Another season of major league hockey is just beginning in six cities of North America. There will be some new faces on the ice and some old faces in new places. And the whole season will be played out in the anticipation of still greater changes ahead as the National Hockey League expands westward. But Artist Roy McKie is a hockey fan less interested in change than in the unalterable verities. Here and on the following pages he sketches some aspects of big-league hockey that should remain unchanged in 1966
Fans have sometimes complained in the past that officials tend to favor one team over another. Whether this is true or not, you can be sure that in some circumstances referees will retain an attitude of strict neutrality.
This year, as before, justice will be swift and clean on NHL ice. The finger of official scorn may be expected time and again to single out the cross-checking roughneck who tries too hard to best an opponent—even if the opponent plainly got the best of the encounter.
Of course, no expense will be spared to insure the safety of the players during each game. Shin guards, shoulder guards and kidney pads will protect the tender parts of their bodies, and thick tempered glass will even make them secure against the fury of outraged fans.
Big-league hockey players may not seem like sentimental types, but their rough features often conceal much finer feelings. And when a coach appeals to them to do better—in a nice way, of course—there is not a one who won't at least try.
Hockey fans, on the other hand, are savage types who will scream for the blood of an old favorite at the slip of a puck. As usual, a middle-aged musical therapist will attempt to soothe them with a repertoire of tunes from the '20s.
Nor shout, nor yell, nor ice, nor flying puck can stay this courier from the completion of his appointed rounds. As a matter of fact, he keeps so busy looking for customers that he's never noticed just what they do out there on the ice.
What a clay pigeon is to skeet, a goalie is to hockey. Small wonder, then, if he tends to be moody. The NHL this year will continue to provide hideaways on the ice where a goalie who wants to be alone can find time to think things over.
And finally, in 1965-66 as in every season before it, big-league hockey will continue to be what it has always been—a fast-moving, wide-open contest of skill and speed and grace, characterized by thoroughgoing good sportsmanship.