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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 101: BLACK MONDAY?
Published January 9, 1995
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow meet today in New York in an attempt to save the season as the NHL-imposed deadline of noon Tuesday looms. The weekend was highlighted by a contentious NHL Board of Governors meeting on Saturday, at which the Governors voted 19-7 to reject the players' latest proposal. But the Board subsequently voted 20-6 to offer a counterproposal that, for the first time, did not include a luxury tax. The players rejected that offer at 4:30pm EST on Sunday by a unanimous 26-0 vote leaving both sides little time to reach a deal: THE DISPUTE: The primary areas of disagreement are: AGE OF UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENCY -- 32 or 30; DRAFT AGE -- 18 or 20; RULES FOR REOPENING -- the owners want the one-way right to revisit the CBA (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 1/9). FROM THE COMMISH: Bettman was interviewed live on ESPN on Sunday morning. Bettman to ESPN's Al Morganti: "The fact that we backed off the tax or the cap should not be construed as a sign that it was a bargaining ploy. To the contrary, there were a lot of owners who didn't like the proposal that we made, that didn't like the fact that our proposal doesn't have a tax or a cap. This was a proposal that I urged and that many of the owners reluctantly supported solely so that we could play hockey." Asked by ESPN's Robin Roberts how he would feel about being the first commissioner to cancel an entire season: "The thing that I feel comfortable with in this process is that I went to the owners and urged them to make a proposal that would address the players' key bargaining goals. ... A lot of owners were against it -- but did it at my urging so that we could play hockey" (ESPN, 1/8). Bettman to the TORONTO STAR: "The fact is, (Goodenow) has won big" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 1/9). Bettman to the L.A. TIMES: "If it wasn't good enough for the players, it just means there is no deal to be made and those (owners) who would prefer to have a salary cap or a tax, even at the cost of a season, will probably have their way" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 1/9). FROM THE NHLPA: Goodenow: "There really isn't a lot to be done. There could be some adjustments, some modifications, some things could go up some things could go down" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/8). OTHER COMMENTARY: In New York, Mark Everson writes, "The obvious trade would be a 20-year-old draft for a 30-year old free agency, or splitting the difference between 32 and 30" (N.Y. POST, 1/9). Larry Brooks credits Bettman with resisting the pressure from hard-liners to cancel the season: "There was Bettman, portrayed far and wide as the villain, who coaxed the board into another offer to give the players some more time, which Goodenow, for once, decided to take" (N.Y. POST, 1/9). In Toronto, Al Strachan writes, "It is the owners who paid the least for their franchises and/or whose teams are the worst draws in the league who are determining the course of action" (TORONTO SUN, 1/9). Gare Joyce writes, "Under the owners' proposal, freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/9). Bob McKenzie writes, "As the hogs on both sides snort, grunt and groan about the terrible hardships they're being forced to endure, they seem oblivious to the fact they're all about to be butchered" (TORONTO STAR, 1/9). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes, "The owners said they wouldn't capitulate, but they have, and now the onus is on the players just to do a little better" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9). WILL THERE BE BLOOD ON THE TRACKS? ESPN's Al Morganti said if there is no season both Bettman and Goodenow are "going to be a mess." There could "easily be a players' revolt" against Goodenow, and, as for the owners, "they are going to look at somebody and say 'Hey, what happened to our league?'" ("Sunday SportsDay" 1/8). In New York, George Vescey predicts problems for Bettman if the season is canceled: "I know who [the owners] will blame. It won't be themselves" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/8).