Most North Americans think that Bunny Ahearne, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation is a bit off the mark with most of his ideas, but his latest thoughts on improving the game might some day have a measure of validity.
Would Put Refs in a Gondola Above the Ice
Ahearn wants to remove from the ice two key components of today’s game. Bunny would eliminate the centre red line and would also get rid of referees. Well, at least the referee would no longer be skating on the ice with the players. He would observe the play from a gondola suspended high above the ice.
Ahearne explained his reasoning for removing the referee from the playing surface:
We could use thinking men who don’t have to know how to skate.
Ahearne didn’t say whether he feels today’s officials don’t have the brain power to do the job, but sure sounds like he doesn’t have much use for the men in striped shirts doing the games now.
Ahearne wants the referee to have a full view of the ice at all times, and this would be possible by watching the game from high above the ice surface. Ahearne says he would like to make these changes as soon as possible, but he had no idea when, if ever, they would be adopted.
Ahearne is in Calgary, scouting nearby Banff as a possible site for the 1972 Winter Olympics. He spoke on a number of hockey-related issues, including the greed and incompetence of professional hockey.
Ahearne said he is working with a Swiss scientist on a material that will make a hockey puck easier to see on television. The unnamed material would apparently cause the puck to stand out on a standard television screen.
Campbell: It’s Been Tried
Ahearne’s idea of having the referee suspended in a gondola above the ice is not new. NHL president Clarence Campbell says the IIHF president is about 35 years late with this brain wave.
Campbell says that the idea to move the referees was tried in the New Haven, Connecticut arena in the 1930s, but was not successful. The man behind the plan at that time was Tommy Filmore, who played over 500 games in the NHL with Detroit Falcons, New York Americans and Boston Bruins.
Campbell wasn’t sure why the Filmore plan was a flop. But he said that removing the referee from being close to the play would not be a good thing for the players, coaches or fans.
“I think removal of the referee from the ice makes the game an impersonal thing. Everybody who goes to a game pits his own judgement against that of the official. It must be frustrating to the players and the customers to have the object of their, ah, criticism removed from their presence to a supposedly safe place.”
King Clancy, assistant manager of the Maple Leafs and a former arbiter himself, gives no credence to the concept.
“Why, you could make all the mistakes you wanted if you were away up there in the air. That’s no good.
“Look, if you’re gonna be a referee, there’s one satisfaction you get. Whether you’re right or wrong, you at least know you’re closer to the play than just about anybody in the rink.”
Russians Won’t Turn Pro
Ahearne termed a report that the Russians want to turn their national hockey team professional as “hogwash.” He says that the Russians are building a club to win the 1968 Olympics and would not jeopardize that initiative simply for money.
They don’t want or need to turn professional. And anyway, the National Hockey League can’t even look after its own league with teams like Boston and New York in there. They don’t want the Russians.
Ahearne said that proposed games between the Russians and NHL teams can’t take place, at least under the present set of rules. IIHF rules prohibit amateur teams from playing games against professionals.
Wings’ Late Rally Sinks Bruins
The Detroit Red Wings rebounded from a 3-2 deficit at the end of the second period to down the Boston Bruins 5-3 last night at the Olympia in Detroit. The win moves the Wings to within two points of second-place Montreal Canadiens.
The teams traded first-period goals. Ron Murphy opened the scoring for Detroit with his first of two on the night. It was his third of the season. Former Red Wing Pit Martin then tied it up with his second of the year. Martin stepped out of the penalty box and picked off a pass by Wings Alex Delvecchio, skated in alone and beat Detroit goalie Hank Bassen. Bassen was subbing for flu-stricken Roger Crozier.
The second period saw Detroit take a 2-1 lead on a Floyd Smith goal, his 12th. Smith was the recipient of a very nice Norm Ullman setup.
The Bruins took a 3-2 with goals a little over a minute apart by Ron Stewart and Eddie Westfall. Stewart flipped what looked like an easy shot from the faceoff circle that Bassen fanned on. Westfall’s goal came on a nifty deflection of a Ted Green slap shot.
The Red Wings tied the game just before the five-minute mark of the final frame. Parker MacDonald beat Boston goalie Bernie Parent with a shot that caught the corner from the right boards.
Bruce MacGregor scored the winner about six minutes later when he was sent in by Gary Bergman. MacGregor then set up Murphy’s second of the night four minutes after that to round out the scoring.
Petes Score Four Straight to Upend Marlies
The Peterborough Petes scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Toronto Marlboros at home in one of two Ontario Hockey Association Junior A games last night. In the other contest, the rapidly improving London Nationals trounced the Hamilton Red Wings 7-3 in Hamilton.
At Peterborough, Mickey Redmond had two third-period markers to lead the Petes comeback. Guy Dufour and John Vanderberg with his second of the game had the other goals.
Toronto had built a 2-1 lead on goals by Wayne Carleton and Frank Hamill.
In Hamilton, Moe St. Jacques was the star for the Nationals with three goals. Neil Clark added a pair, while singles came off the sticks of Neil Clairmont and Cliff Turner.
Hamilton scorers were Nick Libett, Don Giesebrecht and Freddie Speck.
London won the game despite losing regular goalie Rocky Farr to injury in the pre-game warm-up. He was replaced by Ray Reeson, who played very well, especially in a second period where Hamilton looked to be making a game of it.
The Red Wings were without their leading scorer Gary Marsh, out for several weeks with a broken ankle.
The win enables London to escape the OHA basement and move into eighth place.
Smythe Won’t Take Leafs to Europe – Too Many Hijinks
Stafford Smythe, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, says that he wouldn’t take his team on an extended tour of Europe. The reason is simple – the temptation to step out of line would simply be too great for the players to resist.
“Too many hijinks on those trips. We wouldn’t be able to control the players. After all, they’re only human. You wouldn’t blame them for stepping out a bit at night.”
Smythe says that today’s players aren’t adverse to having the occasional alcoholic drink, especially during exhibition tours.
“That’s why we have exhibition trips during training camp – so they can learn what it’s like to play when they’re half-cut.”
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.