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NHL TALKS FIZZLE IN TORONTO AS SEASON QUICKLY APPROACHES
Published September 27, 1994
Following five hours of negotiations between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow in Toronto, prospects of a resolution prior to the start of the season "appeared dim." Bettman and Goodenow will resume talks today, and will probably meet in New York on Thursday to continue the negotiations. While Bettman contended that there is no deadline for a deal to avoid a postponement of the season, he did concede that an announcement will have to be made "sometime Friday morning" so that teams will be able to coordinate travel plans (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/27). The Mighty Ducks have already cancelled weekend hotel reservations in Dallas (L.A. TIMES, 9/27). HOLDING THE LINE: Bettman was not optimistic that a deal could be struck before Saturday: "The deadline still exists. We will not open without an agreement" (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 9/27). Bettman added: "We're not at an end point yet by any stretch of the imagination. We are in better shape than if I said to you, 'Talks have broken off and I'm heading back to New York'" (TORONTO STAR, 9/27). BLEAK ON BOTH SIDES: Goodenow: "It is very clear we have a wide difference of opinion" (TORONTO SUN, 9/27). Goodenow added the union will not sacrifice its position to avoid a "lockout." Sources close to the negotiations indicated that the season "could be delayed for months." One negotiator said that during talks over the weekend "we seemed to be talking in a more serious vein, but something seems to have broken down between now and then" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/27). There were reports the players were willing to yield on a rookie salary cap in return for retaining arbitration rights and a mild tax on payroll and revenues (N.Y. POST, 9/27). NHLPA VP Kelly Miller: "The next two days will show how willing the owners are to make a deal" (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/27). The TORONTO STAR obtained a September 24 letter from Goodenow to the players in which he alleges that Bettman's negotiating tactics are designed to "threaten, intimidate and coerce." From the letter: "Simply put, the league is out to pressure you into accepting a series of takeaways and clawbacks that would otherwise be rejected out of hand" (TORONTO STAR, 9/27). POWER PLAY? The N.Y. POST reports that Bettman and NHL teams have "apparently broken their word" to players and are now imposing September rollbacks retroactive to August. Agent John MacLean: "If the owners and league management aren't going to bargain in good faith, then what's the point?" MacLean said Bettman is "damn lucky they're hockey players. Any other group would have walked by now" (N.Y. POST, 9/27). NHLPA VP Ken Baumgartner: "For us to sign an agreement with the onus on major rollbacks, which stands today, is not in the best interest of the players" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 9/26). Larry Brooks predicts the NHLPA "will split, sooner or later" (N.Y. POST, 9/27).