Once again you've accurately described the state of disrepair that professional hockey has fallen into (It Was a Sight for Gore Eyes, April 19). As a hockey purist and a television viewer of that Saturday night debacle between Minnesota and Chicago, I could only shake my head at the disgusting performance. I always look forward to the NHL playoffs for some fast-skating and hard-hitting but clean hockey, as in the Islanders-North Stars final series last year. But by allowing the kind of play I saw Saturday night, the league has proved that it can stoop lower than I ever imagined it could.
I applaud SI for its continuing effort to save the NHL from itself, but until league President John Ziegler is replaced, I'm afraid nothing will change.
I'm glad somebody noticed the insanity of the Chicago-Minnesota hockey series. Until you took the principals to task, it seemed that this debacle would pass without criticism. I guess we're all too accustomed to that type of hockey.
When are NHL executives—John Ziegler, in particular—going to stop being so two-faced? They promote hockey as the fastest sport on earth and then let slower-skating teams, loaded with no-talents, bring superior-skating teams down to their level by clutching, grabbing and hooking. Yes, I'm a North Star fan and undoubtedly biased, but in my view Chicago would have played virtually every minute of the series with Minnesota short-handed if the referees had been allowed to call the game by the real rules, not Ziegler's. And hockey would have been much the better for it if they had.
SI once again showed its love of hockey by attempting to pick it to pieces. The bottom line of any sport is winning. Why should a bigger and stronger Black Hawk team attempt to skate with a faster Minnesota team? The Black Hawks played physical hockey and won. It's the North Stars' fault for not being able to adjust to Chicago's style and beat the Black Hawks.
A perfect example comes to mind: Two years ago, while they were on their way to their first Cup, the Islanders faced the Big Bad Bruins in the quarterfinals. The Islanders were a skating team that had been known to choke when ferociously forechecked. Right from the start, the Bruins threw bodies and started brawls, but in the end the only thing they had to show for it was their own early elimination and their own battered bodies. Great teams make the necessary adjustments.
E.M. Swift—and SI—should first learn about hockey. Once this is done, then, maybe, you can criticize it.
I read with interest Ron Fimrite's article It's Time to Overhaul the Grand Old Game (April 12). The most dire problem in baseball, however, is not, as Fimrite suggests, the imbalance of economic power, but the very existence of that power as an influence on the game. Baseball is complex, subtle and easy-paced. And therein lies its strength, not in the Players Association, not in greedy owners, and certainly not in an inevitable strike that prevented any semblance of a meaningful season in 1981.
Economic power, balanced or not, has no place in the game. Baseball fans were told time and again last year that baseball is a business. It is not! It is a sport. When owners expect to become wealthy at the expense of the ticket-buying baseball fan, then they cast a dark shadow on the future of the game. Likewise, if players expect enormous salaries for doing what kids have dreamed about doing for decades, then baseball as an American tradition will be a victim. Let's play ball, not economics.
WILLIAM R. WIBLE
After saying "It's time to overhaul the Grand Old Game," Ron Fimrite never does say what the repairmen have in mind.