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NHL AND ITS OFFICIALS SQUARE OFF: A SECOND LABOR DISPUTE?
Published October 26, 1994
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met yesterday with officials of the NHL Officials' Association and their representative, Don Meehan, to discuss whether the language on the collective bargaining agreement agreed upon by both sides last year is official. In particular, the officials are threatening a lawsuit if the league stops paying refs and linesmen during the lockout. "The meeting dragged into the evening with no immediate word of progress, but it appears the dispute will not be resolved quickly." The contract says the league is obligated to pay officials for 45 days from the beginning of a players' strike, but sources say the deal makes no mention of a lockout. "However, Bettman is arguing that the new contract was never signed by either side, and thus the league is not under any obligation to pay." One official: "What we've done is sat here and kept our mouths shut and hoped things took care of themselves. But now (the league) is just trying to use the language of the contract against us" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/26). Despite the pay controversy, Meehan emerged calling the meeting "very positive." Meehan said the league will respond to the NHLOA's submission by 5pm EDT today (Steve Buffrey, TORONTO SUN, 10/26). Meehan's submission is thought to ask for an extension of the November 15 cut-off date for payment to the officials (Frank Orr, TORONTO STAR, 10/26). CNN's Fred Hickman, on the officials' concerns: "I guess they like to eat" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/25).