MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Everybody should have been happy when hockey's Super Bowl on ice, a dream match between NHL stars and Russia's veteran state amateurs, was scheduled for this coming September. Four games in Canada, four more in Russia, and that would answer the long-standing question: Is Russia, winner of three Straight Olympic titles and nine straight world championships (before being upset by the Czechs in March), equal to the National Hockey League's best?
Players generally were excited by the prospect. "I'd love to play," said Brad Park of the New York Rangers. "It's a hell of an idea." Derek Sanderson of the Boston Bruins said, "Anytime, anywhere, any rink and under any conditions." Red Berenson, president of the NHL players' association, said he thought most of his colleagues would feel honored to be a part of the team. It's love of the game," he said. "We represent the best hockey in the world. It would be the NHL vs. international hockey."
But several NHL owners were vigorously opposed to letting their stars play in the games, ostensibly because they fear the possibility of disabling injury. "No way!" said Boston's Weston Adams Jr. when asked if he would give permission for Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito to appear against the Russians. The St. Louis Blues took a similar stand, and Punch Imlach, crusty coach of the Buffalo Sabres, attempted to deflate the entire idea by growling, "Besides, we're playing the wrong team. The Czechs are the world champions."
Technically, yes. But not really. The Russians are the team the pros want to meet. Let them play. It will be fun to watch and a stimulus for hockey.
The University of Minnesota's film highlights of the 1971-72 basketball season, in which Minnesota won its first undisputed Big Ten championship in 53 years, does not include anything on its Jan. 25th game with Ohio State.
Another low spot for Minnesota is its financial situation. Athletic Director Paul Giel says that next year his department may have to ask the Minnesota legislature for financial aid. Giel feels that any expected increase in football attendance will not put much of a dent in a current deficit of $300,000, and it might not even be enough to take care of anticipated increases in expenses, including coaches' salaries. Years ago, big-time college sport was not only financially independent, it supported other activities as well. In 1937 Minnesota's athletic department contributed $100,000 toward the building of the campus student union, and it was the financial angel of the physical education department. Now physical education is separate from intercollegiate sport and is supported directly by the university administration.
Giel's headache is one shared by athletic directors in many schools, where even winning football and basketball teams, with concomitant high attendance, are not paying their own way.
DOWN TO THE SEA