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REACTIONS FROM 13 NHL MARKETS
Published October 12, 1994
ANAHEIM: Mighty Ducks President Tony Tavares: "We have a very, very high incentive to play this season. But that incentive is a short-term incentive versus a need for systemic change." Ducks Player Rep Bob Corkum: "We just want a solid marketplace to shop our skills" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 10/12). BOSTON: Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden, at the press conference: "The progress has been meaningless and fruitless" (THE DAILY). EDMONTON: Oilers President & GM Glen Sather: "What you have today is not a partnership. It's being dominated by one side and the other side isn't having enough to survive on" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/11). In Toronto, Al Strachan writes if Sather were commissioner, the NHL "wouldn't be in the mess it's in today" (TORONTO SUN, 10/12). MIAMI: Panthers Player Rep John Vanbiesbrouk: "We know whatever [Bettman] says about us is not true because he does not speak for us. He speaks for his interpretations of us which comes from his lack of respect for the players and that he thinks we're stupid." Panthers President Bill Torrey: "The 30% increases every year have got to come to a stop, unless the players feel our fans should have to spend $40 or $50 a game" (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 10/12). NEW YORK: Joe LaPointe writes, "Surely a commissioner as smart as Gary Bettman had to know that no union would capitulate to his demands. Certainly the owners who employed him had to know had to know that this agenda was a collision course in a game of chicken that is dangerous from both sides. His efforts amount to simple union-busting, strength against strength" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). Rangers President & GM Neil Smith: "I'm hoping there will be hockey at the end of October, but it certainly doesn't look good today" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/11). OTTAWA: Roy MacGregor writes that the owners came off as "a bunch of thugs, grumpy old men in suits who gathered -- in a setting not unlike a Politburo -- to shift the blame and squeeze a little harder. ... The players came off as, well, naive" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 10/12). PHILADELPHIA: Flyers Owner Ed Snider: "We're ready to stay out the entire season. We're fighting for the survival of the [NHL]" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/12). SAN JOSE: The "uncertainty" surrounding the NHL season is causing city officials and civic leaders to fear that the All- Star Game might be lost. San Jose Sports Authority Exec Dir Dean Munro: "Everyone still has their fingers crossed that it will still be played. But if it isn't, our hope is that we'd have the next available year." The San Jose Convention and Visitor's Bureau conservatively expects a $1.3M boost from the All-Star game. Boston hosts the '96 game (Scott Herhold, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/12). ST. LOUIS: "It should have been a glorious day in Blues history. They were to have played their first game in their spiffy new home, the $135 million Kiel Center. Instead, Tuesday will go down as a dark day, not only in franchise history but also in National Hockey League history" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/12). TAMPA BAY: Lightning Governor David LeFevre, noting the NHLPA's proposal would have a top tax of $3 million: "That's one player. Do you think $3 million is going to deter a Stanley Cup contender from signing a player? It's not a big deal." Lightning Player Rep Brian Bradley: "I read our proposal for an hour last night and I think it was very fair" (Cammy Clark, ST. PETE TIMES, 10/12). TORONTO: Mike Gartner: "Maybe we're getting close to a situation like baseball" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 10/12). Bob McKenzie reports that, according to those at the Board of Governors meeting, Bettman asked the following: "Are there any teams that can't make it through a season with no games? ... Are there any teams not willing to go through a season with no games?" McKenzie: "The silence spoke volumes." One NHL owner: "We are in this for the long haul" (TORONTO STAR, 10/12). Maple Leaf President Cliff Fletcher: "It is not inconceivable that there could be no hockey played this year" (TORONTO STAR, 10/12). VANCOUVER: Jim Taylor writes that Bettman's hard-line was his way of "pouring water over the player's association dam to see if there were any cracks." According to one source "highly placed" in TV marketing for the NHL: "The league is convinced that the association isn't as unified as it likes to let on, that if Goodenow can't get a deal, some of the higher-profile players will put the pressure on and either force a deal or lead a revolt. So Bettman will delay the opening to give the unrest time to work" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/12). Canucks Player Rep Trevor Linden: "We are prepared for the long haul and we are prepared for the worst" (Ellliott Pap, VANCOUVER SUN, 10/12). WASHINGTON: Capitals/Bullets Owner Abe Pollin: "We can never stop the overspending on our own. In the NBA, we offered the players 53 percent of our profits. The average salary then was $250,000. Now it's $1.6 million. How have the players suffered? They haven't, and the owners have done well" (Sandra McKee, Baltimore SUN, 10/12). NHLPA VP Kelly Miller: "They want it all. ... It's just a huge money grab on their part" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/12).