Some time ago I wrote deploring the lack of hockey coverage in SI. I feel it only fair and fitting now to compliment you on your special hockey preview (Oct. 11) and a fine article on the New York Islanders by E.M. Swift, who knows more than a little about the game. As a Canadian, a 50-year supporter of the sport and a Montreal Canadiens fan, I am most grateful.
J. DOUGLAS MCGILLIS
Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting out such a great hockey preview: an outstanding job on the NHL by E.M. Swift, whom I have always enjoyed reading, and fine work by Cathrine Wolf on the college preview.
West Lafayette, Ind.
CONTROLLING THE VIOLENCE
Congratulations to E.M. Swift (Earning Their Stripes, Oct. 11) for proposing several changes in the NHL's current officiating scheme. The idea of adding a second referee to officiating crews is a good one. However, I believe it needs to be taken one step further. In order to avoid any "lobbying" by players or coaches during a game, it would be necessary to designate one of the referees the head official for the game. His decision would be final in the assessment of any penalties. Such a system is in use quite effectively in major league baseball.
Buffalo Forward Craig Ramsay showed that there is hope for an age of enlightened thinking when he proposed that officials "call everything." Close adherence to all of the rules is no obstacle to playing good, productive hockey. In Ramsay's case, he entered the current season with only 184 penalty minutes in a career of 922 games.
CHRIS C. FIELD
October 24, 1982
E.M. Swift's call for the two-referee, one-linesman system of officiating as "the obvious solution" to the ills of the NHL seems offside. Swift neatly delineated responsibilities for two referees based on the location and movement of the puck, but he fails to consider the positioning of the referees required for them to effectively and consistently assess penalties. Furthermore, no mention is made of how two referees and one linesman would handle icing, offsides and the two-line offside pass. Clearly, the assessment of offside violations is more important than are judgment calls insofar as the outcome of the game is concerned. And as long as the NHL continues to restrict the natural flow of the game with the two-line offside-pass rule, two linesmen are necessary.
This season ECAC Division I hockey moved from the two-referee, one-linesman system to a one-referee, two-linesmen system for two reasons: 1) better blue-line and center-red-line coverage in the neutral zone by two linesmen (offsides and icing), and 2) consistency in the assessment of penalties. We believe that near-perfect line coverage comes first. And yes, two eyes at a proper angle to the play will be better than four when, often, two of the four eyes could not be in a position to assess infractions properly anyway.
Ice hockey officiating at all levels has its problems and challenges, but isn't it true that officials are charged with controlling what coaches and management teach the players to do in the first place?
BRIAN S. PETROVEK
Eastern College Athletic Conference
•The Western and Central collegiate hockey associations, the ECAC's rival conferences, are still using the two-referee, one-linesman system and believe that it's the best system for the college game—ED.
The right to call any violation should be given to all three officials on the ice. Ten rapidly moving bodies are too much for one official, or even two, to follow. Once tight calls become commonplace, the players will have no trouble adjusting. Witness the Olympics.
The Woodlands, Texas
Granted, hockey officials have a hard time making calls, but is this bad? On the contrary, I think it shows that hockey is an extremely exciting game with few breaks in the action. If every rule had to be followed exactly, the game wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as it is right now.
CHARLES B. HARTWELL
THE ISLANDERS' EXAMPLE
On behalf of all avid Red Wing fans—yes, there are some of us still around—I'd like to thank E.M. Swift for his enlightening article on the New York Islanders' early years (Who Would've Thunk? Oct. 11). Knowing that the '72-73 Islanders were actually worse than the teams we Detroiters have been forced to endure the last 15 years gives all Motown hockey fans high hopes as we anxiously await the beginning of a new era under owner Mike Hitch. New general manager Jimmy Devellano, a former Islander assistant general manager and director of scouting, promises to rebuild the Wings the way his old boss, Bill Torrey, built the Islanders: through the draft. Lord knows we've seen top draft choices traded away for middle-aged has-beens in the past.
Given Devellano's gift for spotting young talent, e.g., Potvin, Gillies, Trottier and Bossy, the Wings' future is brighter than it has been for the last quarter century. I can see the headline for Swift's '85-86 hockey preview article now: The Red Wings—A New Dynasty. O.K., O.K. Maybe '89-90. After all, dynasties aren't drafted overnight.
Mount Clemens, Mich.
What a fine article on the Islanders and their general manager, Bill Torrey. It made me realize that Red Auerbach isn't the only genius in major league sports today.
RICHARD M. ROGERS
West Dennis, Mass.
I was very disappointed to see that the North Stars weren't picked to make the Final Four. This year our slogan for the Stars is: COMING ON STRONG! I predict that Minnesota will take the Islanders to the wire in the '83 finals and that E.M. Swift will have to eat his words.
THE COLLEGE GAME
As a college hockey fan, I was delighted to find that SI has finally seen fit to include an article on the college game in its preseason issue. Moreover, as a University of New Hampshire diehard, I was ecstatic to find that Charlie Holt, a fine coach and true gentleman, was mentioned. But please, UNH is located in the town of Durham, not the city of Manchester as stated in the article.
Lo and behold, SI, you've done it again. Your infamous cover jinx is back, and it hasn't lost its touch. On the Oct. 4 issue you showed Penn State's Todd Blackledge throwing against Nebraska, in a game Penn State ended up winning. Two weeks later Penn State was knocked off by Alabama.
If it's not asking too much, we loyal Pitt fans would appreciate it very much if you would refrain from putting the Panthers on the cover until after they have claimed the national championship.
JOHN M. GUNDERSEN
Please, please, keep Penn State off future covers. Just once we'd like to win a national championship, and you are definitely not helping.
JAY A. ALEXANDER
SINGLE WINGERS (CONT.)
What a delightful article by Rick Telander about the single-wing formation (A Very Singular Way to Play, Sept. 20), especially for an oldtimer like me who coached the single and double wing for more than 20 years. Like all the others, I had to go to the T later.
But what intrigued me was how Telander knew so much about the relationship between Pop Warner and Knute Rockne. It was almost exactly as he so interestingly portrayed it. I saw them first at a coaches' clinic in Dallas in 1929. They carried on in just this fashion, Warner jabbing at Rockne's hippity-hopping backfield and Rockne scorning the grinding-it-out dullness of the double wing. It was a thrilling and inspiring experience for a young coach—Rockne with his great magnetism and Warner with his sound and logical approach.
Thanks for the heavenly view of past giants of the great game of football.
Rick Telander's article on Denison's single wing was singularly excellent. I'm sure Coach Keith Piper has heard stories about the great single-wing teams of Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. in the late '50s and early '60s. Those prep juggernauts not only produced the No. 1-ranked team in the state in 1961, but they also produced Gary Beban, the 1967 Heisman Trophy winner.
Woodrow Wilson High in Los Angeles, under coaches Vic Cuccia and Augie Lambert, was the last high school in Southern California to run the single wing as a basic offense, in 1969. Until these two stopped coaching football at Wilson four years ago there were still plays in the playbook based on the single wing. Cuccia and Lambert turned out two quarterbacks who are in college football right now: Ron Cuccia at Harvard and Steve Clarkson at San Jose State. I still love that single wing. Keith Piper, keep it up!
Woodrow Wilson High School
Rick Telander observes that "most of the great players one hears about from the old days—Jim Thorpe. George Gipp, Tom Harmon, Doak Walker, et al., the legendary 'triple threats'—were tailbacks." The Gipper, of course, is the Notre Dame tailback President Reagan is so proud to have portrayed in the movies. However, the President should perhaps be even more proud that he has the same surname as another notable tailback: Francis Xavier Reagan, the University of Pennsylvania star. As a junior in 1939, Reagan out-gained the great Tom Harmon and, as a senior, led Penn to victories over Army, 48-0. and Yale, 50-7, at the time the worst defeats ever suffered by those teams.
Reagan had a college career that Frank Merriwell would have envied. It began in his sophomore year, when he scored all three touchdowns to lead the Quakers to a 21-0 victory over Yale at the Yale Bowl, ending a 51-year-old jinx. His career ended on a similar high note when he ran for three touchdowns in a 22-20 defeat of Cornell, the winning touchdown coming in the final two minutes on a 20-yard, off-tackle scamper. Oh yes, Cornell had given up only one touchdown on the ground all season and for much of the year had been ranked No. 1 by the AP.
LANDON C. MANNING
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
MOTHER AND SON
Regarding English Channel swimmer Ashby Harper (FACES IN THE CROWD, Sept. 13), did you know that his mother, Roberta Harper, was also featured in FACES sometime back in 1969 or '70?
ROBERTA ASHBY REEVES
•The issue date was Oct. 26, 1970 (see below). Mrs. Harper, who is now 88 and residing in a retirement community outside Philadelphia, continued to play singles and doubles matches until forced to give up tennis at 85.—ED.
Mrs. Roberta Harper, 76, teamed up to win the women's and mixed doubles titles of the Trenton (N.J.) Country Club and reached the semifinals of the women's singles. Her first club championship, for women's singles, was won back in 1924.
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