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The NBA Board of Governors "will likely decide Tuesday to lock the players out of the regular season if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by the first week of November." Hawks President Stan Kasten, who is also president of the MLB Braves: "I think what you might be seeing is the last strike ever -- or at least for a very long time. I don't think you're going to see any league ever again allow its players to go into a season and build up their finances and then bring the season down. I don't think leagues are going to allow players to get into the position where they can effectively cancel the post- season. I think what you'll see are lockouts" (Steve Bulpett, BOSTON HERALD, 9/28). The NBPA is waiting for a ruling in federal appeals court regarding the salary cap, college draft, and the right of first refusal involving free agents. The union seeks to reverse a lower court ruling stating the three did not violate antitrust law. NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "We would be happy to sit down and negotiate the issues now, but apparently the players want to wait for the court ruling" (Clifton Brown, N.Y. TIMES, 9/28). UNION REAX: NBPA VP Charles Smith: "We're prepared to continue to move on through the course of the lockout and do what we have to do" (Fred Kerber, N.Y. POST, 9/28). NBPA Exec Dir Charles Grantham said players would be prepared to play alternative games in case of a lockout (Mult., 9/28).
"Barring a miracle of epic proportion," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to instruct owners tomorrow that he will postpone the start of the season. Following nine hours of negotiations between Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow, Bettman returned to New York after offering "one more proposal" to Goodenow on the "pivotal issue" of revenue sharing. But Goodenow dismissed the offer as "merely another way for the NHL to inflict the dreaded salary cap" (Bob McKenzie, TORONTO STAR, 9/28). Goodenow: "We're not at a dead end per se, but we've got problems" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28). Bettman was equally pessimistic: "I wish I could say we made a lot of progress, but that hasn't been the case" (Frank Orr, TORONTO STAR, 9/28). But Bettman "hinted" that if a lockout occurs it will be a short one: "If we delay this by a week and then we get an agreement, I think the fans will be well served" (Al Strachan, TORONTO SUN, 9/28). BETTMAN ANNOUNCEMENT: Several team execs confirm that a conference call between Bettman and the Board of Governors has been scheduled for 6pm tonight. "Unless there's a dramatic development" before then, Bettman will "most certainly" tell the owners to begin the shutdown process. The formal announcement to postpone Saturday's opening night would come from Bettman on Friday (TORONTO STAR, 9/28). ROOKIE CAP: A source tells the N.Y. POST that the players "have already offered" to yield on a entry-level salary cap that would regulate the first three years of a player's base earnings and signing bonus. The "source": "It isn't as though we feel it (the rookie cap) is appropriate, but we feel it's a show of good faith on our part to compromise on that issue." (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 9/28). THE GREAT ONE FACES OFF: ESPN's Karl Ravetch: "The war of words has begun to heat up, and hockey's biggest gun, Wayne Gretzky, is among several players who are firing away at the commissioner." Gretzky: "It seems like one person is taking the bull by the horns and making a decision for everybody. ... For somebody to come in here who has only been in hockey for one year, and tell us we're not going to play, is very frustrating and extremely disappointing. ... "I hope that it [the sport] doesn't all come crumbling down just because one person wants to change the format" ("SportsCenter," 9/28). NHLPA VP Kelly Miller: "It was very clear today that a salary cap is exactly what Gary Bettman wants" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/27). NEW YORK-TORONTO DIALOGUE: Bettman: "Some people suggest that New York lawyers are running the game and don't care about it. It's not true" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/28). But in Toronto, Gary Joyce writes: "There is no more curious scene in the world of sports than Gary Bettman professing his undying love for the game of hockey." Also in Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes: "That professed love can only be a latter-day crush, at best. If he's not a hired gun, then he's a thug in an elegantly-cut suit" (TORONTO STAR, 9/28). IS THAT VIPERS OR VULTURES? IHL Commissioner Robert Ulfer said that he has spoken with Goodenow about the possibility of NHL players joining IHL clubs if a lockout occurs. Ulfer contended that under current labor laws NHL players could sign temporary contracts with IHL clubs. Houston Aeros GM Steve Patterson conceded that his club is considering signing NHL players to a 25-game contract: "We're an independent team. We could sign anybody." ESPN2 has talked to the IHL about picking up several games if the NHL season is not under way next week. The first game that would be televised would be Houston at Denver, October 2 (Jody Goldstein, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/27). Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher is currently playing for the IHL's Detroit Vipers. The Rangers Ed Olczyk and the Blackhawks Jeremy Roenik have also expressed interest in playing for an IHL team if a lockout occurs (THE DAILY).
At the league meetings in Dallas, the Panthers and the Jaguars received "unexpected generous news" from the NFL management council's executive committee (CEC). The CEC will "recommend to league owners that the expansion teams be awarded an extra pick in all seven rounds" of the '95 draft. It was believed the teams would be given only one additional pick in the first two rounds combined. Owners "are expected to spend today discussing the plan" and approval could come late this afternoon. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones: "It would surprise me if they don't get their vote." The Panthers and Jaguars will also get seven extra picks in the '96 draft, with none in the first two rounds. In February '95, there will be a veteran allocation draft in which NFL teams will expose six players, but can only lose two. To "alleviate fears that the Panthers and Jaguars could raid the free agent market," they must keep 30 players on their roster from this draft, and/or $14M in salaries paid to those players (Charles Chandler, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/28). ALSO ON THE DOCKET: Realignment is the other top issue before the owners. Browns Owner Art Modell: "There are five or six scenarios being recommended. But I don't know if it will even get off the ground. There are entrenched positions in the league" (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 9/28). Approval of the Redskins move to Laurel, MD is expected to pass with no opposition (Baltimore SUN, 9/29). Team reps will also discuss Deion Sanders' signing with the 49ers and "inquire about the possible involvement of a third party in the deal" after reports that Nike "might have played a role." The Saints and Falcons are "sufficiently concerned to make it an issue." Saints Exec VP Jim Miller raised the following scenario to show why the league should deal with the issue: "Say next year or in future years Barry Sanders becomes available and Proctor & Gamble all of a sudden wanted him to be its national sponsor and play in Cincinnati. So they tell him they will pay him $5 million a year if he plays with the Bengals" (Clark Judge, San Jose MERCURY, 9/28). PIRATE BUSTERS: The NFL has hired Secure Signals of Reston, VA, to check sports bars in an effort to crack down on pirating NFL TV games (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/28).
There was a large turnout for the Southern CA stop on MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr's "Solidarity Tour." 77 players, representing 23 of 28 MLB teams, attended the informational session. When the meeting adjourned, players had "re-emphasized their allegiance to each other and insisted that they will not be attending spring training next season if there is no new labor agreement in place." The Dodgers' Eric Karros: "As you come out of those meetings, you're gung-ho. You're pretty much anti-everything" (Lawrence Rocca, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/28). NEW LEAGUE TALK: Fehr also met with agents yesterday, including Dick Moss, "who has always dreamed of a new league and hopes the players can for one by next spring." Fehr: "I don't think a new league is an impossible as people think. I don't think it can get done in a finger-snap, but I've always thought it was a possibility" (Mark Whicker, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/28). In New York, Bill Madden profiles Moss' dream of a player-run league: "Come next spring such a crazy venture might seem like a very palatable alternative to breaking ranks with the union and being branded major-league scabs" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/28). STRIKE NOTE: Ontario provincial law prevents use of replacement players in a labor dispute. Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick: "We'll just have to play 162 road games" (Rod Beaton, USA TODAY, 9/28).