Experiment Time For Maple Leafs

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Dec. 10) – As my crystal ball from yesterday’s blog so accurately predicted, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was handed a two-game suspension for his hit-from-behind on Boston rookie Kevan Miller late in Sunday’s game at Air Canada Centre.

Now comes the interesting part.

With the National Hockey League’s salary cap reportedly heading northward to $71 million next season, the Leafs will have no trouble retaining Phaneuf after his contract expires on July 1. In fact, an extension could be in place well before the summer. Question is: What sort of term and financial commitment will Dion demand, and to what level of each will David Nonis consent? The second factor could well be influenced by Phaneuf’s absence in difficult assignments for the Blue and White against Los Angeles (tomorrow night at the ACC) and St. Louis (Thursday night at Scottrade Center). How the Leafs can fare without their captain and big-minutes leader on defense isn’t known, for Dion has appeared in all 31 games thus far. We’ll find out… promptly.

It will afford Randy Carlyle the opportunity to determine – albeit briefly – an heir-apparent to Phaneuf (should he somehow not re-sign here), or a fellow blue-liner possibly capable of reducing the nightly burden on Phaneuf. Cody Franson provided ample evidence during last year’s playoff struggle with Boston that he could be that man. Along with other Maple Leaf bloomers, however, Cody has taken a profound backward step this season under Carlyle. Perhaps a couple of games without the Phaneuf cushion will enable Franson to heed the call once again; to re-discover the poise and maturity so detectable last spring.

LEAFS DEFENSEMAN CODY FRANSON – HERE CHECKING FORMER BRUIN RICH PEVERLEY (NOW WITH DALLAS) – TOOK ENORMOUS STRIDES AGAINST BOSTON IN THE PLAYOFFS LAST SPRING. WITHOUT DION PHANEUF FOR THE NEXT TWO GAMES, FRANSON SHOULD BE GIVEN EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY BIG MINUTES. NATIONAL POST PHOTO.

And though winning is undoubtedly foremost on Carlyle’s docket, I would throw neophytes Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner to the wolves against L.A. and St. Louis. Let them play copious minutes without Phaneuf and “man up” against two of the NHL’s premier clubs. Don’t panic – as Carlyle is wont to do – and nail them to the bench after one misadventure. Allow each youngster an opportunity to atone for error and to flaunt their skill. Certainly Gardiner proved more than capable of rising to the occasion against Boston in the playoffs. Why not provide Rielly a big regular-season test in the back-to-back games this week? It’s a perfect chance for the Leafs to find out – in the absence of Phaneuf – what they might possess not too far down the line.

Confidence, after all, can only be gained through opportunity.

JANUARY/MARCH 1969

Continuing with my series of posting images and stories from days-gone-by in the NHL, I present to you here the majority of contents from the January and March 1969 issues of Hockey Pictorial magazine. This publication was an appendage of The Hockey News and could be purchased – for half-a-buck – on news-stands throughout the 60’s and early-70’s. Please enjoy another trip down memory lane:  

MINNESOTA NORTH STARS GOALIE CESARE MANIAGO FEATURED ON COVER.

THE GUMPER – LORNE WORSLEY – WAS IN HIS LAST FULL SEASON AS GOALIE FOR MONTREAL. HE IS SHOWN, BELOW, GETTING HELP FROM TEAMMATE HENRI RICHARD (16) AGAINST EXPANSION PITTSBURGH PENGUINS – AT MONTREAL FORUM – IN 1967-68.

SKATING FOR THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (BELOW) IN 1967-68, GARRY UNGER (17) WOULD BE TRADED TO DETROIT ON MAR. 3 OF THAT SEASON IN THE DEAL THAT SENT FRANK MAHOVLICH TO THE RED WINGS FOR THE PLAYER UNGER IS CHECKING – NORM ULLMAN (7) – ALONG WITH PAUL HENDERSON AND FLOYD SMITH.

RON ELLIS (ABOVE AND BELOW) WAS THE CONSUMMATE MAPLE LEAF DURING HIS NHL CAREER, WHICH SPANNED 15 SEASONS BETWEEN 1964-65 AND 1980-81. THE LEAF ORGANIZATION HAS DONE ELLIS A GRAVE AND PUZZLING DISSERVICE BY NOT NOT HONORING HIM WITH A BANNER-RAISING CEREMONY.

DEFENSEMAN LARRY “HANK” CAHAN PLAYED PARTS OF NINE SEASONS WITH TORONTO AND NEW YORK RANGERS BEFORE EXPANSION. HIS FIRST FULL NHL CAMPAIGN WAS 1967-68, WHEN HE APPEARED IN ALL 74 GAMES WITH CALIFORNIA SEALS (SHOVING BILL FLETT OF LOS ANGELES, BELOW). HE WAS TRADED TO THE KINGS IN JULY 1968.

CAHAN (14) DEFENDS JEAN RATELLE OF NEW YORK RANGERS (ABOVE) WHILE PLAYING FOR LOS ANGELES IN 1968-69. DALE ROLFE (6) IS CAHAN’S DEFENSE-MATE.

IN HIS THIRD NHL SEASON, BOBBY ORR (ABOVE) WAS A HOT MARKETING COMMODITY.

BOB NEVIN (ABOVE AND BELOW) WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE LEAF STANLEY CUP TEAMS IN 1962 AND 1963 BEFORE A BLOCKBUSTER TRADE (FOR ANDY BATHGATE) SENT HIM TO NEW YORK IN FEBRUARY 1964. HE SOON BECAME CAPTAIN OF THE RANGERS.

FRANK ST. MARSEILLE (PRONOUNCED SAN-MARSAY) WAS A KEY FIGURE WITH ST. LOUIS BLUES – COACHED BY SCOTTY BOWMAN – WHEN THE CLUB APPEARED IN STANLEY CUP FINAL IN THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF EXPANSION (1968-69-70).

HARD TO IMAGINE EVEN A CASUAL OBSERVER BEING UNABLE TO IDENTIFY THE PICTURED PLAYER (ABOVE) IN THE JANUARY 1969 CROSSWORD PUZZLE. AND I DON’T THINK YOU’D BE READING THIS BLOG IF YOU WERE AMONG THE INCAPABLE.

ANSWERS TO THIS PICTO-QUIZ APPEAR THREE IMAGES BELOW (DON’T CHEAT).

FORBES KENNEDY (ABOVE) PLAYED WITH PHILADELPHIA AFTER EXPANSION AND FINISHED HIS CAREER AS A TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LEGEND. TRADED TO LEAFS IN MARCH 1969, HE WAS THE CENTRAL FIGURE IN A WILD BRAWL AT BOSTON GARDEN DURING THE ’69 PLAYOFFS. GAME 1 OF THE LEAFS-BRUINS SERIES HAS BEEN WELL-DOCUMENTED THROUGH THE YEARS FOR A BENCH-EMPTYING MELEE SPARKED BY PAT QUINN’S MONSTER HIT ON BOBBY ORR. DURING THE BRAWL, KENNEDY PUNCHED LINESMAN GEORGE ASHLEY IN THE JAW. IT TURNED OUT TO BE HIS LAST NHL GAME.

THE LATE, GREAT JOHN FERGUSON OF MONTREAL CANADIENS.

NEW YORK DEFENSEMAN BRAD PARK CHECKS GORDIE HOWE (ABOVE) ON MARCH 1969 COVER. ALSO PICTURED IS GOALIE JACQUES PLANTE OF ST. LOUIS BLUES.

THE CAREER OF FRANK MAHOVLICH – STAGNANT IN TORONTO AMID THE CONSTANT ABUSE OF PUNCH IMLACH – TOOK OFF ONCE AGAIN AFTER HIS MARCH 1968 TRADE TO DETROIT, WHERE HE PROMPTLY SCORED 49 GOALS ON A LINE WITH GORDIE HOWE AND ALEX DELVECCHIO. THE “BIG M” WAS TRADED TO MONTREAL IN 1971 AND CAPTURED HIS FIFTH AND SIXTH STANLEY CUP RINGS WITH THE CANADIENS. HE LATER RETURNED WITH THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION TORONTO TOROS.

          

WHILE STILL WITH LEAFS IN 1967-68, MAHOVLICH BATTLES CHICAGO DEFENSEMAN GILLES MAROTTE DURING GAME AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. BLACKHAWKS GOALIE IS DAVE DRYDEN (KEN’S OLDER BROTHER). DAVE KEON (14) CIRCLES IN BACKGROUND.

BOB PULFORD (ABOVE AND BELOW) WAS A STALWART CENTER ON THE LEAFS FOUR STANLEY CUP TEAMS IN THE 1960’s BEFORE A TRADE TO LOS ANGELES KINGS PRIOR TO THE 1970-71 NHL SEASON. PULFORD LATER COACHED L.A. AND BECAME A FIXTURE IN THE CHICAGO ORGANIZATION – COACHING AND MANAGING THE BLACKHAWKS.

BOBBY HULL AND STAN MIKITA (ABOVE AND BELOW) WERE KING-PINS OF THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS THROUGHOUT THE 1960’s AND AMONG THE TOP HALF-DOZEN PLAYERS IN THE NHL. DESPITE THEIR PRESENCE, THE ‘HAWKS GENERALLY UNDERACHIEVED – WINNING THE STANLEY CUP ONLY ONCE (IN 1961).

HULL (ABOVE) IN 1968-69.

NORM FERGUSON OF THE OAKLAND SEALS (ABOVE AND BELOW) WOULD FINISH A CLOSE SECOND TO DANNY GRANT OF MINNESOTA IN VOTING FOR THE CALDER TROPHY AS NHL ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR IN 1968-69. BOTH MEN SCORED 34 GOALS.

          

FERGUSON SCORES GOAL (TOP RIGHT) ON DENIS DEJORDY DURING CHICAGO AT OAKLAND GAME IN ’68-69. BLACKHAWKS DEFENSEMAN IS GILLES MAROTTE (2).

FOR NEARLY THREE DECADES (LATE-60’s TO MID-90’s), DICK IRVIN JR. WAS A BROADCASTING FIXTURE IN MONTREAL – FIRST ACCOMPANYING THE LEGENDARY DANNY GALLIVAN ON CANADIENS TELECASTS; LATER BECOMING RADIO VOICE OF THE HOCKEY CLUB. IRVIN IS A MEMBER OF THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME.

          

IRVIN IS PICTURED TOP-LEFT WITH CANADIENS SUPERSTAR MAURICE (ROCKET) RICHARD AND TOP-RIGHT WITH HIS FATHER – DICK IRVIN SR. – ONE OF THE NHL’s GREATEST ALL-TIME COACHES WITH TORONTO AND MONTREAL.

NO CHEATING, AGAIN. ANSWERS ARE FIVE IMAGES BELOW.

HOCKEY PICTORIAL ADVERTISING (ABOVE AND BELOW).

FEATURES (ABOVE AND BELOW) APPEARED IN ALL ISSUES OF THE MAGAZINE.

THANKS FOR NOT CHEATING.

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