Ken Dryden saw the future of the pro game years before the issue of concussion was discussed or even thought of (Head Shots Should Be History - Focus, March 12). He recognized nearly 15 years ago that the game was getting faster, the players bigger and the stakes higher. He proposed the league either adopt an Olympic size ice surface, or take one skater off the ice and allow the game to be played perpetually four on four.
Mr. Dryden rightly pointed to the key elements of hockey that make it a compelling game: skating, puck handling, passing and shooting. Yet for too long, the game has become a contest of brute strength over skill. This imbalance can only be addressed by changing the game.
Lawrence Crosthwaite, Edmonton
It looks like Mr. Dryden won't be satisfied until the government steps in to end hockey violence. Listen, it doesn't take a raft of university studies to understand that getting hit in the head probably isn't conducive to good health, but these are extremely wealthy athletes choosing to play a sport and assuming the risks that come with it. Voluntarily. If the National Hockey League doesn't "stop being stupid" then what? Either start your own no-hit hockey league or turn the channel, but enough with the sanctimonious posturing and faux outrage.
Bruce Korol, Calgary
I confess to enjoying bone-jarring uppercuts, body-checks and crashes in the sports I watch. I prefer that the participants walk or skate away from these collisions, but it is their voluntary risk that makes me not begrudge the fact that they make many times the salary of Canada's best surgeons, scientists and engineers.
Still, if the bandwagon Mr. Dryden has jumped on succeeds in "wussifying" hockey, and rendering it extinct, the Gretzkys and Crosbys of the future may enter more worthwhile professions and make more of a difference. As for dummies like me that still exist, perhaps the Jackass movie franchise will have survived.
Rudy Buller, Toronto
Re Bettman Holds New Contract And All The Cards (Sports, March 11), the NHL's commissioner responds to Air Canada concerns about injuries to hockey players with a threat: "… it is the prerogative of our clubs that fly on Air Canada to make other arrangements." Clearly, the pugnacious attitude the NHL has toward safety can be summed up with one word - "Bettman."
James Riordan, Breckenridge, Que.
Re A 10-Step Hockey Reformation As Imagined By John Allemang (Focus, March 12): Has anybody ever picked up a hockey helmet? It is so malleable that the equipment is basically an accessory, not a piece of protection. Compare it to a football helmet. Notice any difference? The article misses the brazenly obvious - that the head protection these guys wear is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Vince O'Dwyer, Vancouver
If we ban fighting from hockey, as John Allemang suggests, then it will just become a snooze-fest like curling. So let's add fighting to curling!
Think of the excitement. Just like in hockey, each team could have a designated hitter or goon, giving "the hammer" and "takeout" new meaning. When a team is losing, the DH could start a fight with the other team's skip. With no helmets to discard, they could just drop their brooms and flail away. Wearing curling shoes instead of skates would provide better stability for effective punching and like hockey, there is always the ice for serious damage. The fans would go crazy! When determining the length of suspensions, officials could also argue endlessly about how far a team was behind, whether it was early or late in the game, whether the coach instigated it and which way the wind was blowing.
Of course, there would be no fighting in extra ends when the game is on the line or in an Olympic tournament.
Tim Jeffery, Toronto
Another bush league
I'm very disappointed in your editorial about the imposition of a no-fly zone (The Preventable Bloodbath - March 12). It mentions everyone who should participate except the one group most responsible for preventing a bloodbath: the Arab League. According to its mandate, the league's main goal is to "draw closer the relations between member states and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries." If it had spent more of the past six decades working on progressive political and economic reforms for those states instead of obsessing about Israel, the Arab world wouldn't be in this situation today.
David Honigsberg, Toronto
When will the message finally be driven home that nuclear power is a poor choice for electricity needs? (Japanese Authorities Race To Contain Threat Of Multiple Nuclear Meltdowns - online, March 13). I have graduate-level training in nuclear power engineering, and am appalled at how Ontario's government has continued to engage in planning new nuclear generation. The downside is too big - we are saddling ourselves with long-term costs and waste fuel that we don't know how to manage, not to mention inviting the horrible meltdown scenario that is unfolding in Japan.
Canadian nuclear proponents will give us all sorts of assurances that our plants can never have the type of accident that has unfolded in Japan. I would argue that well-informed, determined people could easily create a nightmare scenario right here.
Steve Lapp, professor of energy systems engineering, St. Lawrence College, Kingston
State of the unions
By making "the history of organized labour in America and the collective bargaining process" a requirement in the social-studies curricula, Wisconsin schools are complicit in indoctrinating students (Will Wisconsin's Chill On Labour Move North? - Focus, March 12).
It would be fine if schools also taught about the downside of union intimidation and the defence of bad practices. However, I strongly suspect they don't.
John Clench, Vancouver
Konrad Yakabuski observes that "The real divide on unionization historically … is the Mason-Dixon Line." But while his article mentions traditional laissez-fairism, individualism and populism among the reasons for anti-union sentiment south of it, there's not a word about indentured servitude or slavery.
Mike Rapsey, Ottawa
Our man in Ajax
We learn that from Margaret Wente's profile that Chris Alexander is "unshakably decent," "smart and likable," and "a potential star" ('The Tories I Admire Have Been People Who Were Committed To Nation-Building' - Focus, March 12). What we don't learn is what responsibility the former ambassador bears for the failures of Canada's Afghan policy, or how he squares his "Pearsonian world view" with his support for a government whose foreign policy lacks even a trace of Pearsonian influence.
It would also be interesting to know why this Toronto blue-blood believes Ajax-Pickering voters should support his parachute candidacy. Let's hope they appreciate their "dream candidate" and don't inconvenience him by asking any of these questions.
Joe Killoran, Toronto
Chris Alexander has an impressive pedigree and impeccable résumé. Son of a prominent lawyer, he was educated at Upper Canada College, McGill and Oxford and has sound experience as a foreign diplomat.
Imagine, yet another intellectual elite who has spent years living and working outside our country running for public office? Canadians must be shocked and appalled.
Anne Rowe, Oakville, Ont.
Have a nice Day
Re Departure Left PM 'Surprised And Disappointed,' Stockwell Day Says (online, March 13):
The Harper government loses a senior cabinet minister; Wal-Mart gains a greeter.
Don Macpherson, Saskatoon
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