Milt Schmidt, new general manager of the Boston Bruins, made the best trade of the season when he got Centers Phil Esposito and Freddie Stanfield and Wing Ken Hodge from Chicago. For the first time in years the Bruins have a potent offense. They also have Bobby Orr, the league's best offensive defenseman last year, who should be the best all-round defenseman with the experience he gained. If Schmidt can avoid the disputes that arose last year between management and players like Ted Green and Ed Johnston, he and young Coach Harry Sinden should have a club that can give Toronto a good fight for the last playoff spot.
In Detroit Sid Abel is using two rookies on defense and hopefully predicting that Goalie Roger Crozier can reverse the atrocious season he had in 1966-67—a doubtful proposition. Gary Bergman could duplicate his good second half of last year; Howie Young could be more consistent; the rookies could work out—and the Red Wing defense would then augment the good offense, and the club would make the playoffs. But this is a lot to ask, and, in addition, the offense may fall off a bit. Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio et al., are growing old very gracefully, but they are still growing old.
The NHL has adopted a fairly silly plan for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Each division will have its own four-team playoff, and then the two winners will meet, sometime around the middle of May, in what could be one of sport's most memorable anticlimaxes. Imagine, for instance, the Canadiens battling through brutal seven-game series with both Chicago and Toronto, and then heading off for Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to play a team they have beaten something like three out of four times? Sounds like a sad mismatch—almost as sad as it sounded last June when people talked about the first time the Los Angeles Kings had to play at Chicago.