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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 14: EUROPE SHUTS ITS DOORS
Published October 14, 1994
"European clubs won't be allowed to sign locked out NHL players and ignite a potential legal battle," according to Rene Fasel, president of the Int'l Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Fasel: "We will not let them play. We have a contract with the NHL (governing player transfers) and will abide by that contract." NHLPA spokesperson Steve McAllister said the union has not yet explored the legal hurdles on playing in Europe or the minors. McAllister said the NHLPA "will make its position clear next week" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 10/14). Fasel's statement "came as a surprise" to several agents. Ron Salcer, who represents Pavel Bure among others: "This would be very disturbing" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 10/14). On advice from its lawyers, the NHL decided "not to prevent players from playing in the IHL or Europe during the work stoppage" (Dave Fuller, TORONTO SUN, 10/14). For one, the Canucks won't stand in Bure's way if he wants to play in Europe. Canucks VP George McPhee: "Legally, he can do it" (Iain MacIntyre, VANCOUVER SUN, 10/14). And after meeting with Doug Gilmour, who is seeking a place to play, Maple Leaf President Cliff Fletcher would only say: "He wants to play to keep in as much shape as possible, but it's not a risk-free thing" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/14). The IIHF's decision "is surely to result in a windfall for lawyers, as clubs and the players involved are expected to challenge the ruling in court" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/14). THE IHL: The N.Y. TIMES reports that Marty McSorley, a member of the NHLPA's negotiating team, is seeking to play with the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 10/14). But agent Rick Dudley is doubtful that IHL teams "will open up their rosters." Dudley: "I don't think the Detroit Vipers -- who are basically sold out, anyway -- are going to bring in five NHL players. The economics would discourage them" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/14). P.R. EFFORTS: St. Louis was the first stop for NHL VP of Hockey Operations Brian Burke in a seven-city tour that will take him to Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose and Dallas. Burke: "It drives me nuts to read quotes where a player says this'll drive salaries down, it'll be tax avoidance, teams will trade players to get down to the cap. We've guaranteed that their share will not be diminished." Burke also called the union's slow pace during negotiations "intolerable and inexcusable" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/14). Execs from all NHL clubs met with media to go over facts and figures. Lightning Governor David LeFevre: "These figures are real. There are teams losing money, and we are one of them" (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/14). But in Vancouver, Tony Gallagher calls the NHL's claim that players get 62% of gross revenue a "monstrous distortion" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/14). BACK TO THE TABLE? CNN's Nick Charles: "The key to the NHL labor news today can be summed up in a single work: Nothing" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/13). Burke said the league will attempt to restart talks next week (Mult.) NHL VP Communications Arthur Pincus said the league will have an announcement "later this week" on the schedule and possible cancellations (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 10/14). CRACK-IN-THE-FACADE WATCH: In Toronto, Dave Fuller writes the owners "appear to be playing a game of divide-and-conquer" with the players. But, "as antsy as the players are to get back to work, there are no signs yet of a rift developing inside the union" (TORONTO SUN, 10/14). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont asks, "How long can the rank and file go without checks? ... Probably 50-60 percent of the NHLPA membership will begin to feel the crunch in a matter of 3-5 paychecks (mid-November to mid- December). The owners are banking on it, literally" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/13). NO BIG LOSS: Salomon Brothers' Jay Cohen on the impact on ITT's recent acquisition of Madison Square Garden, the Rangers, Knicks and MSG Network: "Even if the season is lost, affect on earnings may be a nickel a share in '95. And I expect the company earns about $8.80 a share, so it's a relatively minor impact" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 10/13).