The National Hockey League has changed the format for this year's Stanley Cup finals in order to give the expansion teams in the West Division an advantage. Four of the possible seven games of the series are scheduled for the West Division rink. Traditionally, this home-ice edge has gone to the team finishing higher in the season standings.
Apparently fearing that the Stanley Cup final, matching the East and West Division champions, would fall as flat as the Super Bowl, NHL authorities changed the rule to narrow the gap between the established and the expansion clubs. But they are trying to make the best of a bad thing.
It would have been far better not to have any such Super Puck at all. Last May, the League proposed a playoff system that would have had two East Division teams playing two West Division teams in the semifinals. The finalists, obviously, were likely to be the two East Division teams, but the point of the Stanley Cup, after all, is to match the two best teams in the league.
However, in September, the NHL very quietly scrapped this plan after complaints from West Division teams. The argument was that unless one of its clubs appeared in the final the West Division would be regarded as playing second-class hockey. In the interest of image-building, the NHL has decided to have a second-class Stanley Cup final instead.
Sports administrators in Britain seem to have a penchant for going it alone. First, there was open tennis, and now the association that runs the country's track-and-field events has announced that, beginning this September, Britain will use its own version of the mile, 1,600 meters. Apparently, the standard 1,760 yard mile and its Olympic variant, the 1,500 meters (which is 1,641 yards), are just too messy. Most English tracks are 400 meters around; and the tidy logic behind running a race four times around a track instead of three and three-quarter times is understandable.
While the British are at it, they might well change the distance of the marathon, which is now 26 miles and 385 yards. That distance was established in 1908 at the Olympics in London in order to have the race start on the lawn at Windsor Castle and finish in Shepherds Bush stadium.
HOUSES WITH HOLES
There was a night recently in the new Madison Square Garden when a basketball game was delayed because of rain—through the roof. Then there was the hockey game at which 7,000 fans booed and waved signs which read "obstructed view." And for the first several days the only part of the Garden scoreboard that worked was the neon advertisement. By the end of last week the management was forced to refund the money of angry ticket holders, many of whom could only see the heads of hockey players when they moved into the corners. At least 1,500 seats will have to be raised, and virtually every railing in the Garden is being removed or lowered by workmen.