the Texas city from Omaha, Nebraska after last season.


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  • Detroit Red Wing goalkeeper Roger Crozier has been admitted to a Bracebridge, Ontario hospital with what has been described as a stomach disorder. Crozier has been conducting a hockey school in Bracebridge.
  • The NHL has announced that spare goaltenders must be dressed and on or near the bench during all games. This will eliminate unnecessary delays experienced when goaltenders are replaced during the course of a game.