SBD/11/Leagues Governing Bodies

WOULD A HOCKEY ROOKIE SALARY CAP BE BAD NEWS FOR NFL & NBA?

     In Boston, Michael Gee examines the likely NHL rookie salary
cap and its potential effect on other sports leagues.  NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman's "victory will almost certainly spawn
an antitrust suit with the potential to cost the NHL owners far
more than they'll ever save from any of the concessions they
wring out of the current players.  And such a suit could wreak
havoc" with the NFL and NBA.  Gee notes that the player draft is
the most "obvious example of restraint of trade to be found in
American commerce."  A potential employee cannot freely choose
his employer.  But, the NHL deal would "change the equation.  It
would remove the bribe that is the linchpin of the draft system."
Sooner or later, there will be a rookie -- "the next Gretzky" --
who could challenge the system.  Agent Steve Freyer: "If I were a
top NHL draft choice, I'd certainly be considering the
possibility (of a lawsuit)."  The player that sues could contend
that since he is an amateur, and not a member of the union which
negotiated the agreement, he is yet to surrender any rights.  The
owners will argue that "merely wanting to play NHL hockey makes
you subject to the contract that binds all the league's players."
If the courts find the hockey draft illegal, "the resulting free
market for amateurs will send salaries soaring" (BOSTON HERALD,
1/11).
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