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NHL REPORTS $32M LOSS IN '92-93; PLAYERS DON'T BUY IT
Published October 4, 1994
As the NHL labor talks resume today, the league continues to "confront a pattern of stonewalling" from NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow, according to a report in this morning's N.Y. POST. Larry Brooks bases this conclusion on "financial documents and a year of correspondence between the NHL and the NHLPA." Among the findings: In conjunction with the union last Fall, the NHL developed a "comprehensive financial report" -- the Unified Report of Operation -- to provide accounting of all teams' expenses and revenues; the NHL reports an operating deficit of $32M for '92-93, the last season for which complete records are complied; the Unified Report was the result of a suggestion in a 9/30/93 correspondence from the union; repeated attempts from the NHL to open negotiations were rebuffed as long as the owners' proposal tied revenues to salaries; the NHLPA did not request partial financial information until August 31. Concludes the POST's Brooks, "If the pattern persists, if Goodenow's position remains intransigent, the 'postponement' will become a lockout, which might indeed last for the duration of the season" (N.Y. POST, 10/4). TRUTH OR DARE: In response to reports that most NHL clubs are losing money, William Houston cites "informed NHL observers" who say they are not accurate. "In terms of money in and money out, only two teams were in the red last year -- the Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers -- but in the case of Winnipeg, the city underwrites any loss incurred by the club." For example, Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. can report a '94 gross of over C$60M (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/4). Capitals President Dick Patrick said the team lost $8M last year, with player salaries ("around $15 million") causing the bulk of the deficit. Union sources claim creative accounting, and cite '92 figures in which USAir Arena sky box and parking receipts were counted as "arena revenue," not "hockey revenue" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 10/4). CANADIAN PRESS' Alan Adams reports that, since the over $20M in economic rollbacks imposed in August by Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL owners have spent "more than 10 times that amount" on player salaries, including $70M for the '94-95 season alone (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/4). NOT BUYIN' IT: Lightning Player Rep Brian Bradley: "You can't tell me that big corporations like the ones that have bought the Rangers are getting into this thing just so they can hang out with the guys and go to games. There's big money to be made in this league. ... And I think they're just trying to push the players down and keep them from getting any of it" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/4).