The Canucks, who feel like they're "operating now under a restrictive name and logo," could consider a name change "if there was overwhelming support for a change," according to Northwest Entertainment Group's Larry Donen. Mike Beamish writes in this morning's VANCOUVER SUN that the NEG's NBA Grizzlies have "turned the sporting fashion world on its head" with their uniform designs, and the company's creative types are "always thinking." Donen says the Canucks will soon introduce a third, "special events" jersey "in the near future." Beamish writes that this jersey could be a "weaning-off process" for the team's fans before a new jersey or logo change (VANCOUVER SUN, 5/23). AFFILIATE SWITCH: The Blues are expected to announce today they are naming the AHL Worcester IceCats as their main minor- league affiliate. The Blues will drop their IHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen (USA TODAY, 5/23).
The effort by local groups to keep the Jets in Winnipeg is "not for one-year, but for long-term," according to a source close to negotiations cited by Douglas & Samyn in this morning's WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. A plan expected to be released today will call for a new 16,000-seat arena and "also add a host of new local owners to the group." The new ownership group will reportedly pay current owners Barry and Marvin Shenkarow, Randy Moffat and Harvey Secter C$32M for 42% control of the club. Provincial and local governments will continue to control 36%; the Shenkarows, Moffat and Secter will hold 22%. A news conference today is expected to announce details (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/23). REGIONAL APPEAL? When the team was seemingly headed south a few weeks ago, the Jets officially retired their name and logo following the final game of the season at Winnipeg Arena. Tim Campbell of the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS reports that nobody is certain what the team will be called next year, but "speculation is the team will be called the Manitoba Jets" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/23). BETTMAN'S HAPPY, RIGHT? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS yesterday that the effort to keep the Jets in Winnipeg is "extraordinary and heartening." Bettman denied reports that neither he nor the league wanted the team to stay. Bettman: "We haven't said it, we haven't felt it and we don't believe it. We're happy for the Jets and the fans of Winnipeg if it all works out" (Don Campbell, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/23). DON'T CRY FOR MINNESOTA: Bettman, on the Land of 10,000 Lakes: "We're delighted there was an interest in having the NHL return to Minneapolis but long-term, we can satisfy that in other ways" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/23). NORDS PUT ON HOLD: The sale of the Nordiques is on hold -- "at least for now." A Radio-Canada report last night said team President Marcel Aubut and Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau will meet today "in a last-ditch attempt to keep the franchise." Discussions will reportedly center on the government offer that Aubut rejected last week (CP/TORONTO SUN, 5/23).
John Labatt, Ltd., the owners of the Blue Jays, CFL Argonauts, and TSN, recommended that shareholders not tender their shares to LBT Acquisition Corp. (a subsidiary of Onex Corp.) before a detailed evaluation of the offer is completed. Labatt issued a statement yesterday calling the offer of C$2.3B, or C$24 a share, "unrealistically low." Labatt will release their recommendation for shareholders on May 29 (Drew Hasselback, TORONTO STAR, 5/23). Labatt President George Taylor told the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL that they hope to "spark an auction that will bring a significantly higher price for the brewing giant." Michael Palmer, an analyst at Equity Research Associates in Toronto, said C$27-28 a share "would be doing shareholders a great favor" (Susan Bourette, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/23).
A proposal that would bring L.A. a second pro football team in '98 and two Super Bowls to a new stadium at Holloywood Park "is expected to be formalized" by the NFL's finance committee today, according to Bill Plaschke in today's L.A. TIMES. If accepted, the proposal would "pave the way" for the construction of a $200M stadium "that would house the Raiders and an undetermined existing franchise." However, Plaschke writes that "one final hurdle" exists: a $20M loan requested by Hollywood Park officials, who will build the stadium along with the Raiders. The league "steadfastly" refuses to make the loan, but instead will offer Hollywood Park as much as $20M in relocation fees from the stadium's second tenant -- money that would not come until '98. Oilers Owner Bud Adams: "We realize the importance of the Los Angeles market, and we're doing everything we can to help." Plaschke notes that by doing this, the owners are apparently willing to "snub" Orange County and Anaheim Stadium -- despite a reported "letter of interest" from Disney CEO Michael Eisner to the NFL (L.A. TIMES, 5/23). In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli writes, "The league now is proposing a partnership some owners regard as tantamount to dancing with the devil." The league reportedly will offer various "financial enticements" to Raiders Owner Al Davis and Hollywood Park CFO R.D. Hubbard. Among them are $25M in revenues from luxury suites and/or permanent seat licenses, along with the promise of 10,000 tickets for Super Bowl games staged at the new facility (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/23). Davis is expected to keep the Raiders at the L.A. Coliseum for the '96 and '97 seasons. ALSO ON THE AGENDA: Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt has proposed awarding the conference championships to cities through bidding, like the Super Bowl (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23).