Serge Savard of the Montreal Canadiens made a blunt comment after the Canadiens swept the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals. "The Flyers were the worst thing to happen to hockey," said Savard. "The way they fight, the way they set the example for the young kids. To sweep them, maybe we put an end to all the crap they stand for."
Savard's inelegant language referred, of course, to the Flyers' bruising method of play, which, combined with Coach Fred Shero's analytical all-rink strategy, made the Broad Street Bullies the dominant team in hockey for the past two or three years. And Savard may be right. Certainly more and more people, disturbed by the Flyers' harsh approach to the game, have been making efforts to counteract their influence, and Montreal's victory can only help their cause.
Perhaps the best antidote is one proposed by Bobby Kromm, coach of the Winnipeg Jets. It is simple, yet could prove highly effective. Under current rules, a player serving a two-minute penalty is released from the penalty box if a goal is scored against his shorthanded teammates during his sentence, one goal being deemed punishment enough. All that Kromm asks is that a player be required to serve the entire two minutes, no matter what happens on the ice during his absence.
"If the price of a penalty turns out to be two goals, even three," he says, "maybe some teams will smarten up." The goons, the headhunters, the penalty amassers, would become detriments to their teams. Hockey would continue to be the fast, rough body-contact sport it should be, but the deft puckhandlers who can do magical things on ice would be at a premium. Admirable finesse would no longer be obscured by blind violence.
WINNING IS THE ONLY THING
Stan Bondelevitch, who in more than two decades of coaching football at Swampscott High in Massachusetts won almost 80% of his games, had some advice for young coaches as he resigned his post last week. "Only take a job in a losing situation," he said. "Build it into a winner and then leave. Once you start winning, people accept nothing else."
Bondelevitch said he was not giving up coaching. "I'll just do it someplace else," he said. "The pressure here was getting to be too much. I was in a sitation where I had to win 11 out of 10."
Manager Rich Donnelly's Sacramento Solons were losing to Spokane 18-3 with one out in the last of the ninth inning when Plate Umpire Joe Pascucci ejected Charlie Bordes of the Solons from the game. It was the last straw of a long night for Donnelly, who said later that Pascucci had thrown out Bordes because someone on the Sacramento bench was riding the umpires and Bordes refused to say who it was. "Pascucci wanted me to tell Bordes to point out the guilty party," Donnelly fumed. "If he did, he could stay in the game. I told Pascucci I wouldn't stand for that kind of bargaining." Donnelly took his team off the field and into the clubhouse. Most of the fans still at the game got up and left.