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The NHLPA has booked Hamilton's Copps Coliseum from November 10-12 for a tournament involving its members. A source close to the NHLPA confirmed that a deal has been reached with the CTV television network to broadcast the games across Canada. "The Hamilton tournament is expected to be the first of several held by the union in non-NHL cities, unless the lockout ends soon." Among the players expected to play are Wayne Gretzky, Doug Gilmour and Sergei Fedorov. The format -- whether players represent their home countries or are divided up randomly -- is still to be decided (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/25). CHICAGO HOPE? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow held an unannounced meeting at a hotel near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. It was their first face-to-face meeting since October 10, the day before Bettman postponed the season. Representatives for both sides reported that no progress was made and no new proposals were presented. Asked about the schedule for future meetings, NHL VP of Communications Arthur Pincus said, "We're not discussing it [publicly]" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 10/25). Since Bettman meets with several player agents and representatives of the officials' union today, and Goodenow has a similar meeting with agents on Thursday, "it appears the earliest [another] meeting could be scheduled is Friday" (Frank Orr, TORONTO STAR, 10/25). "A lot of activity, but no progress" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/25). "They might not be saying much, but they are talking" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/25). Bettman was accompanied by NHL Dir of Hockey Ops Brian Burke and General Counsel Jeffrey Pash, while Goodenow brought NHLPA Associate Counsel Ian Pulver (Frank Brown, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/25). Goodenow: "They were general discussions" (TORONTO SUN, 10/25). FIRST SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT: The NHL announced that it has canceled four games for each of the 26 clubs -- two home and two away. According to the league release, "No decision will be announced as to which games will be canceled until a start date for the season can be determined" (NHL). "The league made a conservative start to what is certain to be more sizable slashes in the schedule" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/25). "The meeting took some of the sting off the first official cancellation of games" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/25). CNBC's Sue Herera: "NHL officials are finally admitting the full season cannot be played, even if the lockout ends" ("Market Wrap," 10/24). Jets Coach & GM John Paddock: "When the games were just postponed, it gave the players a false illusion that if they hung in there, they could still get their full pay cheque. Now that's changed" (Ed Willes, WINNIPEG SUN, 10/25). CANADIAN FAN POLL: The Angus Reid-Southam News survey of 780 adult hockey fans in Canada was conducted from October 20-23. 43% support the owners, and 25% back the players. The rest are undecided or back neither or both. Pollster Angus Reid: "They believe some Canadian franchises will never be able to compete with large American teams, and that without some kind of salary limits they'll collapse and move to the U.S. ... In general, those regions with vulnerable teams -- Alberta, Manitoba and even Quebec with the Nordiques -- show the highest level of support for the owners" (Doug Fischer, SOUTHAM NEWS/OTTAWA CITIZEN, 10/25). AS IF THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT: Bettman and Pash meet with Don Meehan, agent for the league's officials, and NHLOA President Terry Greggson today. Meehan says there are 10- 12 issues still unresolved before the CBA with officials can be ratified, including "one big sticking point that could have caused a problem had the season opened as scheduled" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 10/25).
Two NBA players, the Warriors' David Wood and the Timberwolves' Howard Eisley, sued the NBA in Federal Court in Newark, NJ, yesterday, alleging that the league's salary cap was "artificially reduced this season" by $2.75M per team. The suit contends that the NBA lowered the players' share of revenues by some $74M, "anticipating a contribution to a players' pre-pension benefit plan." But since plan was "terminated by the union" last June, the two players contend that the money was "improperly" returned to team owners. The players are seeking an increase in the cap of approximately $2.75M per team to account for the $74M "allegedly kept by the league." Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represents both players, said because of salary-cap limitations claimss, his clients had to sign for the league minimum (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/25). NBA attorney Jeffrey Mishkin said that no contribution was made to the players' benefit plan in '93-94 because salaries exceeded 53% of defined gross revenues (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/25).