Major league ice hockey has never pretended to imitate major league baseball—although their seasons virtually overlap at both ends. But last week, as the National Hockey League opened its 38th season, U.S. and Canadian fans sensed that hockey, too, has its New York Yankees. Their names: the Detroit Red Wings, who have won the NHL title six years running. In three of those years the Wings have also won the Stanley Cup postseason play-offs between the four top teams after all six clubs have finished their tedious 70-game grind. This season the Wings are favored to make it seven crowns in a row. Montreal and Toronto are regarded as the only serious contenders. Both hope to throw a jolt into the champs.
As a fiery sidelight to the team race this season, fans hope to see a renewal of the famous scoring duel between two of hockey's greatest right wingers: Detroit's Gordie Howe (242 goals in eight seasons) and Montreal's Maurice (Rocket) Richard (384 goals in 12 years). Before the opener Howe said he considered team play more important than his goals. The Rocket kept mum. That night's results: Detroit edged Toronto 2-1 as Howe missed six scoring chances; Montreal beat Chicago 4-2 with Richard scoring twice.
WHITE-JERSEYED ROCKET RICHARD FIRES ONE OF HIS TWO GOALS TO LEAD MONTREAL TO 4-2 WIN OVER CHICAGO
ALTHOUGH DETROIT WON OPENER OVER TORONTO, 2-1, RED WINGS ACE GORDIE HOWE (AT RIGHT) FAILED TO SCORE