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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE I: ALL-STAR GAME CANCELED
Published December 9, 1994
The NHL announced the cancellation of the All-Star Game which was scheduled to be played on January 21 in San Jose. In September, the NHL announced its deal with Fox Sports to carry a limited number of games, and that Nike and Anheuser-Busch were signing on as marketing partners. The Fox deal was to have started with the San Jose All-Star Game. Maple Leafs President & GM Cliff Fletcher: "The Fox Network needs a lot of lead-in time to promote this game. With all of the uncertainty, there was no alternative but to cancel it" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/9). REAX: Fox execs "downplayed the significance of the loss of the game and the league will likely have to offer some sort of rebate to the network" (Cox & McKenzie, TORONTO STAR, 12/9). Nike Sports Marketing Divisional Manager Doug Stamm told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: "We're still committed to the NHL. ... We still believe in the strength of hockey." Stamm said Nike considers itself "partners" with the NHL and notes that their deal is "three-prong" -- media, the international game and street hockey programs. Stamm made a point to stress that Nike is committed to increase participation in street hockey programs (THE DAILY). Fox Sports President David Hill, asked if he was upset about the cancellation: "Now I can schedule a firm time for the All-Madden team" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 12/9). In Boston, Jim Baker notes -- if there is a season -- that Fox won't have its first hockey telecast until regional coverage on the season's last two Sundays (BOSTON HERALD, 12/9). Tony Ponturo, VP/Corporate Media & Sports Marketing for Anheuser- Busch, would not comment on the cancellation, but released the following: "We remain tremendously excited about the association that Ice Draft and Ice Draft Light will have with the NHL. The NHL is the No. 1 marketing activity that we have planned for our Ice Draft brands" (A-B) OTHER DEALS? In New York, Neal Travis reports another potential deal with a major corporation could be in jeopardy if the NHL cancels its season. Travis cites rumors that MCA/Universal was interested in buying the Lightning and moving the team to its entertainment complex in Orlando, but may reconsider in light of the lockout (N.Y. POST, 12/9). MEANWHILE, OVERSEAS ... While announcing that a seventh game had been added to his all-star team's tour of Europe, Wayne Gretzky predicted there would be a European division of the NHL "within the next 10 years." Peter Gudmunsson, GM of Swedish club Djurgarden: "When I listen to Wayne talk about the NHL in Europe, I think the time has come" (CP/ Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/9). Team Gretzky coach Doug Wilson: "This tour may never end" (TORONTO STAR, 12/9). Mark Messier told the N.Y. POST that he guarantees a new league will form if the NHL cancels the season. Messier: "And it won't be next year. It will be in February or early January. ... We'll be looking at an interlocking schedule with Canada, the U.S. and Europe. It has been a surprise to come here and see the response the teams are getting" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 12/9).