They went together like ham, eggs and home fries. Playmaker Hay won the rookie-of-the-year award, and Balfour turned out to be the kind of hard-digging corner man every good line needs. He and Hay both scored 18 goals, a record roughly equivalent to a .300 batting average in baseball.
At this point General Manager Tommy Ivan says he wouldn't take a million dollars for the Hull line and, as if to prove it, he has done all he can to back it up. Goalie Glenn Hall, three times an All-Star, is as good as any in the league. Chicago's defensemen are seasoned and truculent. If Center Ed Litzenberger has recovered from the emotional crisis of an automobile accident in which his wife was killed last winter, he should again be the 30-goal man he used to be. Aging Center Tod Sloan is a steady balance wheel. Ab McDonald, Stan Mikita and bellicose Reg Fleming are among the league's most promising young forwards.
A sound team and certainly an entertaining one, the Hawks at this point fall just short of being a really superior one. It is distinctly possible, however, that the tide of power in the NHL may be slowly swinging from Montreal to Chicago, just as it swung from Detroit to Montreal not so long ago. In recent weeks the Canadiens have faltered time and again. They have lost the great Rocket Richard, and their veterans are fast growing old. For example, Defense-men Doug Harvey, 36, and Tom Johnson, 32—the NHL's best—are in their 14th and 11th seasons, respectively. When the time comes, it will be hard to replace them.
All over the league, coaches and managers are praying and searching for signs of greatness in their youngsters. In 22-year-old Carl Brewer, Toronto has a defenseman who has the potential to be one of the finest. New York has Jack McCartan, the Olympic hero, and Jack not only has great promise but real magnetism at the box office. Montreal, of course, has its great reputation. But right now none of them has what Chicago has, for Chicago has Hull, and Hull has everything.