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NHL PLAYERS REJECT NEW PROPOSAL, PREPARE FOR LOCKOUT
Published September 28, 1994
"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).