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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 24: SECRET TALKS, PASS IT ALONG
Published October 24, 1994
While both sides are denying that the resumption of talk is imminent, "there will be a secret meeting early this week" between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow "at an undisclosed location," according to a report in this morning's TORONTO STAR. One top player agent: "This is a very important week" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/24). It is believed the league "is prepared to bring a new proposal" to meetings this week (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/22). Meanwhile, the league is taking its case to agents sending them information on their proposal and the state of negotiations. While Murray Chass refers to it as "Phase II" of the NHL's effort to generate support on the opposing side, one agent said it was just a "propaganda package" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/24). Agent Don Meehan: "I am a little tired of both sides trying to convince me of how right they are and I'd like both sides to direct some energies to sitting down and finding out a way to resolve these issues" (CANADIAN PRESS/VANCOUVER SUN, 10/24). NHLPA ALL-STAR GAME: The NHLPA has made preliminary inquiries regarding the availability of Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, in late November for a possible exhibition all-star game (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/22). EUROPE & THE MINORS: The Swedish Elite League effectively "froze out" NHL players by announcing that it would allow them to compete only if they committed to an entire season (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/23). In New York, Joe LaPointe examines the "hands- off" policy taken by the IHL owners toward signing NHL players. Agent/former player Brian Lawton: "Part of it is fear. The NHL is very powerful." Agent Mark Gandler: "They are just looking for excuses. I say it's a bunch of baloney. I will give them another few days and then I will look at a legal recourse" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23). In Newark, Walt MacPeek writes, "It is only a matter of time, perhaps a week, before an agent or a player sues one of the minor leagues, along with the NHL, and then the whole labor-management dispute could become further tangled in the courts" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/23). CAN'T TELL THE OWNERS WITHOUT A SCORECARD: In Toronto, William Houston breaks ownership into three groups: Hawks, Doves and Fence-Sitters. THE HAWKS: Bruins (Jeremy Jacobs), Devils (John McMullen), Red Wings (Mike Ilitch), Blackhawks (Bill Wirtz), Flyers (Ed Snider), Jets (Barry Shenkarow), Panthers (Wayne Huizenga), Whalers (Peter Karmanos) & Penguins (Howard Baldwin). THE DOVES: Maple Leafs (Steve Stavro), Mighty Ducks (Michael Eisner), Rangers (Charles Dolan), Kings (Jeffrey Sudikoff), Canucks (Arthur Griffiths), Flames, Canadiens (Molson), Islanders (Robert Rosenthal and Stephen Walsh) & Oilers (Peter Pocklington). THE FENCE-SITTERS: Blues, Capitals, Sharks, Stars, Nordiques, Sabres, Lightning & Senators. Baldwin went from Dove to Hawk after becoming upset with Goodenow's "obstinance." Pocklington changed his stance after getting a more favorable lease (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/22). SAVE THE SMALL-MARKETS: Milwaukee-based sports-valuation expert Michael Megna sees a "high probability" that within a decade there may only be three Canadian teams remaining -- Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver -- with others moving to bigger U.S. cities such as Denver and Phoenix. Buy Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden calls that prospect "the worst thing we could do." Noting that 2/3 of NHL players are Canadian, Sinden says if the NHL leaves smaller Canadian cities, "the kids in those areas would lose interest, and the NHL will eventually run short of players" (William Symonds, BUSINESS WEEK, 10/31 issue). FROM THE SIDELINES: If the season is canceled, the city of Detroit will lose more than $1.5M in ticket surcharge and parking revenues generated by Red Wings games (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 10/17-24 issue). SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Michael Farber suggests the players agree to a rookie cap and give up on salary arbitration, and the owners concede to a larger non-compensation free agent pool. According to a "high-placed" NHL exec, such a deal "would go a long way to getting owners to open the doors" (Gare Joyce, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/24). In Vancouver, Mike Beamish nominates Harvard Law Professor Paul Weiler as a potential mediator. Weiler: "A mediator isn't any good unless both sides want one. My worry is they're waiting to see what goes on in baseball first" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/22). San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer and mayors from 16 other NHL cities called on both sides to end the lockout. San Jose faces the potential loss of the All-Star Game (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/22).