Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 1972 NHL Expansion and Inter-League Drafts

In November, 1971 the NHL awarded two new expansion franchises: one to Atlanta Hockey Inc., to play out of the new Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, and the other to Nassau Sports Ltd., playing out of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, New York. The decision to place teams in Atlanta and Long Island were seen as pre-emptive strikes against the World Hockey Association who might otherwise have operated teams in the new arenas. For the third time in only five years the NHL was expanding.

Like the 1967 and 1970 expansion drafts before it the 1972 draft allowed the new teams, the Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders, to draft players from the existing clubs. The two new teams paid $6,000,000 expansion fees and with those fees were allowed to pick 21 players, three players from each of the 14 existing teams. In other terms they paid $285,714.29 per new player. (The Islanders also paid a $4,000,000 indemnification fee to the Rangers for having encroached upon the Rangers' 'territory', so in a sense the Islanders spent $476,190.48 on each player!)

The rules were similar to the previous expansion drafts in 1967 and 1970: existing teams protected their best players (in this case 15 skaters and two goalies) and the expansion teams could have their pick of the rest. When a pick was made the team losing a player was allowed to add another to its protected list. The existing teams could lose only a maximum of three players, including a maximum of one goaltender. The Seals, Flyers, Canadiens and Blues could exempt themselves from losing a goaltender because they had each lost a goalie in the 1970 Expansion Draft. Montreal and St. Louis chose to leave themselves open losing a goalie again. First-year pros were also exempt.

Like the 1967 Expansion Draft, unlike the 1970 draft, the goaltenders were chosen first. Because each team could only lose one goaltender they didn't have to fill their protected list with another, they could fill with a player of any position. This had particular implications for the Canadiens which I will explain after the table of results.

The draft order was determined by a coin toss and a gentlemen's agreement between Flames General Manager Cliff Fletcher (who, if you're a new hockey fan, you might not know is the father of Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher) and Islanders GM Bill Torrey. The rules were that two coin tosses were to occur to determine who would chose first in the expansion draft and who would chose first in the amateur draft. The winner of the former coin toss would also chose first in the inter-league draft, only participated in this year by the Islanders and Flames. The expansion draft order would reverse after the second round of goalie selections, so that the team who lost the coin toss for first pick (of a goaltender) would get the first choice of skater.

The rules for determining the draft order were similar in 1970, when Sabres GM Punch Imlach won a coin toss for first choice in the intra-league draft and a roulette-esque game of chance over Canucks GM Bud Poile for first choices in the expansion and amateur drafts. Imlach chose Tom Webster with the first pick in the expansion draft, whom he traded to the Red Wings later that day for goalie Roger Crozier, giving him arguably the better goaltending between the two expansion clubs on top of having the first choice of forwards and defencemen. To top it off he had first overall in the amateur draft and chose future hall-of-famer Gilbert Perreault; the Canucks settled for Dale Tallon.

This brings us back to the gentlemen's agreement I mentioned before. Rather than leave themselves open to being on the losing side of both coin tosses, as Bud Poile was in 1970, Fletcher and Torrey decided to have the single coin toss for first overall in the amateur draft (since the amateur draft was expected to produce a future star player while the expansion draft was merely a pick of the dregs of the established teams). The winner of the coin toss would retain first choice in the amateur draft and cede first choices in the expansion and inter-league drafts to the other. Torrey won the coin toss, giving the Flames first choice (of goaltenders) in the expansion and inter-league drafts while the Islanders retained first choice in the amateur draft (and by extension the first choice of skaters in the expansion draft).

The existing teams protected the following players:

Boston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalifornia Golden SealsChicago Black HawksDetroit Red WingsLos Angeles KingsMinnesota North Stars
Goaltenders
Gerry CheeversRoger CrozierexemptTony EspositoAndy BrownGary EdwardsCesare Maniago
Eddie JohnstonDave Dryden Gary SmithAl SmithRogie VachonGump Worsley
Skaters
Don AwreySteve AndersonIvan BoldirevChris BordeleauRed BerensonRalph BackstromFred Barrett
Garnet BaileyMike ByersGary CroteauJ.P. BordeleauGary BergmanDoug BarrieJude Drouin
John BucykButch DeadmarshStan GilbertsonDennis HullArnie BrownSerge BernierBarry Gibbs
Wayne CashmanAl HamiltonJoe JohnstonBobby HullGuy CharronBob BerryBill Goldsworthy
Phil EspositoTim HortonPete LaframboiseDoug JarrettBill CollinsLarry BrownDanny Grant
Ken HodgeJim LorentzReggie LeachJerry KorabAlex DelvecchioMike CorriganTed Harris
Don MarcotteDon LuceBert MarshallCliff KorollGary DoakPaul CurtisBuster Harvey
Fred O'DonnellRay McKayWalt McKechnieDarryl MaggsTim EcclestonButch GoringDennis Hextall
Ron PlumbGerry MeehanGerry PinderKeith MagnusonTom GilmoreJim JohnsonDoug Mohns
Bobby OrrGilbert PerreaultDick RedmondChico MakiLarry JohnstonReal LemieuxLou Nanne
Derek SandersonTracy PrattBobby SheehanPit MartinAl KarlanderBill LesukBob Nevin
Dallas SmithRene RobertPaul ShmyrStan MikitaSerge LajeunesseBarry LongDennis O'Brien
Fred StanfieldPaul TerbencheRick SmithJim PappinNick LibettGilles MarotteMurray Oliver
Carol VadnaisJim WatsonBob StewartPat StapletonMickey RedmondDoug VolmarJ. P. Parise
Mike WaltonRandy WyrozubTom WebsterBill WhiteRon StackhouseJuha WidingTom Reid
Montreal CanadiensNew York RangersPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsSt. Louis BluesToronto Maple LeafsVancouver Canucks
Goaltenders
Ken DrydenEd GiacominexemptCam NewtonJacques CaronBernie ParentGeorge Gardner
Michel PlasseGilles Villemure Jim RutherfordPeter McDuffeJacques PlanteDunc Wilson
Skaters
Pierre BouchardAb DeMarcoBarry AshbeeSyl AppsCurt BennettBobby BaunDave Balon
Yvan CournoyerJim DoreyBill BrossartLarry BignellAndre DupontRon EllisGreg Boddy
Terry HarperBill FairbairnBobby ClarkeDave BurrowsJack EgersBrian GlennieAndre Boudrias
Rejean HouleRod GilbertBill ClementSteve CardwellChris EvansJim HarrisonDave Dunn
Jacques LaperriereVic HadfieldGary DornhoeferDarryl EdestrandFran HuckPaul HendersonJim Hargreaves
Guy LapointeTed IrvineRick FoleyNick HarbarukMike MurphyPierre JarryDennis Kearns
Claude LaroseBruce MacGregorBob KellyBryan HextallDanny O'SheaDave KeonOrland Kurtenbach
Jacques LemaireJim NeilsonRoss LonsberrySheldon KannegiesserKevin O'SheaRick LeyWayne Maki
Frank MahovlichBrad ParkRick MacLeishRick KessellBarclay PlagerJim McKennyGerry O'Flaherty
Pete MahovlichJean RatelleSimon NoletAl McDonoughBob PlagerGarry MonahanRosie Paiement
Henri RichardDale RolfeJean PotvinGreg PolisPhil RobertoMike PelykPoul Popeil
Jim RobertsBobby RousseauDon SaleskiJean PronovostGary SabourinLarry PleauBobby Schmautz
Serge SavardRod SeilingDave SchultzDuane RuppFrank St. MarseilleDarryl SittlerDale Tallon
Marc TardifPete StemkowskiEd Van ImpeRon SchockFloyd ThompsonErrol ThompsonDon Tannahill
J.C. TremblayWalt TkaczukJoe WatsonBryan WatsonGarry UngerNorm UllmanBarry Wilkins

The draft proceeded as follows on June 6, 1972:

OverallPlayer ChosenByFromFill-In
Goaltenders
1Phil MyreAtlanta FlamesMontreal CanadiensChuck Lefley
2Gerry DesjardinsNew York IslandersChicago Black HawksDan Maloney
3Dan BouchardAtlanta FlamesBoston BruinsJohn McKenzie
4Billy SmithNew York IslandersLos Angeles KingsBob Woytowich
Skaters
5Bart CrashleyNew York IslandersMontreal CanadiensBob Murdoch
6Kerry KetterAtlanta FlamesMontreal Canadiens
7Dave HudsonNew York IslandersChicago Black HawksJohn Marks
8Norm GrattonAtlanta FlamesNew York RangersGlen Sather
9Ed WestfallNew York IslandersBoston BruinsNick Beverley
10Ron HarrisAtlanta FlamesDetroit Red WingsLeon Rochefort
11Garry PetersNew York IslandersBoston Bruins
12Larry RomanchychAtlanta FlamesChicago Black Hawks
13Larry HornungNew York IslandersSt. Louis BluesJohn Arbour
14Bill MacMillanAtlanta FlamesToronto Maple LeafsDenis Dupere
15Bryan LefleyNew York IslandersNew York RangersSteve Andrascik
16Randy ManeryAtlanta FlamesDetroit Red WingsRalph Stewart
17Brian SpencerNew York IslandersToronto Maple LeafsGuy Trottier
18Keith McCrearyAtlanta FlamesPittsburgh PenguinsEddie Shack
19Terry CrispNew York IslandersSt. Louis BluesNoel Picard
20Ernie HickeAtlanta FlamesCalifornia Golden SealsWayne Carleton
21Ted HampsonNew York IslandersMinnesota North StarsBob Paradise
22Lew MorrisonAtlanta FlamesPhiladelphia FlyersBill Flett
23Gerry HartNew York IslandersDetroit Red Wings
24Lucien GrenierAtlanta FlamesLos Angeles KingsWayne Lachance
25John SchellaNew York IslandersVancouver CanucksJohn Wright
26Bill PlagerAtlanta FlamesSt. Louis Blues
27Bill MikkelsonNew York IslandersLos Angeles Kings
28Morris StefaniwAtlanta FlamesNew York Rangers
29Craig CameronNew York IslandersMinnesota North StarsGord Labossiere
30John StewartAtlanta FlamesPittsburgh PenguinsKen Schinkel
31Tom MillerNew York IslandersBuffalo SabresDanny Lawson
32Bob LeiterAtlanta FlamesPittsburgh Penguins
33Brian MarchinkoNew York IslandersToronto Maple Leafs
34Pat QuinnAtlanta FlamesVancouver CanucksWayne Connelly
35Ted TaylorNew York IslandersVancouver Canucks
36Larry HaleAtlanta FlamesPhiladelphia FlyersMike Parizeau
37Norm FergusonNew York IslandersCalifornia Golden SealsMarshall Johnston
38Bill HeindlAtlanta FlamesMinnesota North Stars
39Jim MairNew York IslandersPhiladelphia Flyers
40Frank HughesAtlanta FlamesCalifornia Golden Seals
41Ken MurrayNew York IslandersBuffalo SabresJack Taggart
42Rod ZaineAtlanta FlamesBuffalo Sabres

Note that, as I said before, the Canadiens could have exempted themselves from losing another goaltender in an expansion draft (they lost two in 1967 and one in 1970, most of any club up to that point), and chose not to. They had a plethora of talented young goaltenders and were willing to lose one in order to keep a few of their top prospects. Behind closed doors the Canadiens made deals with both the Flames and Islanders so that Montreal would get to keep its pick of prospects. In exchange for taking the players the Canadiens wanted them to take the Flames and Islanders would receive several Canadiens players as compensation at a later date.

When the Flames took Phil Myre first overall in the expansion draft this allowed the Canadiens to protect Chuck Lefley, then a point-per-game player for the AHL's Nova Scotia Voyageurs (Montreal's top affiliate). The Islanders and Flames agreed to take Bart Crashley and Kerry Ketter as the first and second skater selections, allowing the Canadiens to keep Bob Murdoch (defenceman Robert John Murdoch, who played for the Canadiens, Kings and eventually the Flames; not winger Robert Lovell Murdoch, who played for the Golden Seals, Barons and Blues). Over the following couple months the Canadiens made several trades with the Flames and Islanders to compensate them; the Flames ended up with Rey Comeau, Noel Price, Lynn Powis and Ted Tucker while the Islanders got Denis DeJordy, Chico Resch and Germain Gagnon. Going back to the Canadiens were mostly high draft picks and 'cash'. I say 'cash' with scare quotes because it was well understood at the time that the consideration in these deals was not money but rather having followed the Canadiens' draft plans.

Later that day the Flames chose defenceman Bill Speer first overall in the Inter-League Draft. Speer had signed a contract with the WHA's New York Raiders and never played in the NHL again. The Flames chose to pass on the rest of their selections while the Islanders picked four players. Where applicable I have added the NHL team that held the chosen player's rights in parentheses. (Bill Speer's rights were sold to the Providence Reds by the Bruins on Nov. 5, 1971.)

OverallPlayer ChosenByFrom
1Bill SpeerAtlanta FlamesProvidence Reds (AHL)
2Neil NicholsonNew York IslandersSalt Lake Golden Eagles (WHL)
(California Golden Seals)
3Don BlackburnNew York IslandersProvidence Reds (AHL)
(New York Rangers)
4Connie ForeyNew York IslandersHershey Bears (AHL)
(Pittsburgh Penguins)
5Dennis KassianNew York IslandersCincinnati Swords (AHL)
(Buffalo Sabres)

Sources:
"Hockey Draft Is To Start Tuesday". The Spartanburg Herald. Associated Press. (Spartanburg, South Carolina). June 5, 1972. s. B p. 3. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=l4AsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NM0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6650%2C901924
"The protected lists". Montreal Gazette. June 6, 1972. p. 13

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