With a roundhouse right to the ankle, the National Hockey League has struck its first blow against Bobby Hull in retaliation for Hull's $2.75 million defection to the World Hockey Association. Hull was the only WHA recruit named last week to the squad of Team Canada, which will play an eight-game series against the U.S.S.R. in September—one of the most interesting hockey confrontations of all time. But, as part of their agreement to provide players for Team Canada, the NHL owners—13 of the 16, incidentally, are Americans—stipulated that no one could play unless he had signed his NHL contract by Aug. 13, starting day of Team Canada's training camp. Hull, of course, already had signed with Winnipeg of the WHA. Five other Team Canada players—Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers of Boston, Brad Park and Rod Gilbert of New York and J.C. Tremblay of Montreal—have not yet signed NHL contracts and are presumed to be negotiating with WHA teams.
The NHL's actions enraged not only Hull but millions of Canadians who have suffered for more than a decade as the Russians repeatedly routed their teams in amateur and Olympic hockey competition. A Toronto paper bannered: NHL SAYS BOBBY CAN'T PLAY FOR OUR TEAM. Citizens from Nova Scotia to British Columbia fired telegrams to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asking him to intervene in Hull's behalf. Trudeau agreed with the fans but refused to countermand the law on grounds that to do so might jeopardize the contest itself.
"It's obviously the NHL against the Russians," Hull said. "Not Canada. Now they'll have to change the name of the team to Hockey NHL. If the NHL can call it Team Canada and still look at themselves in the mirror, then let them go to it. It's about time everyone realized what type of organization they [the NHL] are."
As the brouhaha between Hull and the NHL escalated to the point where it was a main topic of informal conversation in the House of Commons, there was at least one sensible NHL owner who sided with Hull. "I don't give a damn if Hull plays in China," said Harold Ballard of the Toronto Maple Leafs, "he's still a Canadian citizen."
AND IN THIS CORNER...
Women's Lib could scarcely ask for more than what has happened to Barbara B. Dunn. Mrs. Dunn, mother of three, has been appointed boxing commissioner de facto of Connecticut, where there is no boxing. And Mrs. Dunn never has seen a professional fight.
The sport was outlawed by the state's General Assembly in 1965, but has been reinstated. The likelihood, though, is that there will be no boxing in Connecticut until October 1973. Mrs. Dunn, who has been consulting with such oldtime fighters as Willie Pep, the world featherweight champ of other days, and Chico Vejar, welterweight star of TV's boxing heyday, estimates that it will take a year for her to draft a set of boxing regulations for the state.
THE BIGGER THEY ARE
Steve Michalik's unexpanded chest measures a staggering 52 inches. His thighs are 28 inches, his waist only 27. His upper arms are 20 inches around, his forearms 16. He is Mr. America 1972.