THE GREAT EXPANSION VOL 4

The Boston Bruins changed the course of history when Bobby Orr agreed to a contract, but a trade just before the great expansion moved “great” to “one for the ages.”

  • Milt Schmidt: I was still the assistant General Manager to Hap Emms (May 1967) but I said to (Bruins owner) Weston Adams “do you mind if I go out and try to make a few deals?” He said “Milt, we’ve spoken to everybody and they want one or two of our players we can’t afford to give.” I said “well you never can tell….”
  • more Schmidt: I went to Tommy Ivan in Chicago and we couldn’t get along at all. So I said ‘fine.’ So the last day before the trading deadline (this was the roster freeze for the expansion draft) at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the phone rang in my office. It was Tommy Ivan and he says ‘lets make a deal.’ I said “Tommy I’ve talked to you umpteen thousand times and there’s no way.” He said “no, lets try.”
  • more Schmidt: So I tossed a few names around and Tommy tossed a few names around and now all of a sudden he mentions Phil Esposito. And I said “Esposito? Why do you want to get rid of him? Is there something wrong with him?” Ivan says “there’s nothing wrong with him whatsoever” so I say “what are you trying to get rid of him for?” and Tommy says “he can’t get along with (coach) Billy Reay.” So I sad “lets put some names together and she how it goes.”
  • more Schmidt: by the time we were finished Tommy was offering Esposito, Fred Stanfield and Kenny Hodge. I said “what players are you interested in?” and he said “Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin and I need goaltenders.” So I named Jack Norris and he said “it’s a deal.”

That trade changed the fortunes of the Boston Bruins, moving them from sad sack to SC contender and winners. Combined with the acquisition of Eddie Shack (in the same time frame) it gave the Bruins a terrific improvement in size and skill up front and added a great deal of quality. It is often mentioned as the most lopsided trade in history and probably deserves the title. In the 8 years leading up to and including 66-67, Boston had missed the playoffs in a 6-team league that welcomed each season’s top 4. They had not won Stanley in 26 seasons.

The Bruins were a terrible team but their procurement department was delivering quality in a big way. Names like Wren Blair and Baldy Cotton have faded, but their work is all over the expansion draft in 1967 and some Stanley’s in the 70s. Now on to Boston’s draft and the impossible decisions that had to be made in goal.

The Boston Bruins lost a Hall of Famer on draft day, and Montreal was able to keep Rogie Vachon. How? Sam Pollock’s rules. Both were 1945 born, with Parent 5 months older. However, the expansion rules made Vachon ineligible in round 1 and of course they pulled him back after losing Charlie Hodge.

Boston lost 2 outstanding young goalies on draft day, deciding to go with experience instead of potential.

Boston kept Gerry Cheevers, who would play 387 NHL and 191 WHA games after the 1967 expansion draft, and Eddie Johnston who would play 358 more NHL games. They lost Bernie Parent (551 NHL, 63 WHA) and Doug Favell (373 NHL) to Philadelphia in the expansion draft.  The Bruins kept a HOFer and lost one in the goalie portion of the draft.

THE WATERSHED EXPANSION FRANCHISE

BOSTON’S PULLBACKS

  1. Dallas Smith 773
  2. Skip Krake 230
  3. Ron Buchanan 2
  4. Wayne Cashman 1026
  5. Jean Pronovost 998
  6. Bob Heaney 0
  7. Ted Hodgson 0
  8. Ron Murphy 92
  9. John Arbour 104
  10. Glen Sather 653
  11. David Woodley 0
  12. Brian Bradley 0
  13. Ted Snell 104
  14. Wayne Maxner 0
  15. Bob Leiter 313

The Bruins pulled back a total of 4,295 NHL games (2.5 times Toronto’s total) and captured 2 men who would play as regulars on their Stanley teams (Smith and Cashman) and Pronovost who was a very good player for a long time.

It is a great list, but pales in comparison to what they gave up that day. Combined with the goaltenders, Boston gave up about 100 full seasons (!!!!) of NHL play, and that doesn’t count the solid WHA careers below.

SET FREE

  1. Joe Watson 762
  2. Bob Woytowich 350
  3. Poul Popiel 221
  4. Wayne Connelly 371
  5. Ron Schock 781
  6. Terry Crisp 533
  7. Ted Irvine 723
  8. Wayne Rivers 26
  9. Bill Goldsworthy 738
  10. Dick Cherry 139
  11. Bob Dillabough 223
  12. JP Parise 869
  13. Ron Harris 472
  14. Gary Dornhoefer 725
  15. Jeannot Gilbert 0

It is an incredible list. Stunning. 6,933 NHL games, and 7 players who passed 500 NHL games. Added to Parent and Favell, this represents the outer marker for expansion losses (Habs were 3,801 for skaters, Leafs were 4,439).

The Philadelphia Flyers grabbed all of Bernie Parent, Doug Favell, Joe Watson and Gary Dornhoefer that day. Incredible. Oakland drafted JP Parise and Ron Harris deep in the draft and they both had careers.

Boston retained a lot of talent, but man they lost more than anyone else too. More on that in a moment, but I think we can agree that the Bruins could have done better with their pullbacks on draft day–even with the Pollock rules and with the understanding they had a tremendous amount of talent to protect. They did spend time making sure the first year pro’s (like Cashman and Pronovost) were protected, but it cost them dearly and they made poor choices late in the draft.

Boston’s farm system was so productive during the 60s and the final stages of the sponsorship era they could bleed talent and still ice an incredible team. The 1970 Stanley cup Bruins boasted 10 players who came up through the system–Bobby Orr, Rick Smith, Don Awrey, Don Marcotte, Dallas Smith, Wayne Cashman, Eddie Westfall, Derek Sanderson, Jim Lorentz, Danny Schock.

Only Dallas Smith was ever really available to any of the expansion teams and Schmidt pulled him back after losing a similar player in Joe Watson.

I mentioned above that we would address the amount of talent lost on draft day 1967. While astounding, the fact remains Boston’s system always had an answer. Ted Irvine might have been a solution on LW when Ron Murphy was injured, but aside from Irvine there was Cashman and behind him Don Marcotte. On RW, Bill Goldsworthy was a terrific scorer but Hodge, McKenzie and Westfall were more veteran and effective.

The Bruins would romp through the early 1970s, and could have won more than 2 Stanleys, but the Habs of Pollock and some strange decisions in the 1972 expansion draft (leaving Daniel Bouchard unprotected, a move very similar to the Parent decision) hurt them badly. The WHA raids that cost Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie left the team wobbly for a time and then Orr’s knees gave way and there was no one in any system who could make up for it.

The 1967 expansion draft was about many things and so some of them have been lost over the years. The Bruins received $2 million from the expansion clubs–just like the other original 6 teams–but Boston paid in full.

written by

The author didn‘t add any Information to his profile yet.
Related Posts

17 Responses to "THE GREAT EXPANSION VOL 4"

  1. blackdog says:

    Great stuff LT. Wow what a lot of talent they lost, just crazy.

    And that trade. Unbelievable. Old school eh? Coach and player don’t get along, ship out the player. Hawks have Esposito and Hodge and likely 71 and 73 turn out differently. Plus without Espo the Bruins aren’t the same team at all.

    Chicago earned that drought they went through.

  2. Chunklets says:

    Hey, and there’s Poul Popiel! He hung around long enough to have a shot of espresso with the Oil in ’79-’80.

    It’s still mind-blowing that Chicago gave up Esposito AND Hodge for pretty much zilch in return. Makes the Satan trade look fair by comparison… :)

    Anyway, another great installment in this series, sir!

  3. russ99 says:

    It was a bad deal, but I don’t think it affected the Hawks’ fortunes as much as some think.

    The Hawks almost won the Cup in ’71 and ’73 (without Bobby Hull) and Pit Martin turned out to be a really good second line center (centering the MPH line with Jim Pappin and Dennis Hull) culminating in scoring 90 points for the Hawks in ’73.

    Yes, losing Esposito primarily due to a coach was a bad move, but remember Arthur Wirtz (Dollar Bill’s more penny-pinching father) was an old-school hard-nosed owner, and sometimes did things because of their impact on the organization rather than the on-ice product. Who’s to say if Phil Esposito could have ended up in the WHL along with Hull in one of old man Wirtz’s typical lowball contract offers?

    IMO, the Hawks kept the better Esposito: Tony.

  4. VOR says:

    LT, Thank you for a brillaint series!

    RUSS99,

    Phil Esposito for Pit Martin wasn’t a horrific trade. It didn’t work out but given there was apparently off ice conflict certainly not unreasonable. It was the rest of the trade that was so lopsided.

    Chicago, desperate for goaltending , takes Jack Norris and then acquire the other Esposito. My understanding is that they were never on the roster at the same time and in fact that Tony is the biggest mistake Pollock made in the intra-league draft. They also took Gilles Marotte a useful defenceman.

    Hodge became a key part of the Bruins offence. I think you could argue that Chicago should have seen that coming. Hodge was getting better and better almost each game. The press reports from the last half of the season talk extensively about Hodge dominating games.

    I don’t see how anybody could have predicted that Fred Stanfield would become arguably the best two way forward in hockey. Third liners who put up 70 plus points don’t come along very often, even in the live puck era. However, at the time of trade he had played 96 games and scored 9 goals for the Blackhawks and while he checked well Stanfield appeared to have almost zero offence at the NHL level.

    So really if that trade had been Esposito and Hadfield for Martin and Marotte I think you could say it didn’t work out but it wasn’t a bad try. The addition of Hodge and Norris made it a disaster. The description above makes it sound like Chicago’s management were addled. At that point they could have taken Parent instead of Norris.

  5. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Another great post, LT. Both what Boston retained and what they gave up are staggering lists. They may have been one or two good decision (or favourable rule interpretations, eh?) away from a much more comprehensive dynasty than the mini one they did develop.

    Agree with the above two commenters that the Phil Esposito trade wasn’t the most lopsided in hockey history simply because Chicago did receive value in return, just not enough of it. Marotte and especially Martin went on to solid careers.

    I would consider a “something-for-nothing” trade to be more lopsided, at least on a ratio basis. Red Kelly for Marc Reaume. Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov. Kris Draper for a dollar. That sort of thing.

    As for grossly bad multiple-player trades, Mike Milbury had a few beauties, but the worst likely belong to Jack Adams when he took the wrecking ball to the Red Wings dynasty in the mid-50s.

  6. Moosemess says:

    I guess the Gretzky trade isn’t considered the worst in history in Oil Country because we all correctly appraise it as a sale rather than a trade?

    Given the impact it had on the teams involved, the Leeman for Gilmour et al swap was pretty bad. And yes, I am an Oilers’ fan suggesting a Flames trade as the worst ever – cos let’s face it, it’s good fun mocking anything the Flames do.

  7. Reg Dunlop says:

    Great article as always. I admire the research that you do. Top notch.

    Many names in this have an oiler connection; Skip Krake, Ron Buchanan, Sather, Popiel, Goldsworthy, Jack Norris, even Doug Favell who retired rather than suiting up with Gretzky and the boys.
    I have a Derek Sanderson hockey card from the WHA where he is mugging for the camera with a big cigar between his teeth.

  8. commonfan14 says:

    Moosemess: I guess the Gretzky trade isn’t considered the worst in history in Oil Country because we all correctly appraise it as a sale rather than a trade?

    I don’t think we’d have gotten Jimmy Carson out of LA if it had been an outright sale. Hard to remember or accept now, but the kid had just finished 8th in scoring as a 19 year old.

  9. rich says:

    Just comparing the lists of players given up by Boston versus Toronto is staggering. That the “Big Bad Bruins” managed to win 2 cups and make it to a 3rd cup final from 1970-74 and then get to a couple of more finals in 77 and 78 says something about their player procurement and of course – that trade. Schmidt – and then Sinden (I think) knew when to buy Esposito – and when to unload him and did themselves very, very well.

    What Chicago could have been in the late 60′s and early 70′s but for that trade and Wirtz being so cheap. Wow.

    Instead, Montreal’s manipulation of the expansion draft to protect their system bought them 12 years and 8 cups. When all those guys finally got old, there was no one to replace them and I’d argue their cups in 86 and 93 were flukes.

    Seems like Pollock also knew when to get out, and I think Scotty Bowman looking back may be thankful he didn’t become GM (although legend is he was not happy for being passed over for that job). He may not have won anything in Buffalo as coach, but taking Pittsburgh to a 2nd cup and getting a couple of more in Detroit secured his place in coaching lore.

    LT – I hope your series extends beyond the first expansion and goes to the second one as well. That’s the only expansion (pre 1997) that has not produced a cup winner.

  10. OilTastic says:

    yup, the Bruins also drafted Reggie Leach, Rick MacLeish and Dan Bouchard in 1970 (wow!), as well as Ivan Boldirev in 1968, Barry Gibbs, Rick Smith, Ace Bailey and Tom Webster in 1966 (wow!), and get this….Ken Dryden in 1964 !! they sure made a lot of good moves with their drafting in the 60′s!

  11. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Btw, my recollection is that while Esposito & Bobby Hull played together in Chicago, they weren’t a real good mesh — both were shooters first and foremost. Crazy when you think that Hull (7) and Esposito (6) are the only two players in NHL history to win the goal scoring crown (now Rocket Richard Trophy) more than 5 times, and were linemates for several years.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: Yes. Mikita was with Wharram and Mohns on the ‘scooter line’–that was the second version, first being Ab McDonald–and then Hull would play with Esposito and Chico Maki. Plus Nesterenko chimed in too.

  13. Bruce McCurdy says:

    LT: yes that is exactly correct. The pre-expansion Hawks had two scoring lines as good as anyone’s. But beyond Nesterenko their third line always seemed a little underwhelming, and it cost them against deep clubs like Montreal and Toronto.

    Chico Maki – there’s a name. He had the same number as Kelly Buchberger and about as much talent, at least compared to those two giants. But he worked his ass off and skated his ass off and the Chicago Stadium crowd would roar “CHEEEEEE-CO” anytime he looked like he was doing something useful. They just loved the guy.

  14. OilTastic says:

    i can’t help but think that the Hawks effectively traded away many more cups when they traded Phil Esposito….a shame really!

  15. blackdog says:

    Martin was definitely a useful player, probably the second best player in the deal and he had a good long career with Chicago.

    But Phil Esposito was a superstar. We look back and think of a guy like Tim Kerr, sitting in front of the net, banging pucks into the net. And his incarnation as a GM has made him less respected.

    But he was a superstar plain and simple. And Hodge and Stanfield were both good players. Of course you never know what would have appened if Chicago had kept him but considering they wer a goal from a cup in 71 I think its safe to say they would have tipped the scales. Not to mention Boston probably does not win in 70 or 72 without them.

    Not the worst trade in history, maybe not but had huge impact on two franchises.

  16. OilTastic says:

    yup, i was a kid when the Hawks tied the game , i think it was late in the 3rd, of game 7 in Chicago Stadium in ’71, only to watch the Habs come back a few minutes later and score again to go ahead in the game and eventually…steal really, the cup from the Hawks on home ice. at least this is how i remember it so correct me if i’m wrong, i’m only going by memory. i was 10 and almost in tears when that happened. but what if they still had Phil Esposito……

  17. blackdog says:

    Yeah they were up 3-2 in the series I believe and then 2-0 in the final game and Lemaire scored on a slapshot from centre ice I believe. Then Henri Richard tied it up and then won it, the little prick.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

© Copyright - Lowetide.ca