TO NHL OR NOT TO NHL
Hockey's expansion plans, which were announced in September, are not going quite as smoothly as the NHL had anticipated. The league had said that two new franchises would be accepted, that the price for each franchise would be $6 million and that applications should be submitted by Nov. 1, with a deadline of Dec. 1. Because of the extraordinary growth of interest in hockey, it was expected that applicants would be beating on the door, since informal applications had previously been received from Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, Vancouver and Washington.
But as of last week not one formal application had been filed, and Buffalo and Vancouver were the only cities in which there seemed to be serious talk about applying. The cost of building a suitable rink is a stumbling block for some of the cities, and so is that initiation fee. But another difficulty is the quality of the players the new teams would receive. In the proposed expansion draft the old clubs can protect two goalies and 15 players. In the 1967-68 expansion the old clubs could protect only one goalie and 11 players (and the price then was only $2 million).
Even so, the NHL was confident that applications would be received and expansion achieved. Sam Pollock, general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, said there was not the remotest possibility that the NHL would not have two new teams next season. And as for the cost, David Molson, president of the Canadiens, says that in view of hockey's bright future the $6 million price is a bargain.
Michigan was not overwhelmed this fall with demands for tickets to its traditional game with Ohio State, which is to be played in Ann Arbor on Nov. 22, so authorities there did the wise thing. They shipped a big batch of tickets down to Columbus, where there is always a market for football. And, sure enough, the Ohio Staters so far have sold more than 20,000 (even though the game will be played 170 miles away), which surely must be an alltime record for ticket sales by a visiting team.
We usually do not print tips for sneak thieves, second-story men and others of that persuasion but, fellows, listen: be in Columbus on Nov. 22. You'll have a field day. Won't be anybody home.
NOT THE YEAR OF THE CRAB
Baltimore is taking a constant ribbing because of the successive defeats inflicted this year on its Colts, Bullets and Orioles by New York's Jets, Knicks and Mets. Now a gleeful news hound informs us that in the Mid-Eastern Parachute Association championship, held the other day in New Hanover, Pa., Lonnie Brown of New York outdropped the defending champion, John Crews. And where is Crews from? Yup.
Auctions are where you are supposed to pick up bargains, but bargains at horse sales these days are hard to find. "This is what I call an idiot's convention," said a veteran harness-horse trainer last week as he and his colleagues gathered at the Harrisburg (Pa.) Sales, where almost $5.5 million was paid out for standardbred yearlings. "People are throwing around incredible amounts of money."