The National Hockey League provided evidence today that it is moving out of the 19th Century into the 21st. Instead of merely naming a mouthpiece successor to president Clarence Campbell, the board of governors discussed constitutional changes designed to free Campbell's still-unnamed successor from housekeeping duties and permit him to become involved in far-reaching topics that include the dream of expansion into Europe.
The changes require a 10-day waiting period, so the next move in the presidential sweeptakes will not occur until June 22, in Chicago. That meeting will undoubtedly be followed by a two-day confrontation with player representatives over prospective changes in the collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players' Association.
So, all in all, it wasn't a bad day for the group that Peter O'Malley, president of the Washington Capitals, calls "a partnership whose purpose is to beat the partners' brains out."
O'Malley earlier was persuaded to watch the demonstration of an automatic puck-shooting machine from behind a goal cage rather than in front of it, so he was available for evaluation of the future president's role.
"The reason to be here is to beat ernors could do was write a job description, enumerate the duties of a president and his salary, and then find the right man," O'Malley said.
"The most significant thing the gov-each other, and that must remain paramount at all times, but you have to discipline yourself to collectively work for the best interests of the sport.
"I see an elevated role of the president, with more responsibility and authority. Let him be a thinker, a creator, an innovator. The president should be sufficiently staffed so he can think of expansion into Sweden rather than be concerned with the day-to-day assignment of referees and administration of discipline."
"I feel that for Clarence to spend at least half his time on discipline is counterproductive," said William Jennings, president of the New York Rangers. "Brian O'Neil should have an increased role in that area in the future."
Although the fact-finding committee appointed to investigate the possibility of merger with the World Hockey Association reported to the board, nobody spoke on behalf of the WHA, nobody has been invited to do so and there has been no call for a vote on the subject.
The Cleveland situation remained bleak, although Campbell said that an effort was being made to save the Barons. St. Louis is still a question mark, and Campbell complained that a story referring to the Blues as "a bankrupt organization," has destroyed a prospective sale of the franchise.