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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 49: BEANTOWN BREAKTHROUGH?
Published November 18, 1994
Negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA resumed yesterday in Boston with plans for the two sides to meet again today. And, according to Joe Gordon in today's BOSTON HERALD, the "lockout logjam might have been effectively broken." One source "close to the negotiations" reports that the owners "were prepared to pull their demand for a restrictive payroll tax off the table in exchange for a quid pro quo that would be a deal-maker." The source: "I know (ownership) was ready to pull the luxury tax off the table (yesterday) afternoon. They wanted something in return in the area of arbitration. I don't think the players would settle for the elimination of arbitration, but I believe they were willing to listen to a proposal that would make it something like baseball arbitration. A player could file for it after three of five years" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/18). CP's Alan Adams also cites "unconfirmed reports that the owners were going to make a meaningful offer with the absence of the controversial payroll tax. But whether that meant the owners were going to remove the tax or put it on a shelf until progress was made on other substantive issues wasn't clear" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18). CLIFF NOTES: Several observers noted the positive effect of Maple Leaf President & GM Cliff Fletcher's presence. In Toronto, Bob McKenzie writes that NHL brass would have not brought Fletcher in "if they didn't think his inclusion is critical to the process" (TORONTO STAR, 11/18). Also in Toronto, Al Strachan writes Fletcher "may have provided the push that was needed" to get the talks moving again (TORONTO SUN, 11/18). Panthers Player Rep John Vanbiesbrouck called Fletcher "a common-sense, compromising authority" (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/18). PRE-THANKSGIVING CARVING: The NHL announced that it has canceled 10 more games, meaning that maximum number of games a team can play in '94-95 is 60 -- 30 at home, 30 on the road (NHL). According to the N.Y. POST, the league is considering shrinking the first two playoff rounds to best-of-five. That could allow for a 56-game schedule starting as late as January 14 (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 11/18). "HOCKEY NIGHT IN EUROPE": A deal is "imminent" with CBC to air games from Wayne Gretzky's planned NHL all-star tour of Europe (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/18).