NEW FACE ON THE PACE-OFF
At the National Hockey League meetings in Montreal last June an important rule change was made to end the tugging, hauling and crashing that turned face-offs at both ends of the rink into a matter of mass wrestling. The new rule says that there must be no physical contact (body to body or stick to body) between players taking a face-off. It will do away with the practice—used by nearly all teams—of placing a hulking defense man in the face-off circle in the defensive zone and having said bruiser crash into the opposing center, often a little guy. Usually, the center went sprawling, and a defender would swoop down on the puck, clearing it from danger.
The premium now is on a clean "draw," as hockey parlance puts it, and the referee will impose a minor penalty on offenders who make contact with an opponent outside of stick-to-stick contact. And this, of course, will give talented stickhandlers like Montreal's Henri Richard, Toronto's Dave Keon or Boston's Murray Oliver, among others, a chance to exploit their face-off talents without worrying about being driven up into the rafters. It should also open up the game, since players outside the face-off circle must remain in position to take the puck if it comes their way.
Some of the knock-'em-down-and-stomp-'em school are opposing the rule change, saying it will "sissify" the game. Our feeling is that it will improve it, putting a premium on skill as opposed to size and brutality.
MORNING LINE AT VEGAS
After he abandoned his handicapping business in Las Vegas, James (Jimmie the Greek) Snyder was chafed by inactivity. He has now turned to writing an oddsmaking column in the Las Vegas Sun. Here, on some upcoming sporting and politico-sporting events, are the odds as Jimmie figures them:
President Lyndon Johnson is 1 to 5 over Senator Barry Goldwater, "and the price will go higher because it's the trend." Johnson is even money to win by a plurality of five million in the popular vote. In New York State, Robert Kennedy is a 1-to-2 favorite over Senator Kenneth Keating.
The Phils are 1-to-50 favorites to win the National League pennant, but if New York's Yankees win in the American League the Phils will be 3-to-2 underdogs in the World Series.
In the National Football League, Green Bay is a 1-to-2 favorite to win the Western Conference title. In the East, St. Louis and Cleveland are co-favorites, each at 10 to 6.
And, finally, Sonny Liston is favored to beat Cassius ( Muhammad Ali) Clay in their return match in Boston. The price: 11 to 5.