The National Hockey League’s annual kick-off to its season took place in Toronto as the All-Stars edged the Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs by a 3-2 score at Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday night. It took a while for the star-studded NHL squad to get to know each other, but after a scoreless first period, things began to mesh together quite nicely.
Hall of Fame line
All-Stars coach Sid Abel put together a line consisting of Jean Beliveau at centre, between right wing Gordie Howe and left wing Bobby Hull. It’s entirely possible that another such talented threesome may never again be assembled. Abel used this big line as much as possible with good results. They had the puck most of the time they were on the ice, which of course meant that the Leafs did not. The unit scored the All-Stars’ second goal, with Beliveau doing the honours, with helpers going to Hull and Howe. Big Jean was chosen the game’s outstanding player.
Two Boston Bruins took care of the rest of the scoring for the NHL’ers. Murray Oliver had what proved to be the winning goal early in the third period, after defenceman Leo Boivin had opened the scoring midway through the second period. The first period was scoreless.
The first half of the game had been goalless mainly due to the fine work of starting goaltenders Glenn Hall of the All-Stars and Johnny Bower of the Leafs. Both gave way to their backups at the half-way point of the second period, when Montreal’s Charlie Hodge took over for the Stars and Terry Sawchuk went in for Toronto.
Toronto scorers were Kent Douglas and Jim Pappin. Douglas’ goal came about a minute after Boivin’s goal in the second period, while Pappin netted his marker with about six and a half minutes left in the game to bring the Leafs to within one. Hodge, however, stood his ground to preserve the victory for the All-Stars.
The All-Stars outshot Toronto 35-30 on the night, before a crowd of 14, 200.
Toronto coach Punch Imlach was not impressed by the effort put forth by his charges. After the game, Imlach was asked what he though of the many pre-season predictions that have all but awarded the Leafs first place and made them shoe-ins to capture their fourth straight Stanley Cup. Said Imlach, “My guys are going to have trouble living up to those predictions. Some of them had better start playing better hockey or else.”
Imlach had promised the Leafs a day off from practice if they defeated the All-Stars. As a result, they were out at a heavy workout early Sunday morning. The boys were seen engaged in lots of stops and starts and end-to-end skating drills.
All-Star dinner was the best entertainment
Even more entertaining than the actual All-Star game was the annual dinner, held at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Television star Johnny Wayne was the master of ceremonies and stole the show, keeping the large gathering in stitches all night. Wayne, who describes himself as the Leafs’ number one fan, poked fun at many of hockey’s stars and personalities throughout the evening.
The NHL has established a gift of a gold tie-clip to NHL players who exceed a career total of 250 goals, and that was the first shot Wayne took, pointing to all-time scoring leader Gordie Howe:
“Giving Gordie Howe a tie-clip for scoring 250 goals is like making Winston Churchill an alderman in Ward 4.”
Wayne called ageless Johnny Bower, goaltender for the Leafs, “The man who has discovered the secret of abnormal middle age.”
Boucher comments on Lady Byng
The great Frank Boucher, seven-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy was there to present the award to Chicago forward Kenny Wharram. Wharram was unable to attend the gala as he recovers from a fractured skull sustained in an exhibition game last month. On hand to accept the hardware for Wharram was Chicago general manager Tommy Ivan. Boucher had this to say about Wharram and the Byng:
“Some people will say that because Ken Wharram won the Lady Byng Trophy he must be a sissy hockey player. But he shouldn’t worry. All Ken has to do is look up the records of other fellows who played the game by the rules and he will see that nobody chased them out of the league.”
Bisons down Amerks
The Buffalo Bisons opened their American Hockey League season by edging the Rochester Americans 3-2 in Memorial Auditorium before 4,169 fans Sunday night.
The big star of the night for the Bisons was goaltender Ed Chadwick, who stymied the Americans at almost every turn. Tall, lanky Ed, who once toiled for Rochester when he was a Leaf chattel, made 33 saves on the night. He was especially sharp in the first period when the Bisons were two men short for almost an entire two minutes.
Ray Cullen, Chuck Kelly and Ed Van Impe were the Bisons’ marksmen. Wally Boyer and young Pete Stemkowski took care of the Amerks scoring. Jerry Cheevers, in goal for Rochester, made 20 saves.
Bisons’ Pat Hannigan needed several stitches after he was clipped in the mouth by Boyer’s stick. Hannigan and Boyer then engaged in a spirited bout, which didn’t last long, but saw both men land several solid blows.
The winning goal, by Cullen, was scored at 8:15 of the final frame when he banked a shot from behind the net into Rochester’s goal off the skate of Cheevers.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.