SBD/6/Leagues Governing Bodies

HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 98: WHAT WILL THE WEEKEND HOLD?

     The NHL Board of Governors is "set to kill the players'
latest contract proposal at their emergency meeting in new York
tomorrow," according to Paul Hunter in this morning's TORONTO
STAR.  "But that doesn't necessarily mean the season will die
with it.  There is growing conjecture the owners, after
announcing unanimous rejection of the union's proposal, will
counter with a 'final' offer of their own" (TORONTO STAR, 1/6).
ESPN's Bob Ley:  "Free agency at age 30 could be the deal-
breaker" ("SportsCenter," 1/5).  In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher
writes that the "current feeling" is that the NHL will offer two
counter-proposals:  one with a tax, and one without.  On the free
agency age issue, Gallagher adds that if the players were to go
to 31, "there is a much greater likelihood of acceptance, and you
can almost write Saturday's anticipated counter-proposal on that
right now."  The owners also want a clause to reopen the five-
year deal if salaries don't go down after two years.  That should
be included in the no-tax counter-proposal (Vancouver PROVINCE,
1/6).  In Washington, Dave Fay floats other scenarios, including:
private talks today; more negotiations next week; a counter-
proposal to the union even before Saturday's vote (WASHINGTON
TIMES, 1/6).  One NHL Governor told the L.A. TIMES:  "Monday
night is the absolute deadline" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES,
1/6).
     OWNERS SURVEY:  The TORONTO SUN polled NHL owners an found
that opposition to the players' plan is running 20-6.  FOR:
Kings, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Blues, Maple Leafs.
AGAINST:  Ducks, Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Stars, Red
Wings, Oilers, Panthers, Whalers, Canadiens, Devils, Senators,
Flyers, Nordiques, Sharks, Lightning, Canucks, Capitals, Jets
(Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 1/6).
     MANAGEMENT REAX:  Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden sees
the vote as "sink or swim":  "If in a moment of brain-deadness we
do accept their offer, the season swims.  But if it's rejected,
as I believe it will be, then I think the season's over" (Kevin
Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/6).  Lightning Governor David
LeFevre:  "In fairness to the fans, we have to end the
negotiating process.  Even if that means losing the season" (ST.
PETE TIMES, 1/6).  While Devils Owner John McMullen called the
NHLPA offer a "disappointing document," Sabres Exec VP Gary
Meehan noted that they have made "significant movement" and
called it a "good framework" for further talks (Joe Lapointe,
N.Y. TIMES, 1/6).  Capitals GM David Poile:  "The present system
is better than what's on the table now" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON
POST, 1/6).  Whalers Owner Peter Karmanos:  "I'll tell you my
vote:  See you around" (Viv Bernstein, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/6).
     WHAT'S FACING THE COMMISSIONER?  At least one Governor feels
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "will avoid putting his stamp of
approval on the deal immediately, which could put his own job at
risk if it is narrowly approved.  Rather, Bettman will present
the offer in a neutral fashion, and gauge the support it has"
(David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/6).  In Toronto, Scott
Morrison writes, "The owners had best be prepared tomorrow to
assemble a palatable    counterproposal, one that offers a viable
alternative for the players.  And that is the daunting task
facing Bettman, the true test to his leadership and his ability
to make a deal" (TORONTO SUN, 1/6).  In New York, Larry Brooks
writes that the NHLPA gave Bettman a "slingshot" to fight off "an
army of Board militants."  One moderate Governor:  "I don't
understand what the players did this week.  They're daring us to
shut them down" (N.Y. POST, 1/6).
     BLIND OPTIMISM?  Two agents expressed their opinion that the
players' offer should be enough for the owners.  Don Meehan:  "I
believe those three things [changes in arbitration, $900,000
rookie cap and elimination of Group I free agency] alone will
bring about a major change in the marketplace -- what was wished
for.  And I haven't found a single general manager who disagrees"
(Jim Proudfoot, TORONTO STAR, 1/6).  Neil Abbott:  "I think it's
already done, and it'll just be a little media show (tomorrow).
The owners have already talked and they're happy as pigs in
bleep" (Stephen Harris, BOSTON HERALD, 1/6).
     REALITY BITES:  The NHLPA's marketing committee spent
yesterday "rounding up sponsors for a proposed players' league
which could start as early as February" (Dave Fuller,  TORONTO
SUN, 1/6).
Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug