Some time ago I wrote deploring the lack of hockey coverage in SI. I feel it only fair and fitting now to compliment you on your special hockey preview (Oct. 11) and a fine article on the New York Islanders by E.M. Swift, who knows more than a little about the game. As a Canadian, a 50-year supporter of the sport and a Montreal Canadiens fan, I am most grateful.
J. DOUGLAS MCGILLIS
Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting out such a great hockey preview: an outstanding job on the NHL by E.M. Swift, whom I have always enjoyed reading, and fine work by Cathrine Wolf on the college preview.
West Lafayette, Ind.
CONTROLLING THE VIOLENCE
Congratulations to E.M. Swift (Earning Their Stripes, Oct. 11) for proposing several changes in the NHL's current officiating scheme. The idea of adding a second referee to officiating crews is a good one. However, I believe it needs to be taken one step further. In order to avoid any "lobbying" by players or coaches during a game, it would be necessary to designate one of the referees the head official for the game. His decision would be final in the assessment of any penalties. Such a system is in use quite effectively in major league baseball.
Buffalo Forward Craig Ramsay showed that there is hope for an age of enlightened thinking when he proposed that officials "call everything." Close adherence to all of the rules is no obstacle to playing good, productive hockey. In Ramsay's case, he entered the current season with only 184 penalty minutes in a career of 922 games.
CHRIS C. FIELD
E.M. Swift's call for the two-referee, one-linesman system of officiating as "the obvious solution" to the ills of the NHL seems offside. Swift neatly delineated responsibilities for two referees based on the location and movement of the puck, but he fails to consider the positioning of the referees required for them to effectively and consistently assess penalties. Furthermore, no mention is made of how two referees and one linesman would handle icing, offsides and the two-line offside pass. Clearly, the assessment of offside violations is more important than are judgment calls insofar as the outcome of the game is concerned. And as long as the NHL continues to restrict the natural flow of the game with the two-line offside-pass rule, two linesmen are necessary.
This season ECAC Division I hockey moved from the two-referee, one-linesman system to a one-referee, two-linesmen system for two reasons: 1) better blue-line and center-red-line coverage in the neutral zone by two linesmen (offsides and icing), and 2) consistency in the assessment of penalties. We believe that near-perfect line coverage comes first. And yes, two eyes at a proper angle to the play will be better than four when, often, two of the four eyes could not be in a position to assess infractions properly anyway.
Ice hockey officiating at all levels has its problems and challenges, but isn't it true that officials are charged with controlling what coaches and management teach the players to do in the first place?
BRIAN S. PETROVEK
Eastern College Athletic Conference
?The Western and Central collegiate hockey associations, the ECAC's rival conferences, are still using the two-referee, one-linesman system and believe that it's the best system for the college game—ED.
The right to call any violation should be given to all three officials on the ice. Ten rapidly moving bodies are too much for one official, or even two, to follow. Once tight calls become commonplace, the players will have no trouble adjusting. Witness the Olympics.
The Woodlands, Texas
Granted, hockey officials have a hard time making calls, but is this bad? On the contrary, I think it shows that hockey is an extremely exciting game with few breaks in the action. If every rule had to be followed exactly, the game wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as it is right now.
CHARLES B. HARTWELL