I’ve been working on this project for about 15 years, and although there are gaps and holes I’m satisfied most of the information is correct.
The general premise of this series of posts (there will be 20, over the next couple of years) is to explain the diabolical Sam Pollock expansion design and how it handicapped all of the expansion teams and two of the original six. This series will also expose the Toronto Maple Leafs as possibly the dumbest bunch of yokels since Jed Clampett.
We begin in the spring of 1967. Toronto is the SC winner, George Armstrong sealing the deal.
The pre-expansion draft buzz involved a difficult decision in Montreal and the New York Rangers apparent inability to protect Bernie Geoffrion. The Habs decision boiled down to this: they had one spot for either veteran defender Ted Harris or young winger Claude Larose. Harris gave Montreal an enforcer along the blue, but Larose had the potential to be a quality winger for years to come.
In New York, Bernie Geoffrion threatened to retire if any expansion team called his name. Quoting the June 6, 1967 Montreal Gazette “Geoffrion claims he will retire rather than play for any other club if drafted. The Rangers have made overtures to the expansion owners that Geoffrion should pass through the draft.”
Unprotected players included the retiring George Armstrong, the retired Jacques Plante and the new coach of the expansion Los Angeles Kings Red Kelly. The storylines would unfold for months and years over these and other names.
Expansion had a massive impact on the NHL and its players.
- Boston Bruins: G Gerry Cheevers, D Ted Green, D Don Awrey, D Gary Doak, C Phil Esposito, C Fred Stanfield, L Johnny Bucyk, L Tommy Williams, L Eddie Shack, R John McKenzie, R Ed Westfall, R Ken Hodge. (1 goalie, 3 defensemen and 8 forwards). The Bruins had just made the historic Esposito trade with Chicago. That deal, along with Orr’s emergence led to Boston becoming a powerhouse seemingly overnight.
- Chicago Black Hawks: G Denis DeJordy, D Pierre Pilotte, D Pat Stapleton, D Gilles Marotte, D Doug Jarrett, C Stan Mikita, C Pit Martin, L Bobby Hull, L Doug Mohns, L Dennis Hull, R Kenny Wharram, R Chico Maki (1 goalie, 4 defensemen and 7 forwards). Chicago has just shot themselves in the foot with the Esposito deal. They will recover quickly, however.
- Detroit Red Wings: G Roger Crozier, D Gary Bergman, D Bert Marshall, D Bob McCord, C Alex Delvecchio, C Norm Ullman, C Ted Hampson, L Dean Prentice, L Paul Henderson, R Gordie Howe, R Bruce MacGregor, R Doug Roberts. (1 goalie, 3 defensemen and 8 forwards). Detroit was not a well run organization at this time, and their protected list was by far the weakest of the original 6.
- Montreal Canadiens: G Lorne Worsley, D Jean-Claude Tremblay, D Jacques Laperriere, D Terry Harper, D Ted Harris, C Jean Beliveau, C Henri Richard, C Ralph Backstrom, L Gilles Tremblay, L John Ferguson, R Yvan Cournoyer, R Bobby Rousseau. (1 goalie, 4 defensemen and 7 forwards). Habs would lose quality and quantity, but as you’ll see beginning in segment two of the series Sam Pollock used surgical precision to protect the nest. You’ll note LaRose–mentioned earlier–is unprotected. The story will unfold in volume 2.
- New York Rangers: G Ed Giacomin, D Arnie Brown, D Wayne Hillman, D Harry Howell, D Jim Neilson, C Jean Ratelle, C Phil Goyette, C Orland Kurtenbach, L Vic Hadfield, L Don Marshall, R Rod Gilbert, R Bob Nevin. (1 goalie, 4 defensemen and 7 forwards). Rangers should have been the league’s powerhouse but were a middling group owing to a subpar minor league procurement system. They had good scouts, just not enough of them and their territory was dwarfed by others during the ‘sponsorship’ era.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: G Johnny Bower, D Tim Horton, D Larry Hillman, D Marcel Pronovost, C Dave Keon, C Peter Stemkowski, C Bob Pulford, L Frank Mahovlich, L Mike Walton, L Brian Conacher, R Jim Pappin, R Ron Ellis. (1 goalie, 3 defensemen and 8 defensemen). You won’t believe this unless you’re my age or older, but in 1967 the Leafs and Habs were about equal in Stanley’s won and Stanley’s won recently. Toronto Maple Leafs won 13 Stanley’s 1917-67, Montreal Canadiens 13. You could look it up.
The NHL had very specific (and liberal) rules in regard to the players who were deemed ineligible for the expansion draft. Any junior aged players who had been signed in the previous season would be ineligible for the draft. Basically, what it meant was that (for the most part) team could hold back any worthwhile prospect born in 1946, 1947, 1948 or 1949 under this ruling.
It represented a monumental portion of the available young talent and made developing youth impossible for the 6 new teams. Because the entry draft age was 20, the amateur drafts of 1967, 1968 and (somewhat) 1969 were all crippled by this rule.
Here are the ineligible lists for the original 6 teams.
- Boston Bruins (18): G Dunc Wilson, D Bobby Orr, D Barry Wilkins, D Nick Beverly, D Guy Allen, D Barry Gibbs, D Rick Smith, C Derek Sanderson, C Jim Harrison, C Jim Lorentz, L Ross Lonsberry, L Don Marcotte, L Chris Hayes, L Bill Lesuk, L Grant Erickson, L Garnet Bailey, R Tom Webster, R Steve Atkinson.
- Chicago Black Hawks: (23): D Tom Reid, D Ray McKay, D Jerry Korab, D Larry Gibbons, D Ron Anderson, D Barry Salovaara, C JP Leblanc, C Bob Sicinski, C Jim Stanfield, C Peter Mara, C Garth Rizzuto, C Bill Young, C Terry Caffery, C Brian Morenz, L Doug Shelton, L Mike Chernoff, L Rick Morris, L Jan Popiel, L Ron Dussiaume, R Gerry Pinder, R Don Burgess, R Moe L’abbe, R Cliff Koroll.
- Detroit Red Wings (25): G Don McLeod, G Chris Worthy, G Gerry Gray, D Brian Gibbons, D Kerry Ketter, D Hap Myers, D Joe Zanussi, D Lee Carpenter, D Gerry Hart, D Randy Manery, C Rene Leclerc, C Don Giesebrecht, C Dave Rochefort, C Fred Speck, C Jim Adair, L Ed Hatoum, L Hank Monteith, L Jim Shires, L Brian Watts, R Dick Sarrazin, R Bob Birdsell, R Galen Head, R Danny Lawson, R Sandy Snow, R Doug Volmar.
- Montreal Canadiens (31): G Phil Ouimet, G Rocky Farr,G Phil Myre, G Ken Dryden, G Glenn Resch, D John Vanderburg, D Paul Curtis, D John Schella, D Guy Lapointe, D Bob Murray, D Norm Descoteaux, D Francois Lacombe, D Pierre Bouchard, C Chris Bordeleau, C Brian Lavender, C Garry Monahan, C Rich Pumple, C Rey Comeau, C Jude Drouin, C Danny O’Shea, C Ralph Stewart, C Moe St. Jacques, C Larry Pleau, L Jake Rathwell, L Barrie Meissner, L Robin Burns, L Ernie Hicke, L Don Liesemer, L Bob Berry, R Mickey Redmond, R Phil Roberto.
- New York Rangers (23): G Gary Kurt, G Robbie Irons, D Larry Brown, D John Barber, D Mike Robitaille, D Sheldon Kannegeisser, D Marshall Johnston, D Bryan Lefley, D Brad Park, C Syl Apps, C Walt Tkaczuk, C Juha Widing, C Michel Parizeau, C Don Luce, L Tim Ecclestone, L Joey Johnston, L Dan Seguin, L Denis Dupere, L Jim Krulicki, R Billy Fairbairn, R Kevin O’Shea, R Jack Egers, R Barry Wilcox.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (23): G Bob Whidden, G Ken Broderick, G Ron Marlow, G Wayne Thomas, D Chris Evans, D Jim Dorey, D Mike Pelyk, D Brian Glennie, D Rick Ley, D Bill Horton, C Gerry Meehan, C Walt McKechnie, C Garry Unger, C Neil Clairmont, C John Wright, C Brian Murphy, C Doug Acomb, L Gary Croteau, R Brent Imlach, R Mike Byers, R Billy MacMillan, R Barry Boughner, R Tom Martin.
Only the most diabolical of men could cut the line so fine as to allow the protection of all of his front liners–past, present and most importantly future, while also freeing enough line to expose his enemies best young men. It was beyond impressive; I would suggest it was the single most effective example of a GM acting on improving his team compared to the competition in the entire history of the game. How could a man stack the deck so thoroughly in his own favor and not be imprisoned? And what’s more, how would a professional hockey league allow such an enormous travesty?
The Stanley wins in 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1976-79 should all have an asterisk. Want to know why?
Stay tuned. for volume 2.