It took me awhile to appreciate the Edmonton Oilers (Woe, Canada, Aug. 22), but when I realized that I was witnessing the rare combination of the greatest player ever in the sport, Wayne Gretzky, and one of the best teams in hockey history, I could not get enough. Peter Pocklington traded the nucleus of this historic franchise. To rub salt into the wound, Los Angeles, a city undeserving of an NHL franchise, is now in the hockey limelight.
So the Oilers don't have Wayne Gretzky anymore. So what? He's 27 and will retire in four years. They were smart in trading him. Or is it selling him?
I don't think the team will miss Gretzky all that much. Look who's left in Edmonton. Mark Messier is one of the NHL's best players, and certainly the best all-around player I've seen. Grant Fuhr is one of the best goalies. And the Oilers still have Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe, Craig Simpson and Jimmy Carson, along with three extra first-round drafts in the next five years.
Oh, and what is L.A.'s Bruce McNall going to do when Gretzky retires? Buy another player?
I've been a devout Los Angeles Kings fan for more than 18 years, in a city in which most people think a Zamboni is a type of vegetable. The Gretzky trade gives hockey in L.A. stability, publicity and respectability. Hockey will always thrive in Canada, but how sweet it is to think that hockey may finally thrive in this land of palm trees and sun.
As a former SCATS gymnast, I take exception to your article on the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials and the resignation of women's coach Don Peters (They're Riding on Air, Aug. 15). You presented Peters as a man elected to do a job for which he has no credentials. Let me enlighten you. Since becoming coach of SCATS Gymnastics in 1979, Peters has been national coach five times; has been voted Coach of the Year three times; has served as the 1984 Olympic coach; has produced half a dozen Olympians from SCATS; has trained 24 national team members in his gym in Huntington Beach, Calif.; and has sent no fewer than 20 of his SCATS gymnasts off to college on academic or athletic scholarships.
A SCATS gymnast is taught to compete anytime, anywhere and under any coach. Of course it's always nice to have your own, and I would follow Coach Peters to any competition. However, thanks to Peters's philosophy, if I had to follow Bela Karolyi or any other coach, I would do just as well.
Bela Karolyi does not deserve to be the U.S. Olympic women's coach more than Don Peters does. Qualifying three gymnasts for the Olympic team does not mean that a coach is the best choice for that position. More important qualifications are the respect and admiration of your peers and their trust in your integrity and in your ability to do what's right for the U.S. team. If you had done a deeper analysis, you would have found that Peters was the better man for the job. I think a grave disservice has been done the gymnastics community.
Once, in a newspaper item, Karolyi was asked about his relationship with Don. He stated that he would not want to be Don's wife. Well, I am Don's wife and darn proud of it.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
While Charles Lakes is a first-rate talent and Dan Hayden did suffer severe misfortune, the truly remarkable story of the trials, men's division, is that five of the top seven finishers have been, are or will be University of Nebraska athletes coached by Francis Allen. Though not as controversial as Don Peters and Bela Karolyi, Allen ranks with them in turning out world-class gymnasts.