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Minneapolis Balked Over Playing Series

Saturday April 13,1963
By Bud Gallmeier
The series that came pretty close to not being played at all, opens tonight at the Memorial Coliseum. That's right. For four hectic hours Wednesday there was more than a little doubt that Minneapolis would play for the Turner Cup, symbolic of the playoff championship in the International Hockey League.

 

"They wanted us to pay all their expenses," reports Komet coach and general manager Ken Ullyot. "And when I refused to do that , they then proposed that we share with them the receipts of all the games here. I still said no."

Ullyot continued, "It's not our fault that they lost money in Minneapolis. We lost some last year, too. We have a chance to make some money this year. Why, then should we share it with them?"

The Komet chief said that Commissioner Andy Muligan informed Minneapolis that if they refused to play they would forfeit the money they have in the leagues treasury, Informed of this, they reluctantly agreed to play.

"Wouldn't that have been awful" Ullyot shuddered. "Why I'd lose in four straight than get a championship by default. I've never heard of anything so ridiculous in all my years in hockey."

Minneapolis' attitude regarding this final series is typical of the Minneapolis-St.Paul viewpoint concerning the IHL. It's no secret that the twin cites would like to bolt the IHL in favor of a pro league, plans for which were allegedly discussed last Monday. We say alleged meeting because, while the St.Paul paper carried a story on the meeting, there is some doubt that the meeting was actually held.

Ken Wilson, the Omaha general manager, was in St.Paul Monday and he told Ullyot that he didn't know about any such meeting. "Some guys got together and talked over such a league, I guess, but it certainly wasn't a formal meeting," Wilson told Ullyot.

It appears quite ironic to us that Minneapolis aspires to being part of a pro operation when their conduct concerning this series has been "bush league" to say the least. We wonder how their players feel about it -- that is if they are aware of it. This series means a considerable hunk of change to the players on both clubs. And like most everybody hockey players are quite fond of money.

It is also quite puzzling to us why Minneapolis feels a pro label is the answer to their hockey ills -- which are considerable. Miller attendance this year was below that of Port Huron -- the smallest city in the league. Minneapolis and St.Paul are the largest cities. And the Flags had a bottom place club most of the season, while the Millers were in contention most of the way.

Minneapolis and St.Paul have been downgrading the IHL most of the season. One story, carried in a Minneapolis paper, quoted a Miller official to this effect: "Amateur Tag Hurts IHL."

This story was carried in the same paper which did not bother to staff the Komet-Miller game of March 21 which had an important bearing on the pennant race. The Millers, at the time, still had an excellent chance to finish first.

Maybe the IHL has its foundation on small cities. But the the IHL has survived for 17 years -- quite a record for any league -- pro or amateur. And the IHL today is much stronger financially than it has ever been. The healthy condition has not resulted from any financial bonanza tossed its way from either Minneapolis or St.Paul.

There are two players on the Minneapolis roster who should have a warm feeling in their hearts for the IHL. They are Bruce Lea and Cy Whiteside. Both started their IHL careers with the Denver Mavericks, who folded after 18 games of the 1959-60 season.

Denver had arrived in Fort Wayne on Dec. 1, 1959, knowing only that they would play at least one more game. We remember that night, We visited the Denver dressing room and Whiteside was pretty sick about it. "We don't know what will happen after tonight," he told us.

Well, Whiteside Lea and the rest of the Mavericks finished the season -- in Minneapolis. The IHL took over the franchise and gave the team to Minneapolis at no charge.

Then there is the case of the Milwaukee Falcons. The Falcons folded after 14 games of the following season. But the league took over the club and kept it on the road for two weeks.

Operating a minor league -- in any sport -- is a struggle. The IHL has had many struggles. But it has always met its commitments -- even if the cost has been high. It doesn't need big cities with bush league attitudes.