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IS THE IHL LOOKING TO "BUSH-WHACK" THE NHL?
Published October 6, 1994
"While the NHL is worrying about hammering out a new deal with the players' association, shouldn't somebody be worrying about the [IHL]?," asks Mike Beamish in this morning's VANCOUVER SUN. The IHL has expanded into 13 of the top 30 American media markets. The NHL, which is in 14 of the top 30 U.S. markets, has no right to exclude minor-league teams from its cities -- unlike MLB. And that has caused concerns among one NHL owner, Mike Ilitch of the Red Wings, about Commissioner Gary Bettman's "get tough strategy" in the labor talks. IHL expansion fees will reach $6-8M next year, with New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, Mexico City and Toronto under consideration for franchises. Cleveland Lumberjacks owner Larry Gordon, former GM of the Edmonton Oilers: "What's happened to our league is happening in all areas of the country. Hockey is taking off" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/6). MORE THAN A MINOR CHALLENGE? Beamish writes, "One might wonder whether the IHL is in a better position to make a run at the NHL" than the WHA did in '72. Some IHL owners, including Gordon, "insist" the IHL "neither desires nor can afford a challenge to the NHL's supremacy. Still, they're acting suspiciously like an outfit planning to become a major-league rival, perhaps raising the possibility of an NFL-AFL merger scenario" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/6). VIPERS REFUSE TO BITE: Detroit Vipers GM and Coach Rick Dudley "rebuffed" a call from Maple Leafs player Doug Gilmour asking to play for the team. Dudley said he did not want to "disrupt" his lineup only to have Gilmour return to the NHL when their season resumes. The IHL has "officially" told clubs not to start signing NHL players, but Las Vegas Thunder GM Bob Strumm is willing to. If Strumm signs NHL players, Dudley "said he would change his mind" about Gilmour (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/6). BUT THE MOOSE ARE CALLING: The Minnesota Moose have offered Dallas Stars centers Mike Modano and Neil Broten and Flames defenseman Phil Housley $1,000 per game to join the IHL franchise. Modano is interested in playing for the Moose, but added that he has to review his insurance policy with the Stars. Stars Coach/GM Bob Gainey did not think there are any contractual impediments to keep NHL players out of the IHL (Terry Egan, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/5).