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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 82: ANTI-TAX RALLY TODAY
Published December 21, 1994
Following yesterday's meeting of 26 player reps in Toronto, the NHLPA expects as many as 200 players to convene for a briefing on the state of talks with the league. "The morning line is that today's meeting will not be a stormy affair," writes Bob McKenzie of the TORONTO STAR. "If the players are as like- minded on the issues as we've been led to believe it will turn into a rally" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21). NHLPA spokesperson Steve McAllister: "There'll be an update on negotiations, but there won't be a vote. There's really nothing to vote on" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/21). NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow "said the only vote would be the ratification vote after all the cards are on the table and the final offer is made" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 12/21). After yesterday's meeting, the player reps were adamant in their public opposition to a tax. The Penguins' Larry Murphy: "If they insist on the tax, it'll kill the year. So, really, it's up to Gary Bettman whether he wants to shut the season down or not" (Paul Hunter, TORONTO STAR, 12/21). THE PLAYERS' CHOICE: According to Roy Cummings in this morning's TAMPA TRIBUNE, Goodenow will inform the players that they "miscalculated" regarding the owners' resolve and have only two options to save the season: 1) Make major concessions on arbitration to convince owners to drop their luxury tax. The players would probably have to agree to non-binding arbitration after five years. 2) Accept and negotiate a tax and "fight for the status quo in salary arbitration." Notes Cummings, "This may be their best option. ... There will no doubt be plenty of support for [standing firm and losing the season] from the players, but the bet around NHL circles is that Goodenow will talk his players out of it" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/21). In New York, Mark Everson writes, "In order to avoid a tax, it appears the players may have to give up almost everything else they've gained in the past 20 years" (N.Y. POST, 12/21). ON THE OWNERS' SIDE: The CANADIAN PRESS is reporting that sources say the owners have two proposals on the table -- one with a tax and one without (VANCOUVER SUN, 12/21). In Toronto, Paul Hunter reports sources say there was "serious talk among some owners Monday centering around presenting an offer without the tax. However, the word on the management grapevine yesterday was the tax is still very much on the table and will remain there. The only way that it will be removed is if the players drop all demands for salary arbitration and extended free agency." Adds Hunter, "That won't happen" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21). NEWS & NOTES: Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch, to a Detroit radio station earlier this week: "Why not just come right out and say 'cap' now? I mean, it's a cap. That's what we're after here. They're using other fancy terms, but that's what it boils down to" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/21)....The AHL is facing its own labor problems. In yesterday's editions of Quebec's LE SOLEIL, one AHL player said that talk of a pre-playoffs walkout is growing. AHL players have been without a contract since August (AP/TORONTO STAR, 12/21).... Canucks President Pat Quinn suggested the NHL season might be shortened to 40 games (TORONTO SUN, 12/21)....Capitals center Dave Poulin came away from a phone conversation with Goodenow confident there will be a deal after Christmas. But Bruins GM Harry Sinden said: "There isn't a damned thing to agree on" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 12/21).