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HOCKEY TALKS IN DEEP FREEZE; WHO WILL BREAK THE ICE?
Published October 17, 1994
"Like two people after a first date, neither the NHL nor the union apparently wants to make the first move and be seen as overanxious or too willing to make a settlement. ... The owners, however, clearly believe [NHLPA Exec Dir] Bob Goodenow and his negotiating committee are stalling, and so [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman is expected to call Goodenow today or tomorrow to arrange some bargaining sessions for this week" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/17). The NHLPA claims it "is trying to figure out what can be negotiated." Goodenow: "We thought they were trying to help the small-market teams, but apparently not. Now they say the issue is a salary cap. If that's really the issue, we have a huge problem" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 10/17). PLAYER EXODUS BEGINS: Marty McSorley, a member of the NHLPA's negotiating team, is said to be "very, very close" to signing a deal with the IHL Las Vegas Thunder. McSorley's brother is a Thunder assistant coach. Meanwhile, the Kings said Jari Kurri will return to play in Finland, while the Nordiques have given Peter Forsberg permission to play for his former Swedish League team (AP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/17). McSorley's salary reportedly would be between $5,000-10,000/game, but CNN's Mark Morgan noted, "more importantly, McSorley would become the first established NHL player to join a minor league team during the lockout" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/16). Kai Hietarinta, president of the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation and treasurer of the IIHF, responded to the IIHF's position that NHL players will not be welcome in Europe: "We welcome our players back with open arms. The IIHF might not like it" (CANADIAN PRESS/VANCOUVER SUN, 10/15). NOT GOING ANYWHERE: Neil Abbott, agent for Jeremy Roenick, who expressed interest in playing for the IHL Chicago Wolves, said it doesn't make sense "economically" for Roenick to play elsewhere, given the likely cost of insurance (Robert Markus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15). LACE 'EM UP: The NHLPA said on Friday that players were free to resume skating. NHLPA spokesperson Steve McAllister, who denied a "no-skate" directive was ever issued by the union, said returning to the ice "should [not] be perceived as a sign of weakness" (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/15). Ranger Player Rep Mike Richter floated the idea of a players' league (N.Y. POST, 10/15). CHICAGO FIRE, PART II? Blackhawk defenseman Cam Russell denied a report from the TORONTO STAR last week that Goodenow had to fly to Chicago "to put out a potential fire" last week in the form of insurrection among Blackhawk players. Russell: "Some guys had some concerns, but there wasn't anybody on our team at yesterday's meetings who expressed any desire to turn against the union" (Robert Markus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15). NHLPA spokesperson Steve McAllister said Goodenow's trip was "not a trouble-shooting mission" (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/17). Despite claims of unity, Stephen Harris writes it is "merely a question of time before cracks begin to show in the ranks" of the NHLPA (BOSTON HERALD, 10/14). One "NHL insider": "I give them about three paychecks. Then, they'll be back" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/15). FANS FIGHT BACK: Long Island attorney Paul Kurland, an Islanders season-ticket holder, notified Bettman that he will file a class-action suit on November 1 insisting the owners start the season or issue complete refunds to season-ticket holders (Filip Bondy, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16).