The Game Was Not Worse for Its Wear

These days, it's a rarity in the National Hockey League if a player doesn't wear a helmet. But try to imagine a defenseman wearing glasses and no helmet.

Al Arbour, coach of the New York Islanders, did just that.

"I wore glasses because I couldn't wear contacts, but I didn't even give it a second thought," Arbour told the New York Post. "It was no big deal. And helmets, that never even entered our minds.

"Now I'd worry about those things a lot more. The game has changed so much. It's faster, players shoot harder and there's more stickwork. People had respect for your face back then."

Add hockey protection: Billy Smith has seen the changes, having come into the league when fellow goalie Gump Worsley didn't even use a mask.

Now it would be close to impossible to survive without one.

"I can't even defend myself," Smith said of today's officiating. "I used to put my stick up and let a guy run into it and not even get caught. Now I'll get a penalty every time."

Apparently they've taken all the fun out of the game.

Trivia Time: Who is the only NHL player suspended for life for fighting? (Answer below)

Randy Hendricks, Roger Clemens' agent, after Orel Hershiser had signed for $7.9 million, beating Clemens' $7.5-million contract:

"I feel like one of those American pole vaulters. I just went 19 feet 11 inches, and Sergei Bubka went 19 feet 11 3/4 inches. But there'll be a new meet next year. Maybe Jeff Reardon will be the next pole vaulter. Or it'll be Kirby Puckett vaulting.

"Really, if we let this ruin one day, or one week, of our lives, then we're hopeless. Because at $7.5 million, Roger's set for life. How much more do you have to have?"

Hendricks credited himself for inflating Hershiser's value.

"It's like that pass Isiah Thomas made in the NBA All-Star game," he said. "Orel Hershiser and (agent) Robert Fraley took the ball and stuffed it."

A radio station in Rochester, N.Y., is collecting comments this week on a cardboard sign to blast Oakland Athletics slugger Jose Canseco, who failed to show up at a baseball card show Sunday.

A grandmother wrote that her grandson had come to see her for the weekend from Binghamton, N.Y., just to meet Canseco and cried and cried when he found out the slugger wasn't coming.

"We just want to let him know what Rochester thinks of him," said Bob Dodenhoff, co-owner of WKLX-FM. "He did a lot of damage and he needs to know that."

Apparently not as much damage as some locals would like to do to him.

The "Slam-O-Gram," a 6-foot-2 1/2 sign that will be sent to Canseco's Miami home, includes these comments:

--"Jose Canseco--major league player, minor league human being."

--"Canseco, MIP--most invisible player."

--"Can't wait to see you in Toronto. I have the baseball you were supposed to sign . . . DUCK!"

Trivia Answer: Billy Coutu of the Boston Bruins. He earned a lifetime suspension for assaulting referee Jerry Laflamme during the 1927 Stanley Cup final.

Quotebook

Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on Sean Elliott's breaking Abdul-Jabbar's Pacific 10 scoring record: "I don't believe I even know who he is. I don't know anything about him and I haven't followed his career at all. I really wasn't aware that any of this was going on."

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