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HOCKEY PUTS '94-95 SEASON ON ICE: NO CBA, NO PLAY
Published October 12, 1994
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "indefinitely delayed the start of the season ... calling the last proposal by the players union 'a step backward' and questioning its good faith." NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow "contended that Bettman's interpretation 'just highlights our differences,' adding, 'It looks awfully difficult for us to be making progress in the near future. We've always told the players that this could be a long situation. Long could be months or a year" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 10/12). FROM BETTMAN: "Until the union is willing to address our needs, and come back to us with a system that is sensible and allows us to grow, there seems to be little common ground" (THE DAILY). FROM GOODENOW: "Until the owners appreciate that the players are completely opposed to the NHL's take-away demands, we will have little to discuss" (THE DAILY). WHAT NOW? In Tampa, Roy Cummings writes that neither side has made its best offer. One league source "admitted as much Tuesday when he said the NHL eventually could drop its 122 percent tax proposal to around 50 percent" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/12). But NHLPA President Mike Gartner says: "We've got nothing more to bring to the table" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 10/12). Bettman: "Mike Gartner said to me yesterday that he knows their last offer didn't address our needs. There still a way to go in this process" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/11). ESPN's Al Morganti: "Not only was there unanimity in that board meeting today, but I talked to several owners who are convinced the NHL has already gone too far in what they offered the players" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/11). That leaves open the possibility the league "could withdraw the proposal or alter it in a direction away from the union's proposal" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). TORONTO SUN's Al Strachan raises the idea that limits on arbitration and a rookie salary cap may be the owners' "hidden agenda," an idea echoed by Toronto GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts. EYES ON THE "I": Goodenow said the IHL and other leagues "may very well be an option" for players locked-out of the NHL. "And we will now look at those issues as they arise." Bettman addressed the notion of players jumping leagues: "If players are prepared to play for $1,000 a game in the IHL and risk their careers in injury, I'm not sure why they don't want to come to play in the NHL under a system that makes sense and treats them fairly" (THE DAILY). IHL Chicago Wolves President & GM Grant Mulvey: "I don't know what they're doing and I don't think as of right now they even know what they're going to do." Mulvey held open the option of signing some NHLers (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/12). OTHER MINOR ALTERNATIVES: AHL President of Hockey Operations Gordie Anziano noted the AHL is a developmental league for the NHL: "So if players under contracts to NHL teams wanted to come sign a contract with an AHL club, I don't think that we'd do that" (ST. PETE TIMES, 10/12). TV REAX: ESPN's Jimmy Roberts: "The national pastime of a North American country's national sport grinds to a halt. Sound familiar?" ("SportsCenter," 10/11). CNN's Mark Morgan compared hockey to baseball: "No common ground, no talks are scheduled, and -- unfortunately for hockey fans across North America -- the end appears to be no where in sight" ("Sports Tonight," 10/11). ESPN's Al Morganti: "Very seriously, we're looking at if not a 40-game season, no season" ("SportsCenter," 10/11).