The NHL remained primarily a Mom-and-Pop operation, even after it doubled in size from six teams to 12 in 1967, with more expansion teams starting to arrive for the 1970-71 season.
That was the same season that Jack Gordon was hired as the North Stars' second long-term coach. It was a hire that followed a tradition to be found nearly in all sports:
When the need for a coaching change arises, management usually hires the "opposite.'' In this case, it was replacing a loud, impatient disciplinarian in Wren "The Bird'' Blair with a tactician delivering the message in lower-key fashion in Gordon.
The twist on this was that the fiery Blair also was the original general manager, and he hired Gordon as a completely different personality to coach.
When frustrated previously, Blair already had tried John Muckler for 35 games as coach in the Stars' second season (1968-69) and former player Charlie Burns for 44 games in the third (1969-70). It was Gordon he wanted all along, Blair claimed, when Jack's hiring was announced at the NHL meetings on June 10, 1970.
"I had a handful of coaches with the North Stars,'' Lou Nanne said Tuesday. "Jack definitely was the best. And he was so quiet — an amazing contrast to Blair."
Gordon's quiet nature followed him to his death on June 27, at age 94. Publicly, the news of his passing first appeared in a paid obituary in Sunday's Star Tribune.
"Jack and his wife, Joyce, moved back here a number of years ago, but none of us old hockey guys, that I know of, had talked with him,'' Nanne said. "Jack wasn't going to call up and announce, 'I'm back in town.'"
Tom Reid, North Stars defenseman then, Wild radio analyst since Day One, said: "The last time I saw Jack was at J.P.'s funeral. He also was in for lunch at the restaurant once or twice.''
The restaurant being Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub on West Seventh Street in St. Paul. And J.P. being Jean-Paul Parise, the North Stars' workhorse winger who died on Jan. 7, 2015.
Reid and Nanne offered the same anecdote from the aforementioned Mom-and-Pop NHL on Tuesday: Those in charge of organizing on road trips were the head coach and Doc Rose, the equipment manager.
"Doc would go to the arena with the equipment, and Jack would go on the bus to the hotel and hand out room keys,'' Reid said.
The athletes weren't making much money, but they still enjoyed hockey's reverence for pranks.
On this day in Chicago, Reid and Nanne decided to unzip teammates' bags, so when grabbed off the cart in the hotel, the contents would come spilling out.
Nanne: "Muzz [Murray Oliver] liked Scotch, and he would pack a bottle in his bag. The club looked down on this. And when Muzz's bag was pulled off the cart, that bottle came flying out.''
Reid: "There was a terrazzo floor in the hotel. That bottle went scooting across those stones … clink, clink, clink for a full minute. Wren would've been screaming at all of us.
"Jack didn't even turn around. He didn't want to know what was going on.''
Gordon had the privilege of being the coach on Oct. 14, 1971, when Reid was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped against Montreal, with Ken Dryden as its goalie.
And it's true, Reid said, that when referee Bruce Hood said to Gordon that his offensively challenged defenseman was being awarded a penalty shot, Jack asked sincerely:
"Does he have to take it?''
Reid said, "When I scored, I skated over and yelled, 'Jack, was there ever any doubt?'"
Gordon coached the North Stars for 251 games from 1970 to 1973, stayed in the organization and replaced Blair as general manager starting in 1974 (also coaching 38 more games).
Nanne came off the ice to replace Gordon as the hockey boss in February 1978. Jack stayed on as a scout, then was hired by Vancouver and had a long run in the Canucks front office.
Jack and Joyce were married for 72 years. They stayed in the Vancouver area until 2014, before moving back to the Twin Cities to be near two children, John and Janice, plus two grandkids and three great-grandkids.
And on Tuesday, son John confirmed Gordon's quiet nature, saying: "I think the only people he ever yelled at were the refs.''