With a roundhouse right to the ankle, the National Hockey League has struck its first blow against Bobby Hull in retaliation for Hull's $2.75 million defection to the World Hockey Association. Hull was the only WHA recruit named last week to the squad of Team Canada, which will play an eight-game series against the U.S.S.R. in September—one of the most interesting hockey confrontations of all time. But, as part of their agreement to provide players for Team Canada, the NHL owners—13 of the 16, incidentally, are Americans—stipulated that no one could play unless he had signed his NHL contract by Aug. 13, starting day of Team Canada's training camp. Hull, of course, already had signed with Winnipeg of the WHA. Five other Team Canada players—Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers of Boston, Brad Park and Rod Gilbert of New York and J.C. Tremblay of Montreal—have not yet signed NHL contracts and are presumed to be negotiating with WHA teams.
The NHL's actions enraged not only Hull but millions of Canadians who have suffered for more than a decade as the Russians repeatedly routed their teams in amateur and Olympic hockey competition. A Toronto paper bannered: NHL SAYS BOBBY CAN'T PLAY FOR OUR TEAM. Citizens from Nova Scotia to British Columbia fired telegrams to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asking him to intervene in Hull's behalf. Trudeau agreed with the fans but refused to countermand the law on grounds that to do so might jeopardize the contest itself.
"It's obviously the NHL against the Russians," Hull said. "Not Canada. Now they'll have to change the name of the team to Hockey NHL. If the NHL can call it Team Canada and still look at themselves in the mirror, then let them go to it. It's about time everyone realized what type of organization they [the NHL] are."
As the brouhaha between Hull and the NHL escalated to the point where it was a main topic of informal conversation in the House of Commons, there was at least one sensible NHL owner who sided with Hull. "I don't give a damn if Hull plays in China," said Harold Ballard of the Toronto Maple Leafs, "he's still a Canadian citizen."
AND IN THIS CORNER...
Women's Lib could scarcely ask for more than what has happened to Barbara B. Dunn. Mrs. Dunn, mother of three, has been appointed boxing commissioner de facto of Connecticut, where there is no boxing. And Mrs. Dunn never has seen a professional fight.
The sport was outlawed by the state's General Assembly in 1965, but has been reinstated. The likelihood, though, is that there will be no boxing in Connecticut until October 1973. Mrs. Dunn, who has been consulting with such oldtime fighters as Willie Pep, the world featherweight champ of other days, and Chico Vejar, welterweight star of TV's boxing heyday, estimates that it will take a year for her to draft a set of boxing regulations for the state.
THE BIGGER THEY ARE
Steve Michalik's unexpanded chest measures a staggering 52 inches. His thighs are 28 inches, his waist only 27. His upper arms are 20 inches around, his forearms 16. He is Mr. America 1972.
Michalik was wearing a business suit when he boarded a plane at Tampa International Airport the other day, heading home to New York, where his wife would be waiting for him.
When, after 30 minutes, he did not get off the plane at New York, Mrs. Michalik telephoned Tampa to find out if her husband had made the plane. Just as she was told he had indeed made it, out he came, followed by two sky marshals.
Mr. America's chest had been too much for the marshals. They had been unable to believe that it was all Michalik, not Michalik and a couple of bombs. They made him disrobe in the plane. Then they gaped for a while.
Michalik went off with his wife to a protein supplement lunch.
QUICK, WATSON, THE HORSEFLY
Biologists of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have come up with what may be a way to save bighorn sheep from the dread bluetongue disease. The idea is to use stable flies—commonly known as horseflies—as living hypodermic needles.
Bluetongue has been held responsible for the population decline and ultimate extinction of the bighorn in Texas. Now it is planned to use the flies as natural vectors for the vaccination of a herd of bighorns liberated last year in the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area near Marathon. The flies will first feed on domestic sheep that have been subjected to the bluetongue virus. When the horsefly, now a serum carrier, is turned loose on a herd of bighorns, its bite, it is hoped, will transmit the protective serum to the wild sheep.
THE GAME'S THE THING
This is not to suggest for a moment that one should ignore a heart attack while playing golf or any other game. But it" does have something to say about the competitive spirit.
Victor Ruiz, a 59-year-old Tampa musician and low-handicap amateur, was going quite well after a few holes at the Rocky Point course. Suddenly, pain gripped his chest and he doubled over. His partners suggested that he go back to the clubhouse.
"I was playing too good to quit," says Ruiz, "so I hit myself in the gut and the pain went away. I kept on."
The pain came back, but between pars Ruiz slapped at himself some more. He shot 37 on the first nine and was not about to quit. A friend gave him a Coke and some Rolaids.
"I began to feel better," Ruiz recalls, "but soon the pain returned again. This time it was in my arm."
He putted for birdies on the last three holes, making one on the 18th green for 74. Then he all but fell down in a faint. He was rushed home and from there to a hospital, where he was given emergency treatment for the heart attack that had been striking him. He was hospitalized for almost three weeks and is now convalescing.
The incident taught him a lesson, Ruiz says.
"That pain in my arm," he explains, "was one reason I was hitting my long irons so straight. It made me shorten my swing."
Bob Kap, the garrulous football scout who occasionally lassoes a European soccer player and turns him over to the NFL as a placekicker (SCORECARD, Oct. 4, March 13), still holds to his controversial opinion that European soccer is on the decline and that its stars are he-ginning to look to American football. This means, he insists, that the invasion of the NFL by soccerstyle kickers is just beginning. "The kickers who have been winning raves in the NFL—like Stenerud, Yepremian and the Gogolaks—are nothing more than fourth-division players by European standards," he says. "The kicker at Cincinnati, Horst Muhlmann, is a little better, but in the near future you're going to see real topflight men. We have a couple already in Toni Fritsch of Dallas and Tony Linhart of New Orleans. The others are like a high school quarterback going to Europe and becoming a star in the newly introduced game of American football. Can you imagine what a star a pro quarterback would be if he was up against a high school quarterback?"
Of criticism that soccerstyle kickers cannot get the ball in the air fast enough, thus making their attempts easier to block, Kap says, "This might be true of fourth-class players but not the real major-leaguers." He points out that Fritsch last year kicked field goals of 51 and 56 yards in an exhibition game, and during the season made a 46-yarder. "And he was new to the country and the game. Linhart is just as good. He should make 99% of his attempts inside 45 yards."
Because the Philadelphia Phillies do their spring training in Clearwater. Fla., it has been the custom of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce to sponsor an annual trip to Philadelphia to root for the home team.
This year, though, the Phillies are in last place in the National League's Eastern Division, trailing Pittsburgh by a score or more of games. And despite the chamber's willingness to foot expenses, only two city commissioners expressed interest in the trip, scheduled vaguely for some time in August.
Mayor H. Everett Hougen stepped in, urging city officials to sign up for the pilgrimage. "God knows the Phillies need all the help they can get," he observed.
But the mayor isn't going, either.
"I doubt the effectiveness of it," he said.
THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT
A New York City man who has a summer place in Connecticut took his city-bred tomcat with him when he went off recently for his vacation. He soon noticed a large horned owl hanging around, but aside from having a persistent feeling that someone was watching him he did not think much about it. Then one night he heard a screech, a yowl, the sounds of a brawl, and he thought, "Good Lord, the cat has caught the owl." Apprehensive about what his conservationist friends would have to say if he turned up with a mangled owl carcass, he ran outside to stop the bout. And there in the dim light he saw the owl spread its great wings and fly off, its talons clutching the now moribund cat.
Rice University recently conferred a Ph.D. in mathematics on Bob Etter, who previously had won the campus badminton tournament, played quarterback, receiver and defensive back on the championship touch-football team, played basketball, baseball, softball, tennis and championship bridge. Besides that, he taught calculus.
With this kind of background Etter is doing what any other sound-thinking Ph.D. would do. He has signed once more to kick field goals for the Atlanta Falcons.
THE PRECOCIOUS MUSTACHE
As the father of a 12-year-old long-haired boy playing on a Lunada Bay Little League Tournament team, H. E. McDonald of Palos Verdes Peninsula, has been studying the "appearance and grooming code" of the California State and Western Regional Tournament.
It states, sensibly, that "hair, regardless of length, must be well groomed" and thinned out sufficiently so that a safety helmet will fit snugly on the head. But then it adds:
"No part of the mustache will extend over the mouth."'
"Nothing, in my opinion." says McDonald, "is more disgusting than a 12-year-old boy with a mustache hanging down over his mouth...."
MOUNTIES GET THEIR CAMERA
While on a fishing trip in the Northwest Territories last year, Per Sandsmark of New York City mislaid a $300 camera. Instead of reporting the loss, he just wrote it off.
Recently Sandsmark got a letter from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They asked if he had lost a camera.
The Mounties had found the camera. developed the film and on one of the pictures spotted the registration of the seaplane Sandsmark had rented. The Mounties asked the bush pilot for the name of his passenger. End of manhunt.
THEY SAID IT
•Muhammad Ali, on Floyd Patterson, whom he fights Aug. 28, with tongue in check: "He's such a nice guy I even let him call me Mr. Clay."
•Walter Hildebrand, 79, of Kansas City, Mo., who bought his first motorcycle in 1909: "It's not like it used to be. You can't outrun the police with their helicopters and radar and all."
•John Mooney, Salt Lake City Tribune sports editor, on the questionable delights of a summer vacation in Wyoming: "If summer falls on a Sunday they have a picnic."