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HOCKEY RELEASED! DESPITE GRUMBLINGS, RATIFICATION EXPECTED
Published January 13, 1995
The NHL and its players reached agreement on the "major items among the 'transitional issues' that are still casting a shadow on today's contract-ratification vote by the players," according to today's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. While most were optimistic that the new CBA would receive a majority vote from the 700 NHLPA members, the issue of "grandfathering" for players formerly classed as Group I could cause some "no" votes. While the union was telling agents that the players would be eligible for arbitration under the old rules, there was no indication that the league had agreed to that. Several agents were promising legal action if their clients were going to be forced to live under the new rules this year (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/13). VOTE QUOTES: Bruin Cam Neely, one of the 30-year-old players who will have to wait longer to be a free agent, will vote no: "If that's what we had to give up, you'd think we could have given that in August or September" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). Blackhawk Ed Belfour, another 30-year-old non-free agent: "You can't always get what you want" (Daryl Van Schouwen, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/13). Panthers Player Rep John Vanbiesbrouk predicted that doubts about the transitional issues would not affect any votes (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 1/13). But "rumblings" from the Islanders indicate the vote may be closer than expected (Peter Botte, N.Y. POST, 1/13). Red Wings Player Rep Terry Carkner: "We have to remind the guys that a 'no' vote means you want the season to end" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 1/13). Canuck Sergio Momesso: "A lot of guys don't want to sign and have them say they'll take care of the transitional things later. There is not a lot of trust" (Elliott Pap, VANCOUVER SUN, 1/13). 23-year-old Bruin Bryan Smolinski: "It's too bad I can't vote for none of the above" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 1/13). MORE POST-DEAL REAX: Blues Player Rep Guy Carbonneau, assessing the deal: "Unrestricted free agency, even if it's at age 32, we still have free agency, and that's never been negotiated in any CBA in sports. It's always been won with court or legal action" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes that the players will be "candid enough to say who won. The vote to ratify could be a sign of what they're thinking" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). In Washington, Dave Fay writes there are still no "restraints to save the owners from themselves" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/13). In Toronto, William Houston's WINNERS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow, Maple Leafs Pres/GM Cliff Fletcher; LOSERS: Bruins Pres/GM Harry Sinden, the NHL's "seven dwarves, er, hawks" (Jacobs of Boston, McMullen of New Jersey, Pollin of Washington, Ilitch of Detroit, Wirtz of Chicago, Aubut of Quebec, Shenkarow of Winnipeg), Chris Chelios and Brett Hull (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/13). In Chicago, Bob Verdi writes if Blackhawks Owner Bill Wirtz "were interested only in padding his bottom line, he could have pared his organization with layoffs. He did nothing of the kind. He held a Christmas party" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/13). Harvard Law's Paul Weiler calls the rookie cap the "biggest win for the owners" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 1/13). LOOKING DOWN THE ROAD: In Montreal, Peter Hadekel writes that the deal "could be the start of a long overdue market correction in professional-sports salaries" and that it is a "good start on laying groundwork for some form of revenue-sharing" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/13). Edmonton-based columnist Cam Cole, on the "patronizing" treatment afforded small-market Canadian cities by big-market NHL owners: "We were patted on the head a lot" (SOUTHAM NEWS, 1/13). Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut, Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington and Senators Owner Rod Bryden all predicted the league would institute a "slush fund" to defray the disparity between U.S. and Canadian currency for financially-strapped Canadian franchises. Bryden: "I don't know how totally complete the protection will be, but there will be significant movement by the league in the current year to be of help to us" (CP/ OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/13). Agent Mike Gillis predicts a "new era of litigation" over arbitration and the rookie cap (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/13). ESPN'S Jimmy Roberts examined the Americanization of the NHL: The migration of stars (Messier, Gretzky) to U.S. media markets, the rewarding of 4 out of the last 5 expansion teams to U.S. warm weather sites, and the emphasis on marketing the whole-game experience for U.S. fans ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/12).