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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE II: GOODENOW, BETTMAN TRADE FAXES
Published December 9, 1994
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow did not speak by telephone as expected, but the two sides did restate their positions via fax. DEAR GARY: Goodenow "urged Bettman to reconsider his stand on the payroll tax issue and suggested that a new collective bargaining agreement could be reached without one." Goodenow wrote, "Everyone involved in these negotiations over the last few weeks was aware of the fact that we had made numerous concessions to create a 'drag' as an alternative to the tax/cap system you had previously proposed. It was also understood that these concessions would not have been made as part of a system involving a tax on team payrolls" (Steve Buffery, TORONTO SUN, 12/9). MESSAGE TO BOB: In a letter sent by Bettman and NHL General Counsel Jeff Pash to NHL Governors and GMs, the league "charged that in discussions with its membership, the union was 'either misrepresenting the proposal or does not understand it'" (TORONTO SUN, 12/9). Pash also took issue with the union's claim that the NHL's tax works out to a marginal rate of 81%, writing that the marginal rate would instead be 61% (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 12/9). TAX TALK: NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus "said too much has been made of the extreme end of the tax structure. For example, if a club spent $32 million on salaries, it would be taxed at 25 percent of the total payroll, which Pincus said 'isn't dealing in reality.'" Pincus: "Half the teams in the league don't even have $32 million in revenues. They're not going to spend that on salaries" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/9). Comparing the league's tax plan with the union's October tax proposal of 7%, Roy Cummings of the TAMPA TRIBUNE writes the "majority of NHL teams paying a payroll tax actually would pay less in taxes under the league's plan than they would under the NHLPA plan" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/9). But a report in yesterday's DALLAS MORNING NEWS indicates that enough progress had been made on free agency, arbitration and a rookie cap for the two sides to make a deal. Stars President Jim Lites: "The difference between what the owners are offering and where the union is on these issues is not significant" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/8). In Toronto, Scott Morrison writes, "How do you cancel a season when not enough teams need the tax that is causing all the trouble?" (TORONTO SUN, 12/9). MONDAY'S MEETING: Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden, on Monday's NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York: "I think the vote will be 100 percent to keep talking. There is a group that might want to pull the plug right away, and another that feels we should take whatever they give us. Both groups at the extremities aren't big. ... In my opinion, the board will say (to Bettman), 'It's not good enough, see if you can keep going and get to the point where we can accept it'" (Stephen Harris, BOSTON HERALD, 12/9).