Sunday, November 17, 2013

1974 NHL Expansion Draft

The Background

Let me set the scene for you. It's June, 1972. The National Hockey League is a sixteen-team circuit, with new teams in Atlanta and on Long Island, New York having just finished participating in an expansion draft. The new teams will begin play in the fall of 1972. So too will the World Hockey Association, an upstart twelve-team league founded by a pair of mavericks whose primary objective is to disrupt the professional hockey business.

To get started the WHA needed two things: players and places to play. They would have to compete with the old-guard NHL for both. Players would come after promises of substantially more wealth. Finding places to play was more difficult. Half of the WHA member clubs were based in smaller cities that the NHL had no serious intention of ever expanding to: Cleveland, Edmonton, Houston, Ottawa, Quebec City and Winnipeg. In those cities they would only have to face competition for hockey fans from minor league and junior teams. The other half of the league took the NHL head-on in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Not only were these teams vying for the same hockey fans as the NHL teams they were also vying for arenas to play in.

The WHA's New York Raiders (the name cheekily referencing the WHA's 'raiding' the NHL) were going to play at the planned arena in the 'burbs on Long Island. The NHL saw this coming and made their first pre-emptive strike against the WHA: they granted an expansion franchise to play on Long Island at the new arena. The New York Islanders as they became known signed a long-term lease at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the WHA was shut out. The Raiders had to settle for an exorbitantly expensive lease in Manhattan, at Madison Square Garden. The Raiders would also have to settle for whatever leftover dates they could get after the Rangers and NBA's Knicks had priority.

The New England Whalers signed a lease with the Boston Garden. As was the case with the Raiders in New York the Whalers had to compete for dates at the Garden with the NHL's Bruins and NBA's Celtics. When the Garden was unavailable they made do at the much smaller Boston Arena, home of Northeastern University's hockey team and former home of the Bruins.

By contrast the Chicago Cougars were unable to secure ice time at Chicago Stadium. They hoped to play at a new suburban arena but financing for the arena project wasn't secured in time for the season (the Cougars' owners, brothers Jordon and Walter Kaiser, were eventually unable to secure any financing at all and sold the team to players Ralph Backstrom, Dave Dryden and Pat Stapleton in 1974; the team folded in 1975, five years before the proposed arena in Rosemont was built and opened). They were forced to play games at the International Amphitheatre, originally built in the 1930s to host livestock exhibitions. Similarly the Philadelphia Blazers were forced to play games at the Philadelphia Civic Center, former home of the NBA's 76ers.

The Los Angeles Sharks had the luxury of a pair of venues being available: the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and Long Beach Arena. The NHL's Kings were forced to build their own arena in 1967, The Forum, because the WHL's Los Angeles Blades held the lease at the Memorial Sports Arena.

St. Paul, Minnesota built its own new pro sports arena in the early '70s and the Minnesota Fighting Saints became the first tenant of the St. Paul Civic Center in downtown St. Paul.

Arenas were as much a driving force in the locations of the WHA's franchises as they were in the NHL's choices for expansion franchises. The 1972 expansion to Long Island and Atlanta was a deliberate effort to keep WHA teams out of the arenas and to limit the WHA's growth. The story was the same in the next round of expansion. Kansas City, Missouri was building a new arena for the NBA's Kansas City Kings and Washington, D.C. planned a new arena in downtown, tentatively called the Eisenhower Memorial Center. In order to keep the WHA out the NHL let Washington and Kansas City in. Expansion franchises were awarded to Baltimore Bullets owner Abe Pollin in Washington and an enormous group (more than 30 individuals) in Kansas City on June 8, 1972. The teams would begin play in 1974.

Pollin's downtown arena never materialized and he built his own arena instead, the Capital Centre, in suburban Largo, Maryland. He chose to name his new hockey team the Capitals, and hired outgoing Boston Bruins general manager Milt Schmidt as his GM in April, 1973.

The Kansas City group was originally going to name their club the Mohawks: 'MO' for Missouri and 'Hawks' as a reference to Jayhawkers, a nickname for Kansans. That was quashed by the Black Hawks' owners. There was only room enough in the NHL for one team nicknamed 'Hawks'. The owners hired St. Louis Blues GM Sid Abel, formerly of the Red Wings, in April, 1973 to take up the same post and begin building the team. The team was named 'Scouts' in June of 1973 after the statue in the city's Penn Valley Park.

The Rules

The rules of the 1974 expansion draft were almost exactly the same as they were in 1972. The existing clubs were allowed to protect 15 skaters and a pair of goaltenders, and the teams who lost goaltenders in the 1972 draft—Canadiens, Black Hawks, Bruins and Kings—were allowed to exempt themselves from losing a goalie in 1974. The Canadiens and Kings left themselves open to losing a goaltender again. The existing teams would lose three players each, including a maximum of one goaltender, and each selection would be followed by a fill-in player added to the team's protected list. The expansion clubs would chose a pair of goaltenders and 22 skaters each.

The amateur draft was held by conference call and earlier than normal (May 28th, 29th and 30th) in order to keep the WHA from knowing who chose who and giving the NHL a head start in contract negotiations with the players. The Capitals won a coin toss over the Scouts for the first selection in the amateur draft so first choice in the expansion draft two weeks later was given to the Scouts.

The draft began at 2:00 pm on June 12, in the Grand Salon of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

The Protected Lists

Atlanta FlamesBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalifornia Golden Seals
Dan BouchardexemptGary BromleyGilles Meloche
Phil Myre Rocky FarrGary Simmons
Curt BennettJohnny BucykLarry CarriereMike Christie
Dwight BialowasWayne CashmanRick DudleyLen Frig
Jerry ByersGary DoakNorm GrattonStan Gilbertson
Rey ComeauDarryl EdestrandBill HajtHilliard Graves
Buster HarveyPhil EspositoJerry KorabDave Hrechkosy
Ed KeaDave ForbesJim LorentzSpike Huston
Bob LeiterKen HodgeDon LuceJoey Johnston
Jean LemieuxDon MarcotteRick MartinWayne King
Randy ManeryTerry O'ReillyGerry MeehanAl MacAdam
Bob MurrayBobby OrrBrian SpencerTed McAneeley
Noel PriceDerek SandersonGilbert PerreaultJim Neilson
Pat QuinnBobby SchmautzCraig RamsayCraig Patrick
Jacques RichardGregg SheppardRene RobertBob Stewart
Larry RomanchychDallas SmithMike RobitailleStan Weir
John A. StewartCarol VadnaisJim SchoenfeldLarry Wright
Chicago Black HawksDetroit Red WingsLos Angeles KingsMinnesota North Stars
exemptDoug GrantGary EdwardsCesare Maniago
 Jim RutherfordRogie VachonFern Rivard
Ivan BoldirevRed BerensonBob BerryChris Ahrens
Germain GagnonThommie BergmanGene CarrFred Barrett
Dennis HullHenry BouchaMike CorriganJude Drouin
Doug JarrettRon BusniukButch GoringBarry Gibbs
Cliff KorollGuy CharronTerry HarperBill Goldsworthy
Keith MagnusonMarcel DionneSheldon KannegiesserDanny Grant
Chico MakiJean HamelNeil KomadoskiDennis Hextall
John MarksBill HogaboamDon KozakDon Martineau
Pit MartinPierre JarryDan MaloneyLou Nanne
Stan MikitaNick LibettBob MurdochDennis O'Brien
Jim PappinJack LynchMike MurphyMurray Oliver
Dick RedmondHank NowakFrank St. MarseilleJ.P. Parise
Phil RussellMickey RedmondVic VenaskyTom Reid
Dale TallonDoug RobertsJuha WidingFred Stanfield
Bill WhiteBryan WatsonTom WilliamsRon Wilson
Montreal CanadiensNew York IslandersNew York RangersPhiladelphia Flyers
Ken DrydenChico ReschEddie GiacominBernie Parent
Wayne ThomasBilly SmithGilles VillemureBobby Taylor
Pierre BouchardCraig CameronJerry ButlerBill Barber
Yvan CournoyerDave FortierBill FairbairnTom Bladon
Guy LafleurBilly HarrisRod GilbertBobby Clarke
Yvon LambertGerry HartEd IrvineBill Clement
Jacques LaperriereLorne HenningWalt McKechnieGary Dornhoefer
Guy LapointeErnie HickeGilles MarotteAndre Dupont
Chuck LefleyGary HowattBrad ParkBob Kelly
Jacques LemaireWalt LedinghamJean RatelleOrest Kindrachuk
Pete MahovlichBilly MacMillanDale RolfReggie Leach
Henri RichardBert MarshallLarry SacharukRoss Lonsberry
Jim RobertsBob NystromRod SeilingRick MacLeish
Larry RobinsonJean PotvinPete StemkowskiDon Saleski
Serge SavardDoug RomboughWalt TkaczukDave Schultz
Steve ShuttRalph StewartSteve VickersEd Van Impe
Murray WilsonEddie WestfallBert WilsonJim Watson
Pittsburgh PenguinsSt. Louis BluesToronto Maple LeafsVancouver Canucks
Andy BrownEddie JohnstonDoug FavellBruce Bullock
Denis HerronWayne StephensonDunc WilsonGary Smith
Syl AppsDon AwreyWillie BrossartGregg Boddy
Chuck ArnasonAce BaileyTim EcclestoneAndre Boudrias
Dave BurrowsBill CollinsRon EllisDavid Dunn
Nelson DebenedetDave GardnerGeorge FergusonJohn Gould
Ab DemarcoWayne MerrickBill FlettJocelyn Guevremont
Steve DurbanoBrian OgilvieBrian GlennieDennis Kearns
Vic HadfieldBarclay PlagerRick KehoeBobby Lalonde
Bob “Battleship” KellyBob PlagerDave KeonDon Lever
Ron LalondePierre PlanteJim McKennyLarry McIntyre
Bernie LukowichGreg PolisGarry MonahanChris Oddleifson
Lowell MacDonaldPhil RobertoMike PelykGerry O'Flaherty
Bob ParadiseGlen SatherGary SabourinTracy Pratt
Jean PronovostFloyd ThomsonDarryl SittlerBarry Wilkins
Ron SchockGarry UngerErrol ThompsonJim Wiley
Ron StackhouseRik WilsonNorm UllmanBrian McSheffrey

The Draft

Ovr.PlayerPicked ByPicked FromFill-In
1Michel PlasseKansas City ScoutsMontreal CanadiensJohn Van Boxmeer
2Ron LowWashington CapitalsToronto Maple LeafsLyle Moffatt
3Peter McDuffeKansas City ScoutsNew York RangersRon Harris
4Michel BelhumeurWashington CapitalsPhiladelphia FlyersJoe Watson
5Simon NoletKansas City ScoutsPhiladelphia FlyersTerry Crisp
6Dave KryskowWashington CapitalsChicago Black HawksJ. P. Bordeleau
7Butch DeadmarshKansas City ScoutsAtlanta FlamesKeith McCreary
8Yvon LabreWashington CapitalsPittsburgh PenguinsJean-Guy Lagace
9Brent HughesKansas City ScoutsDetroit Red WingsClaude Houde
10Pete LaframboiseWashington CapitalsCalifornia Golden SealsMorris Mott
11Paul TerbencheKansas City ScoutsBuffalo SabresLarry Mickey
12Bob GrypWashington CapitalsBoston BruinsAl Simmons
13Gary CoalterKansas City ScoutsCalifornia Golden SealsDel Hall
14Gord SmithWashington CapitalsLos Angeles KingsBob Nevin
15Gary CroteauKansas City ScoutsCalifornia Golden Seals 
16Steve AtkinsonWashington CapitalsBuffalo SabresJoe Roberts
17Randy RotaKansas City ScoutsLos Angeles KingsLarry Brown
18Bruce CowickWashington CapitalsPhiladelphia Flyers 
19Lynn PowisKansas City ScoutsChicago Black HawksDuane Wylie
20Denis DupereWashington CapitalsToronto Maple LeafsJohn Grisdale
21John WrightKansas City ScoutsSt. Louis BluesLarry Giroux
22Joe LundriganWashington CapitalsToronto Maple Leafs 
23Ted SnellKansas City ScoutsPittsburgh PenguinsDuane Rupp
24Randy WyrozubWashington CapitalsBuffalo Sabres 
25Chris EvansKansas City ScoutsDetroit Red WingsCharlie Shaw
26Mike BloomWashington CapitalsBoston BruinsAndre Savard
27Bryan LefleyKansas City ScoutsNew York IslandersNeil Nicholson
28Gord BrooksWashington CapitalsSt. Louis BluesMurray Kuntz
29Robin BurnsKansas City ScoutsPittsburgh Penguins 
30Bob CollyardWashington CapitalsSt. Louis Blues 
31Tom PelusoKansas City ScoutsChicago Black Hawks 
32Bill MikkelsonWashington CapitalsNew York IslandersVic Teal
33Kerry KetterKansas City ScoutsAtlanta FlamesMorris Stefaniw
34Ron AndersonWashington CapitalsBoston Bruins 
35Normand DubĂ©Kansas City ScoutsLos Angeles Kings 
36Mike LampmanWashington CapitalsVancouver CanucksJim Mair
37Richard LemieuxKansas City ScoutsVancouver CanucksLarry Gould
38Lew MorrisonWashington CapitalsAtlanta Flames 
39Dave HudsonKansas City ScoutsNew York Islanders 
40Steve WestWashington CapitalsMinnesota North StarsRod Norrish
41Ken MurrayKansas City ScoutsDetroit Red Wings 
42Larry BolonchukWashington CapitalsVancouver Canucks 
43Dennis PattersonKansas City ScoutsMinnesota North StarsBlake Dunlop
44Murray AndersonWashington CapitalsMinnesota North Stars 
45Ed GilbertKansas City ScoutsMontreal CanadiensClaude Larose
46Larry FullanWashington CapitalsMontreal Canadiens 
47Doug HorbulKansas City ScoutsNew York RangersJohn Bednarski
48Jack EgersWashington CapitalsNew York Rangers

Once again Canadiens GM Sam Pollock used the rules to manipulate the results in his favour with a masterful touch. He had used three goaltenders in the '73-'74 season: Michel Larocque, Wayne Thomas and Michel Plasse. Ken Dryden had taken the year off after contract negotiations broke down, but Dryden would be back for '74-'75. Pollock knew he could afford to lose another goalie and did so so that he could keep one of his other players. When Plasse was chosen by the Scouts first overall the Canadiens added John Van Boxmeer to their protected list. Neither the Scouts nor the Capitals were interested in Claude Larose, the only other notable player left off the protected list by the Canadiens.

The Scouts and Capitals were the unfortunate victims of the rise of the WHA and arguable over-expansion by the NHL: the talent pool was notably thin for this expansion draft. You may have noticed that a few notable players were left off the protected lists, such as Frank Mahovlich of the Canadiens and Dave Dryden of the Sabres. It was already known that these players were going to the WHA.

Several newspapers (Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette for example) commented that this draft was easily the worst expansion draft yet, and the $6,000,000 expansion fees exacted from the Capitals and Scouts was the most amount of money paid for the least amount of talent in any expansion draft to date at the time. Several players didn't play in another NHL game again after this draft, and many more played less than a season's worth. In fact Tom Peluso, chosen 31st overall by the Scouts from the Black Hawks and Steve West, chosen 40th overall by the Capitals from the North Stars, never played in the NHL at all.


  1. Mark,

    The NHL for years made first year pros ineligible for expansion or summer drafts.
    Didn't this policy change sometime during the 70s?


    1. If the rule on 1st year players changed, it was not in time for this draft. Note that future stars such as Dennis Potvin, Lanny McDonald, and Bob Gainey are not on the protected list; they had been amateur draft picks the year before. What I've never been able to figure out is why 1973 first rounders Blake Dunlop and Andre Savard show up as fill-ins.

      Also, in his defense, Steve West, who had led the AHL in scoring the previous year, signed with the WHA almost immediately after the draft. So while he never played in the NHL, he did get in 100 or so games in the "other" league.

      Thanks for publishing this, I'd never seen the protected lists before.

    2. Thanks for reading and commenting, John.

      The only plausible reason I can think of for making Dunlop and Savard fill-ins was that the North Stars and Bruins respectively wanted to rid themselves of the contracts of some of their farmhands. E.g. instead of the North Stars using their second fill-in to protect Murray Anderson they put Dunlop on the list—despite the fact that Dunlop wouldn't have been eligible for selection anyway—so that one of the Scouts or Capitals were forced to take Anderson or another player like him. As far as I know there was nothing in the rules that said a first-year player couldn't be protected even though he didn't have to be. It begs the question why they wouldn't have protected a minor-leaguer they wanted to keep but perhaps it didn't really matter to them who they lost and they were just happy to have a player's salary off the books.

      In retrospect the final paragraph does read a little unfair toward a player like West, who was talented enough to win the Sollenberger Trophy. It may be a minor league scoring title but it's still no small feat. It's a good example of how tough the Scouts and Capitals had it in 1974, having to compete not only against the incumbent NHL clubs (who in my mind stacked the deck against them) but against the WHA clubs too. Everybody was fighting to sign players and it was especially hard on an expansion team trying to establish themselves in the first place.

      It makes me wonder what might have happened to the Scouts if the expansion process was a little more generous and they didn't have to deal with the WHA signing away players. Then again if not for the WHA the NHL might never have plunked a team down in Kansas City to begin with.



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