From the Montreal Canadiens website:
During a scouting trip that year that included a look at the Red Wings’ affiliate in Omaha, Canadiens general manager Frank Selke was blown away by the performance of a promising young prospect named Gordie Howe. After doing a little digging, Selke discovered that Howe had been left off the Red Wings’ negotiation list by Knights coach Tommy Ivan, making the future Mr. Hockey available for any NHL club wishing to claim him.
Before heading back to Montreal, Selke stopped into Detroit to have a little chat with Red Wings GM Jack Adams.
“I can tell you that you have an Omaha Knights player who is better than any of the protected players on your negotiation list,” warned Selke. “You have one day to claim him, otherwise the Canadiens will sign him.”
Wisely, Adams took Selke’s warning to heart, quickly determined the player in question was Howe, and then added him to Detroit’s negotiation list.