50 Years Ago in Hockey: Habs Crush Leafs; Gamble Hurt

The Montreal Canadiens crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2 last night in Toronto in one of three National Hockey League games. In the other two matches, Bobby Hull scored his 53rd of the season as Chicago downed Detroit 4-1 and the Boston Bruins handled the New York Rangers 3-1.

Gamble Hurt as Beliveau Leads Habs

Bobby Rousseau opened the scoring for Habs.
Bobby Rousseau opened the scoring for Habs.

Jean Beliveau was the big star as the Canadiens romped over the Leafs in a game where hostility prevailed throughout the night. Beliveau had a hand in five of the seven Montreal goals, scoring twice and setting up three others. Big Jean now has 998 career points.

Canadiens set the tone by scoring early and often. They built up a 3-0 first period lead on goals by Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay and Claude Larose. Ron Ellis got the Leafs on the board late in the period.

Montreal added three more in the second period to lead 6-2 when Leaf goalie Bruce Gamble left the game with what is believed to be a pulled hamstring. Gamble apparently injured the leg on a Beliveau shot in the first period and finally at 15:18 of the second, he could no longer continue. Gamble is the fourth Maple Leaf goalkeeper to be injured this season.

Johnny Bower came off the bench and took over for Gamble for the rest of the game. He gave up only one goal, to Dave Balon, in the final frame.

Bruce Gamble - 4th Leaf goalie to be injured this year.
Bruce Gamble – 4th Leaf goalie to be injured this year.

All this took place after a wild one minute and five seconds early in the middle frame in which the teams scored four goals. Beliveau netted his 25th of the season at the five-minute mark. Twenty seconds later Dave Keon’s 22nd for the Leafs made the score 4-2. Then, 23 seconds after Keon’s marker, Beliveau connected again to make it 5-2 Montreal. Finally, at 6:05 Ralph Backstrom made it 6-2 for Canadiens.

Referee Vern Buffey tagged Toronto with 10 of the 16 penalties he handed out in the rough contest. That included a brawl in the final minute where John Ferguson and Kent Douglas were sent off for fighting. Ferguson suffered a six-stitch cut during the tussle.

Hull Nets 53rd as Hawks Down Wings

Phil Esposito - two goals for Hawks.
Phil Esposito – two goals for Hawks.

Bobby Hull continued his assault on the NHL record book by scoring his 53rd goal of the season in Chicago’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The goal came just past the half-way mark of the game and gave the Hawks a 4-0 lead.

Phil Esposito scored twice to pace the Chicago attack. Defenseman Doug Jarrett also found the range for the Hawks. Val Fonteyne was the only Red Wing to beat Chicago goalie Glenn Hall. Hall was solid for Chicago, making 38 saves as the Wings outshot their hosts 39-20.

Hull’s latest record-setter was set up by Pat Stapleton. Hull deflected Stapleton’s blue line shot  from about six feet in front of Detroit goalie Roger Crozier, who had no chance on the play. The Chicago superstar also assisted on Jarrett’s goal, giving him 93 points on the season. That’s just three short of the NHL record for a season. Dickie Moore, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens, is the present record-holder.

Bucyk Paces Bruins

John Bucyk - all the offence Bruins needed.
John Bucyk – all the offence Bruins needed.

Two goals from Johnny Bucyk were all the Boston Bruins needed as they beat the New York Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. While Bucyk took care of the bulk of the offensive work, Boston goalie Eddie Johnston was the star of the game.

New York dominated play throughout, pouring 45 shots at Johnston, but beating him only once. In the second period alone, Johnston stopped 21 of 22 New York drives with several spectacular saves.

After a scoreless first period, the teams exchanged goals in the second. Bucyk gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 1:02 before Ranger defenseman Jim Nielson evened it up at 3:40.  The Bruins basically stood around for the rest of the period watching Johnston perform his heroics.

There were several fights in the period, with Reg Fleming of the Rangers involved in two of them. After tangling with Don Awrey early in the middle frame, he ended up battling with Boston’s John McKenzie, the man for whom he was traded  earlier in the season.

Bucyk scored the winner at 15:56 of the third, his 23rd of the year. Murray Oliver added an insurance goal with a little more than a minute left in the game.

NHL Execs Discount Draft Plan

Harold Ballard

National Hockey League executives have said that details of a reported plan to stock the six expansion teams joining the league in 1967 are the product of wild speculation. The reports suggested that established teams would protect five skaters and a goalkeeper.

Montreal Canadiens president David Molson says the report has no credence:

No foundation for that yarn at all. I’d say the present clubs should protect at least 14 or 15 men.

Harold Ballard of the Toronto Maple Leafs differed on the numbers but agreed with Molson that the report is not accurate:

“I’d say we’ll all protect 12 players before the new clubs get a chance. I don’t want to hose them but I think we’re entitled to take care of our own needs pretty good.”

Philly Looking for Staff

The new Philadelphia NHL team is looking for staff to fill positions immediately. The first task, according to president Bill Putnam, is to hire a vice-president of player personnel.

We have five people in mind for the job. All of them are connected with NHL organizations and we’ve been given permission to talk to four of them.

The Philadelphia group has committed to building their own arena. It will be located on city-owned land in south Philadelphia. Putnam gave assurances that the building will be ready in time for the team’s scheduled NHL debut:

“Our promise stands. We’ll have a rink with 16,000 seats by August, 1967.”

Ed Fitkin Joins Cooke in Los Angeles

Ed Fitkin, shown here interviewing former Leaf Carl Brewer
Ed Fitkin, shown here interviewing former Leaf Carl Brewer

Ed Fitkin, the former director of public relations with the Toronto Maple Leafs has taken on a similar position with the new Los Angeles NHL team owned by Canadian expatriate Jack Kent Cooke. Cooke says that Fitkin will also serve as his executive assistant as he constructs the new hockey organization.

Fitkin will also assist Cooke in his bid for a  team in the North American Soccer League. Fitkin has soccer experience, having been a shareholder in the Toronto City team of the Eastern Pro Soccer League.

Fitkin was a Toronto sportswriter before joining the Canadian navy in 1943. When he returned to civilian life, he went to work  in the Maple Leaf Gardens publicity department. He left that post in 1953 to work in local radio but returned to the Gardens in a part-time role several years ago. For the past few years he has been the editor of Maple Leaf Gardens programs. He has written eight books on hockey.

St. Louis Arena Sold

Sidney Salomon Jr,. and son Sidney III.
Sidney Salomon Jr,. and son Sidney III.

Sidney Salomon Jr. says he has a deal in place to purchase the St. Louis Arena. This would be the first step in obtaining the NHL franchise conditionally granted the city last month. Salomon says he only needs NHL approval to receive the franchise.

The transaction is not a done deal, however. The sale, valued at $4 million, is conditional upon Salomon being awarded the NHL franchise. He said there will be no deal without the NHL team.

Salomon says he is the front man for a 10-man group which includes six others from St. Louis, two from Chicago and one from Washington, D.C. The arena is presently owned by Arthur Wirtz and the estate of the late James Norris Jr.

Salomon expressed optimism that the sale will go through:

We believe we will be in the season of 1967-68, although it could happen sooner.

NHL president Clarence Campbell confirmed that Salomon had made an acceptable offer for the arena. While he said that the offer was suitable, it was conditional on the awarding of the franchise to Salomon. That, he said, will be completely at the discretion of the league’s board of governors.

Campbell outlined the process that will take place next. Salomon’s group or a representative will appear before the governors on April 5. At that time they must present a letter of credit, irrevocable, in the amount of $500,000. They then will make a presentation in the same way the other five successful candidates did in February.

The governors will then have to approve the group’s application and its plan for hockey in St. Louis. Salomon and each member of his group will then be vetted and approved by the governors. Finally, St. Louis will have to be accepted as a viable territory for an NHL team.

That last step is virtually assured, since the league identified the St. Louis area as a suitable location for a team.

Junior Habs Eliminate Hamilton

Jacques Lemaire
Jacques Lemaire

The Montreal Junior Canadiens eliminated the Hamilton Red Wings from further competition in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A playoffs last night. The Baby Habs won the series with three wins and two ties as a result of their 9-0 trouncing of the Red Wings.

Jacques Lemaire led the way for Montreal with three goals. Norm Ferguson, Bernard Cote, Normand Descoteaux, Serge Savard, Jim Bannatyne and Lucien Grenier also scored for the Junior Habs.

Ted Ouimet made 22 saves to register the shutout for Montreal. Hamilton goalie Gerry Gray was valiant in defeat. The Junior Canadiens fired 55 shots at the Red Wing netminder.