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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 48: GM'S VENT IN "GROUP RANT"
Published November 17, 1994
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow meet again today, but based on the media breakfast held yesterday by the league's 26 GMs, "there is little hope" the talks will produce any movement. The 26 GMs "collectively accused Goodenow ... of negotiating in bad faith. Or in the words of a couple of general managers, of refusing to negotiate at all" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/17). "What was supposed to be a congenial meeting turned hostile when the question of financial reporting procedures was raised" (CANADIAN PRESS/Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/17). Oilers President & GM Glen Sather: "I had our player rep to my house and I showed him the information on our team and he said, 'Wow, is that real?' I said, 'Do you think I want to go to jail? We've already got one guy in this league going to jail and I don't want to be the second one.'" Sather was referring to former L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall (Mult., 11/17). In New York, Joe LaPointe, who calls the session an "extraordinary group rant," takes issue with the GMs' claims that their figures are accurate as long as they refuse to make full disclosure. NHLPA attorney John McCambridge: "They have given us compiled revenues, but no profit and losses statements, no expenses and no idea of which teams are making or losing money except for the Rangers" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/17). PANTS ON FIRE: Sather: "I don't understand how Goodenow can say what we're saying isn't true. He's calling us all liars." Goodenow: "Oh, please. I haven't called anyone a liar. What I have said is that people structure their businesses differently and we don't want to analyze the structure of 26 businesses. ... I have never raised this as a question of honesty" (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 11/17). WHAT TO EXPECT TODAY: Following several reports yesterday, many observers expect NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to offer a plan that cuts the league's proposed payroll tax from 122% to 60%. In Toronto, Dave Fuller writes, "The longest work stoppage in NHL history could be over today if the players accept the league's new proposal on a luxury payroll tax." One league source: "Everything else would fall into place if they agree to the tax" (TORONTO SUN, 11/17). Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher will join the Devils' Lou Lamoriello, the Bruins' Harry Sinden and the Flyers' Bobby Clarke on the league's side of the table today. The NHLPA will not expand its negotiating team (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 11/17). Sinden confirmed that today's talks will be held in Boston (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/17). ARBITRATION: In Tampa, Roy Cummings reports the league may be prepared to offer a new system in which players become temporary free agents (30 days) after winning an arbitration case, with the team retaining all rights to match any offer. If the player doesn't get a better price, he would have to return at the team's original arbitration offer (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/17). Sinden on the union's offer to allow two-way contracts and eliminate salary arbitration for rookies: "I described it as giving a canoe to an Arab. In the last 20 years, we've probably had 4,000 draftees. Not one, to my knowledge, even went to arbitration. And I'd say 95 percent of all the draft choices are on two-way contracts anyway" (Jeff Jacobs, HARTFORD COURANT, 11/17). ROOKIE RESTRICTIONS: In Toronto, Al Strachan writes that some entry-level restrictions is the "spark that could ignite the process." He proposes either extending a team's rights to an unsigned rookie from two years to three or bonding a draftee to a team until he's 22. The players might accept the first option in return for more freedom for veteran players (TORONTO SUN, 11/17). D-DAY? Bettman: "I'm frustrated, I'm sure the players are frustrated. I'm not going to throw up my hands and rush off until I have no choice and we're not at that stage yet. Although, I think we'd all agree we're getting periously close to that point" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 11/16).