Bil Gilbert's well-written article on the rattlesnake was definitely the most enjoyable piece of journalism that I have ever read anywhere.
OFF THE LINE
In your NHL article (Off the Line and into the Chips, Oct. 21) you rank the teams according to their relative strength. However, you have overlooked the fact that many other things besides talent go into a strong (and winning) team. If you consider these other factors—team and individual spirit, fan enthusiasm and support, mental attitude and coaching, to name a few—you will find the reason why "the Bruins were embarrassed by Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup finals." Although the Bruins may have more talent than Philadelphia, man for man, when you consider all factors, the Flyers must end up a stronger team than Boston, and hence be favored to repeat as the Stanley Cup champs.
As a longtime fan of the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers, I am shocked to note Coach Fred Shero's interest in the infamous practice of "blood doping."
Blood doping, as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED explained long ago, involves an athlete giving a pint of blood a month or a month and a half before an athletic event, allowing the blood supply to build itself back up, then having the pint transfused to him or her a few days before the event. Thus the athlete allegedly receives an added "lift" from the extra blood.
I hope the league office, which has taken measures to keep the game relatively pure of amphetamines and other attempts to briefly raise a player's natural abilities, will inform Mr. Shero that such a practice as blood doping is unethical, if not illegal.
When shall we see the end of all these chemical and biological attempts to alter a player's strength and quickness, attempts that can only end in moral and physical destruction?
JAMES G. WALKER
In answer to Mark Mulvoy's NHL predictions, I enclose my own:
Most overrated team: Boston Bruins.
Most underrated team: Buffalo Sabres.
Most goals while standing still: Phil Esposito.