SBD/23/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BETTMAN SETS DEADLINE FOR NHL TALKS: NO PACT, NO PLAY

         NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman declared that the season will
    be postponed if a new collective bargaining agreement with the
    NHLPA is not in place when the regular season is scheduled to
    start on October 1.  Although he refused to label the move a
    lockout, Bettman insisted that NHL owners will not allow any
    games to be played without an agreement.  Bettman: "The absence
    of a collective bargaining agreement leaves us no choice."
    Bettman confirmed he and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow will meet in
    Toronto on Monday and said that a settlement then "won't be
    impossible" (Mult., 9/23).
         FACE-OFF: Bettman admitted that the announcement of a
    possible postponement was due to the lack of progress in
    negotiations with Goodenow:  "At some point, if this goes too
    long, we will have to look at shortening the season or do other
    things. ... If we work very hard, there is enough time to make a
    deal.  It will be difficult, it will be arduous but it will not
    be impossible.  But as time slips away, it gets harder and
    harder."  Bettman added: "What I've learned from baseball is that
    you can turn a season into a complete disaster if you open one
    without a collective agreement" (THE DAILY).  Sources said that
    Bettman was prepared to "pull the plug" on training camps last
    Monday, but decided to give negotiations more time (Alan Adams,
    VANCOUVER SUN, 9/23).  Bettman contended that a full season could
    still be played even if a postponement occurs (David Shoalts,
    Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/23).
         RESPONSE:  Goodenow "made it clear" the players consider
    Bettman's declaration a lockout and said that the action is
    "strictly a pressure play" to scare the players into making
    concessions:  "The lockout or postponement will not move the
    players or affect the players."  Goodenow reiterated that the
    players have no intention of striking: "I have reminded the
    league that we played all last season without a contract and we
    had playoffs" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/22).  Stephen Brunt writes, "For
    Bob Goodenow and company, this is going to a tough one to win"
    (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/23).
         CAN SETTLEMENT BE FOUND?  Bettman on the NHLPA offer: "I
    actually think the fact they came to the table and proposed a tax
    was constructive.  If I had to characterize the differences, they
    have called our tax a luxury tax; they have called their own tax
    a nuisance tax.  The issue is going to be whether or not we can
    bridge that gap and get to a tax that is neither a luxury nor a
    nuisance that we can both live with" (Al Strachan, TORONTO SUN,
    9/22).  Bettman added: "The system we have now needs to be
    modified, sometimes drastically" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/22).
         LONG WORK STOPPAGE SEEN:  ESPN's Al Morganti: "If it lasts
    much past a week or two, I'd say you're looking at a long one"
    ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22).  Wayne Gretzky: "I don't believe
    we're going to be playing hockey; I believe there's going to a
    three- or four-month work stoppage"  (CP/OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/23).
    Whalers Player Rep Pat Verbeek: "They're trying to break the
    players.  They're going to go as long as they can" (HARTFORD
    COURANT, 9/23).  Flyers Player Rep Mark Recchi: "It might take a
    couple of weeks, but it's not going to get done in nine days"
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/23).  The  Sharks' Gaetan Duchense: "I
    can't see something resolved in eight or nine days ... they're
    not even close" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/23).
         EXIT VISAS IMMINENT?  There is speculation that several NHL
    players will choose to play in the IHL or for European clubs
    (Everson & Botte, N.Y. POST, 9/23).
         CENTER OF THE STORM:  In Toronto, Al Strachacan: "Let's face
    it, Bettman wants a battle" (TORONTO SUN, 9/22).  In Boston, Bob
    Ryan writes Bettman's "militancy may actually be frightening a
    few of his owners, that Bettman is actually a bit ahead of that
    curve" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/22).  In Vancouver, Jim Taylor writes if
    Bettman does not recognize the "inherent dangers of Hockey Night
    in July," he is "blind, deaf and terminally oblivious" (VANCOUVER
    PROVINCE, 9/23).  In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon writes that a lockout
    will occur because the "owners have been too stupid to meet
    budgets and too selfish to share revenues with each other" (ST.
    LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/23).  In New York, Steve Jacobson writes,
    "What a way for hockey to break out of the igloo of the Frozen
    North and join the main games!" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 9/23).  Brett Hull
    labeled Bettman a "union buster": "This has been his plan since
    Day One. ... He doesn't care about the game at all."  Blues'
    Brendan Shanahan on Bettman's announcement of a "postponement,"
    rather than a lockout: "He's the kind of guy who'd say, 'It's not
    a wheel, it's's a round thing that spins around'" (ST. LOUIS
    POST-DISPATCH, 9/23).
    

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  • CONGRESS TO OWNERS: CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED

         Yesterday's hearing on baseball's antitrust exemption before
    the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Economic and
    Commercial Law "represented the unofficial start of what's widely
    expected to be an off-season of bickering."  While House
    Judiciary Chair Jack Brooks (D-TX) doubted that any action could
    be taken this year, baseball "may not be off the hook, especially
    if the labor dispute lingers" (Rick Alm, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
    9/23).  Brooks prefaced the hearing by releasing a statement
    indicating his support for repealing the exemption.  He had
    previously reserved judgment on this issue (THE DAILY).
         OWNER-BASHING:  "If major league baseball owners have
    friends in Congress, they weren't in room 2141 of the Rayburn
    Building yesterday" (Thom Lovero, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/23).
    Brooks "wanted the owners in attendance to know he means
    business" (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 9/23).  "The players'
    fervor paled in comparison to what they found to already exist on
    Capitol Hill:  a blanket indictment of the exemption by many
    legislators angered by baseball's incessant labor wars" (Claire
    Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).  "The owners couldn't give a single
    reason why they deserve this break" (George Vecsey, N.Y. TIMES,
    9/23).  NBC's Bob Costas:  "The mood of lawmakers has changed to
    one of general disgust with the state of the game and an apparent
    willingness to take away at least part of the curious anti-trust
    exemption" ("Nightly News," 9/22).
         FROM CONGRESS:  Rep. Mike Synar (D-OK): "The owners really
    did not make a strong case, I believe, in why they deserve this
    special status. ... I am convinced that if there is a chance to
    vote on the floors of the Senate or the House that this
    legislation would pass overwhelmingly on the simple basis of
    fairness" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22). More from Synar:
    "The Senate really holds the key.  If [Sen. Howard] Metzenbaum is
    able to push something through, we can get something done this
    year" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).  Metzenbaum, whose
    Senate bill was blocked by a procedural motion last week, will
    try to attach it to another bill as an amendment.  Metzenbaum:
    "If I get a chance, you can bet your sweet life I'll try it"
    (Helyar & Calmes, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/23).  Brooks said if a
    Senate bill were to pass, "I would be very open to allowing it to
    proceed directly to the President" (THE DAILY).
         FROM THE OWNERS:  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
    "downplayed the significance" of Brook's opposition:  "I really
    believe this will not be settled in the halls of Congress.  I
    truly believe the only way to settle this is at the bargaining
    table" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).  Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris:
    "I hate to see the old system tampered with while we're in the
    middle of labor negotiations" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22).
    Red Sox Owner John Harrington:  "The solution is at the
    bargaining table" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22).  Selig, on the
    choice between a strike and litigation:  "That's like asking
    whether you want to have a problem with your pancreas or a
    problem with your liver" (Colin Miner, N.Y. POST, 9/23).
         FROM THE PLAYERS:  The Dodgers' Orel Hershiser: "If this
    bill is passed, it will bring baseball back.  It is a promise, we
    will return to the field.  Right now, without this bill, we only
    have two options:  We can surrender or we can strike.  This bill
    will give us a third option.  It will allow us to play baseball,
    and let our attorneys fight it out in court" (mult., 9/23).
    Agent Tom Reich:  "We had salary caps once before from the owners
    in '85.  It was called collusion. ... [The owners] were found
    guilty of the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports three
    times. They don't deserve to have an exemption A -- and, B, it
    isn't fair" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, NBC, News Corp./Fox, Walt Disney
  • NBA PLAYERS TAKING THE LEAGUE BACK TO COURT (OF LAW)

         The legal "power struggle" between the NBA and the NBPA
    "moved into a federal appeals court" yesterday, where the union
    sought to reverse a lower court ruling that found that the salary
    cap, college draft and right of first refusal signing system "do
    not violate antitrust law."  The NBPA contends, after the
    collective bargaining agreement (C.B.A.) expired June 24, the
    three disputed policies "fell out of the jurisdiction" of federal
    labor law and became provisions "restricting the free-market
    opportunities of players from the day they are drafted to when
    they retire."  In July, the NBPA "failed to persuade" a U.S.
    District Court that the end of the C.B.A. "extinguished its
    collective bargaining relationship" with the NBA.  After the
    hearing, NBA Commissioner David Stern: "We expect to prevail in
    this case.  We've told the players we have to make a deal"
    (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).  The NBA will announce
    today or early next week that the cap for the upcoming season is
    $15.9M per team, not the anticipated $16.3M -- a 6% increase from
    '93-94 (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA
  • ONE LABOR HAPPY ENDING -- NFL AND ITS OFFICIALS

         A tentative agreement was reached yesterday between the NFL
    and its game officials, "averting a strike that was scheduled for
    next month."  According to sources familiar with the
    negotiations, the executive committee of the officials' new union
    voted 10-0 late Wednesday night to agree to a 7-year deal that
    will increase game fees 50-90% in the first year.  Minimum yearly
    income will be doubled, and in some cases, tripled; payments to
    the officials' pension will increase 300%; and for the first
    time, game officials will receive a one-time severance payment
    equivalent to their salaries in their final year of service
    (David Aldridge, WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
  • SANDERS' CONTRACT IS BECOMING A PRIME-TIME TARGET

         Two days before the Saints and 49ers meet, "guys are talking
    trash -- only this time it's not just the players."  In one of
    the "more unusual pregame exchanges," Saints owner Tom Benson and
    49ers President Carmen Policy "traded long-distance fire" over
    the signing of Deion Sanders.  Benson accused the 49ers of acting
    improperly in signing Sanders: "This is a farce.  The New Orleans
    Saints live by the book, and everyone else should live by the
    book, including the San Francisco 49ers.  What kind of Mickey
    Mouse organization are they running out there?"  Policy suggested
    that Benson might want to "brush up on his facts, especially
    since the league approved Sanders' contract this week": "Keeping
    in mind that we are under surveillance 24 hours a day, and the
    authorities in New York have us watched, are following us and
    probably [are] tapping our phones.  If you're going to commit a
    crime, these are not the most ideal circumstances under which to
    plot."  At issue was the revelation that Sanders' contract
    includes a $5M option that the club can exercise at its
    discretion.  To do so, the 49ers would have to pay Sanders $3M by
    February 28 -- "improbable, if not impossible, under the
    constraints" of the salary cap (Clark Judge, SAN JOSE MERCURY
    NEWS, 9/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers
  • STRIKE NOTES: PLAYERS FILE ON BEHALF OF RECALLED PLAYERS

         The MLBPA filed default notices claiming that 18 players
    were "improperly deprived" of $1M in pay when they were recalled
    in the weeks before the strike began.  If arbitrator George
    Nicolau "finds that any of their clubs did default by putting
    them on strike so they didn't have to pay them, he could declare
    them free agents.  In that case, the clubs could not correct the
    default.  Rather than face the risk of losing the players, clubs
    may pay them by Oct. 2, then file grievances of their own to try
    to recover the money."  MLB labor relations attorney John
    Westhoff:  "We will defend all the grievances on the basis that
    the clubs have the right to minimize their costs during a strike.
    ... [But] it will be up to each individual club to decide if they
    want to cure the default that was filed for each player" (Murray
    Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB
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