Defensive strategies

The best defence is a good offence, I was told by an ice hockey coach when I was learning the elementary ice hockey skills. As I had been cast as a goaltender, it seemed to me that with the best defence, a good offence wouldn’t be necessary. Unlike fussball, and other team sports, the game that ended in a zero-zero tie was generally the most exciting to watch; even when it was decided by a single goal in the fifth overtime period. By then, one would have had one’s fill of hockey, no matter how well the game had been played.

But it appears one can’t get one’s fill, any more, for I just checked, and the NHL playoffs are still running, in June. It goes without saying that the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in them; I gave up on them, shortly after the late Johnny Bower retired. This was just after his forty-fifth birthday, which made him the oldest player in the NHL whom I had ever loved. His last game was in 1969 — coincidentally the same year the Americans landed men on the moon. (I suspect they released some cosmic demon, thereby, who flew back to earth with them, and has caused no end of trouble since. So many things went to Hell, after 1969.)

As the Swiss have taught, the best sort of military defence is impenetrable. Imperial powers take a pass on invading, once they see how the Swiss have their mountains rigged. This arrangement has preserved their neutrality for the last five hundred years; and even though Switzerland is between Germany and Italy, France and Austria — which take turns having the best offence. I am a reactionary myself, or a “fascist” according to some of my correspondents, because I favour a domestic policy of rule-of-law and maximal freedom. But my foreign ideal is to be left alone. And so, even very small countries ought to invest in goalie-pads.