Kudos to Ken Dryden for a thoughtful, objective analysis of the state of hockey in North America today (A Game in Search of Some Contests, Oct. 8). Dryden, the consummate competitor on the ice, has pinpointed problems and offered solutions for a wonderful game that needs help. National Hockey League executives have watched Dryden perform brilliantly for years. Now they should begin listening to him.
NFL Management Council
New York City
The saying goes: "If 10 men tell you you're, drunk, you'd better lie down." Well, in the past decade more than 10 men have tried to warn ice hockey's leaders about the terminal effect violence has on the sport, and about the talent-diluting aspect of overexpansion.
North American hockey now is not only devoid of big league network television exposure, but it is also falling embarrassingly far behind European hockey in terms of skills—and embarrassingly far ahead in pointless violence. Let us hope that the game on all levels, from the Pee Wees to the NHL, will heed Ken Dryden's words and end the tragic cycle of hockey in the '70s.
KEVIN GERARD WOOLFORK
The problems of hockey go much deeper than the occasional violence of the NHL. At the age of 18 I quit the sport after being benched by coaches who emphasized checking and high sticking over skating and passing. Hockey can be as graceful as ballet. However, on the minor league level the game more often resembles a scene from Slapshot. During the 1970s, hockey has been criticized by players, booed by spectators and taken to court by lawyers. But the game will remain unchanged until individuals like Ken Dryden are part of the Establishment instead of just outspoken critics.
Ken Dryden's remarkable and all-encompassing insight into the woes of the National Hockey League is exceeded only by his eloquence. He should be considered for the presidency of the NHL in the not-too-distant future.
When you play the fastest sport around in an enclosed arena you are bound to get into fights. I guess Ken Dryden was too busy to notice this, studying for his bar exam and all. The fans love to see fights. This fact was acknowledged in your magazine once before by the best coach in hockey, Don Cherry, who said, "The people who pay the dough love fighting. It's part of the game and sells tickets" (The Wrath of Grapes, Jan. 15).
I also do not agree that the NHL needs big TV contracts. Look back at the U.S.-Soviet series and see how the games were chopped up on TV. You couldn't even follow the play. I am positive that hockey fans across the country are happy with their cable telecasts, which have only a fraction of the commercials of network telecasts and which also have announcers who know what they are talking about. Brent Musberger commenting on hockey?
For the last five years I have stood in line hours on end for Ranger tickets, only to be disappointed. The line in itself is a sight. As for Dryden saying that the talent won't get better with expansion, I give you the New York Islanders. Of course, they didn't set the world on fire in their very first year, but what do you expect?
Take my advice and pick on a dead sport like basketball.
EYES ON THE CUP
Over the years, the Boston Bruins seem to have surprised almost everyone, except us Bruin fans and themselves. E. M. Swift should have included the Bruins in the final four and probably should have picked them as champions in his scouting reports (Oct. 8).
South Boston, Mass.