This is Cliff Koroll. Using the rules of the universal draft established in 1969, he would have been available to all NHL teams via the 1967 entry draft. The “amateur” draft did not include Koroll, or any of the other top flight talents whose age made them eligible for selection. The reasons varied, but the bottom line was the same: the six expansion teams were effectively cutoff from the best amateur talent available, and would be for two years.
For some teams, it took years to figure out the amateur draft. Years.
This is J. Bob Kelly, or Bob “Battleship” Kelly. He played for the Port Arthur Marrs of the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League. It was a very good club and Kelly was a fearsome forward. Kelly could play the game, but his elite skill was turning opposition faces into hamburger via on-ice fighting. The guy was a terror, brutal squared.
Kelly was one of three players drafted in 1967 by NHL teams who made it to the big time. Toronto selected him as a favor to Port Huron (IHL) who signed him during the eligibility window (late October) for drafted players. The other two–Serge Bernier by Philadelphia and Al Karlander by Detroit–did not play in the dominant junior league (OHA) or the second junior league (CMJHL, which would be the WCJHL the following year). The original six had scooped up all of the talent.
Perhaps the best way to show how thoroughly the big clubs picked clean the 1967 Amateur draft would be to list the eligibles who made the NHL and then place the unprotected and available players in bold. I won’t include players who were eligible (Thommie Abrahamsson, Bob Murdoch) but would not have been on NHL radar for one reason or another.
- G John Adams (Port Arthur-TBJHL)
- C Ray Adduono (Port Arthur-TBJHL)
- D Doug Barrie (Pittsburgh-AHL)
- C Serge Bernier (Sorel-QJHL)
- D Nick Beverley (Oshawa-OHA)
- D Larry Brown (Brandon-MJHL)
- L Robin Burns (Montreal Jr Canadiens-OHA)
- R Mike Byers (Toronto-OHA)
- C Wayne Carleton (Tulsa-CPHL)
- D Bart Crashley (Memphis-CPHL)
- L Gary Croteau (St. Lawrence University-NCAA)
- L Grant Erickson (Estevan-CMJHL)
- D Chris Evans (Toronto-OHA)
- R Bill Fairbairn (Brandon-CMJHL)
- G Norm “Rocky” Farr (Oshawa-OHA)
- D Brian Glennie (Toronto-OHA)
- C Gary Gambucci (U of Minnesota-NCAA)
- L Rod Graham (Kingston- OHA Sr)
- R Lucien Grenier (Houston-CPHL)
- D Allan Hamilton (Omaha-CPHL)
- R Galen Head (Edmonton-OHA)
- D Paul Hurley (Boston Colleg-NCAA)
- L Brent Imlach (London-OHA)
- G Robbie Irons (Kitchener-OHA)
- G Joe Junkin (Bobcaygeon-OHA B)
- C Al Karlander (Michigan Tech-NCAA)
- L J Bob Kelly (Port Arthur Marrs-TBJHL)
- R Cliff Koroll (Denver-NCAA)
- G Gary Kurt (Kitchener-OHA)
- C Brian Lavender (Regina-CMJHL)
- C JP Leblanc (St. Catherine’s-OHA)
- L Bill Lesuk (Weyburn-SJHL)
- L Ross Lonsberry (Oklahoma City-CPHL)
- C Jim Lorentz (Niagra Falls-OHA)
- D Keith Magnuson (Denver-NCAA)
- C Peter Mahovlich (Pittsburgh-AHL)
- L Don Marcotte (Niagra Falls-OHA)
- D Ray McKay (Moose Jaw-CMJHL)
- D Jim McKenny (Tulsa-CPHL)
- C Gerry Meehan (Toronto-OHA)
- L Barrie Meissner (Regina-CMJHL)
- G Don McLeod (Edmonton-CMJHL)
- C Garry Monahan (Peterborough-OHA)
- D Gord Nelson (Three Rivers-QJHL)
- R Kevin O’Shea (Cornwall-CJAHL)
- C Larry Pleau (Montreal-OHA)
- D Tom Reid (St. Catherine’s-OHA)
- C Dave Rochefort (Memphis-CPHL)
- C Derek Sanderson (Niagra Falls-OHA)
- D John Schella (Peterborough-OHA)
- R Sandy Snow (Hamilton-OHA)
- C Jim Stanfield (London-OHA)
- D Barry Wilkins (Oshawa-OHA)
- D Roger Wilson (Columbus-IHL)
A few notes:
- Keith Magnuson is listed as having “signed as a free agent” by Chicago in 1969, but I dispute it. Magnuson was a Saskatoon Blade, and like other Blades of the era like Bobby Schmautz and Gerry Pinder, Magnuson would have been signed to a form by the Hawks when he was a child.
- If these 54 players had been made available to the expansion teams, their improvement would have been quicker, they would have been able to promote “franchise” talents and excited the fanbase for their future. The NHL would eventually figure it out, but the 1967 expansion teams were robbed in the amateur draft.
- A bunch of Bruins kids played in the NHL 66-67: Derek Sanderson, Ross Lonsberry, Nick Beverley, Barry Wilkins. They also had Don Marcotte and Jim Lorentz safely tucked away.
- I would rate the 10 best players (not in any order) to be Peter Mahovlich, Derek Sanderson, Bill Fairbairn, Allan Hamilton, Serge Bernier, Cliff Koroll, Ross Lonsberry, Don Marcotte, Jim McKenny and Gerry Meehan. ALL of them would have been immediate candidates for play in the Western division. Exactly one was eligible for the new teams, and the Flyers selected Bernier first chance they got (5th overall).
- The OHA (modern OHL) was dominant in 1967–fully 40% (22 of 54) of the NHL’s future came from the Ontario League. At that time, the western junior situation was morphing, with the SJHL and MJHL being strong junior leagues and the CMJHL (Canadian Major Junior Hockey League, the modern WHL) considered an outlaw league by the powers that be during this period. That league–the CMJHL–did deliver 6 players to the NHL.
- Several players were in pro hockey. Some had cups of NHL coffee, but Peter Mahovlich and Doug Barrie (AHL) along with Wayne Carleton, Bart Crashley, Allan Hamilton, Lucien Grenier, Ross Lonsberry and Dave Rochefort (CPHL) could have stepped right into the NHL with the new clubs. They had pro experience by 1967 spring.
- I have tried and tried to piece this item together and can’t make it work. I know that Cliff Koroll’s rights were owned by the Los Angeles Blades of the old pro WHL. I know their owners did not get the rights to the NHL team and would have sold off everything including the chairs and typewriters. However, I’m not sure if they sold Koroll’s rights to Chicago as an open bid or if that was an option the Hawks enjoyed. Either way, Koroll was not eligible on draft day–not because the Hawks had him on their reserve list–but because the Los Angeles Blades had him on their reserve list.
- That’s something we won’t spend too much time on, but a team like the LA Blades or Baltimore Clippers would have enjoyed ownership of amateur player rights too. Crazy mess of a system.
- Some of the new teams did benefit from the sponsorship era–that’s what this entire system was called, the sponsorship system–and I believe the best amateur under the umbrella of the new teams was Onil Boutin who belonged to the Quebec Aces the day Philadelphia purchased the team. His photo is below. He would play three full seasons and a part of a fourth in the AHL for the Aces.
Now, the names above are just the ones who would have been eligible as 20-year olds. If we used the modern era rules, all of Bobby Orr, Brad Park, Walt Tkaczuk, Mickey Redmond, Garry Unger, Ken Dryden, Guy Lapointe, Don Luce, Rene Robert–hell, teams would have been competitive in no time! The Oakland Seals could have drafted Ernie Hicke and put him on the same line as his brother! They could have kept their 1971 lottery ticket for Lafleur or Dionne! Argh.
I don’t really know that much about Bud Poile, except to say he is a big part of Edmonton’s hockey history (Edmonton Flyers won championship with Poile as coach, 1955) and that he won a Stanley as a player. This expansion series tells us that Poile and Keith Allen were miles ahead of the other teams, and in fact were smarter than most of the established clubs.
Smart management–then as now–is vital to an organization’s success. Up next: The defining moment for the 6 new teams–the amateur draft of 1969.