Here’s Toronto broadcaster and writer Brian McFarlane (writer of the very fine http://www.ithappenedinhockey.com/) has his predictions for hockey in the year 2000 in his old 1970’s book, Hockey Annual.
“Let’s begin with the player. He’ll wear a lightweight, super plastic climate-control helmet equipped with two-way radio which receives messages from the coach. His uniform will be thermo-controlled and made from a material that gives absolute protection even though it weighs a mere five pounds. It is equipped with contact plates to register pulse, blood pressure, and, most important, fatigue rating. The skates will have impervium boots propelled by forward and retro rockets that increase the player’s natural speed about 50 per cent. In other words, they’ll move at about 50 miles an hour.
“Hockey sticks of the future will be rather unusual. The blade has a trapper pocket for puck control and a trigger on the handle propels the puck at around 200 miles per hour. This eliminates the need for goaltenders so the players shoot at a small target or goal area, and opposing players try to deflect the puck’s flight by means of an electro-magnetic repulsion force generated from their stick.
“The coach, by the way, never associates with his players because personality factors might interfere with his judgment from the coach’s bubble. The coach in this league probably never laced on a pair of rocket skates in his life.
“The referee will ride around in a hover gondola over the ice surface. Because of the terrific speed of play, offsides are recorded electronically and the play-by-play announcer is in direct radio contact with rival coaches, the benches, and the players at all times.
“The arenas will be fantastic! They’ll be geodesic dome-shaped affairs seating 100,000 fans. There’ll be no ice to play on. The players will skate on a Mylar surface, silicone treated, scratch-proof and shrink-resistant, if you like.
“There’ll be no boards. Instead, an invisible field of force will keep the puck in play. And if a player slams into this same field of force, he’ll be cuddled like a baby.
“Any fan who throws an object on the playing surface will be in for a shock because the rink is electronically geared to reject that object and deposit it right back in the thrower’s lap. So no more tomatoes. And what about the hockey fan in his moon home? He’ll see all the action on a super video screen covering one full wall in his living room, colour of course, in 3D too. Smellevision is optional at the press of a button.
“The three stars will appear in the flesh, right in your living room. They’ll be transported there by radiotonic waves after each game. That will be done by breaking down the molecular structure of the body and shooting the cells out on radiotonic waves into your living room. They’ll be duplicated and multiplied as they go along so everybody will get a two-minute chat with the three stars after every hockey game, right in the living room.
“It might take a while to perfect molecular form of transportation and a few players might be lost along the way, but then that’s progress. And that’s hockey as it might look in the first few years of the 21st century.”