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NHL'S EUROPEAN VACATION? EXPANSION IDEAS GET MIXED REVIEWS
Published May 31, 1995
A discussion paper by the NHL regarding European expansion, obtained by the CANADIAN PRESS, recommends the NHL and IIHF "establish an elite-league structure which would be on par with the top domestic leagues in Sweden, Finland, and Russia and would play interlocking games with already established top-level leagues." A second league, more of an expansion model, would feature a lower standard of competition and operate "in non- traditional hockey markets," such as Barcelona, Dortmund, London, Milan, Munich and Paris. The CP reports that some overseas partners "in the proposed venture are worried about the shoe- string approach under consideration." They feel the NHL's proposed salary structure "won't attract quality players and could wind up doing more harm than good in promoting the sport." The more advanced league would have a $48,000 salary cap, while expansion players would work under a $15,000 cap. Rickard Fagerlund, Chair of the IIHF-NHL working committee, said he was "not impressed with the plans and I have told them I'm not." Another European official: "With that kind of salary, what kind of player will you have? ... We have to bring to the big cites a good product." NHL VP Steve Solomon, the league's negotiator on European expansion, said the proposal "continues to be molded and modified ... I would call it a development approach." A tentative start date is September '96 (Alan Adams, CP/TORONTO STAR, 5/31). THE TURNER HIGH JUMP? In Toronto, George Gross examines Ted Turner's pursuit of an NHL team and indentifies two potential obstacles: Turner would have to build a new arena; and, financially, he would have to purchase "an existing, even floundering franchise. The NHL would not entertain an expansion team for Atlanta. The league's next two spots are reserved" (TORONTO SUN, 5/31). NEWS & NOTES: In Denver, Rick Morrissey of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS examines how the NHL has targeted the in-line skating boom to drum up interest in hockey. NHL VP of Corporate Communications Bernadette Mansur: "We've had market research that shows that 80% of the people watch the game for the action and the speed and skills. Less than 10% say it is for the fights." Morrissey writes that the NHL "has to find a way to close the gap between the excitement of a live hockey game and the difficulty of following it on TV" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/30)....Roller Hockey Int'l is profiled in today's N.Y. POST under the headline: "Roller Hockey Scoring Big with Young Fans in Third Season." by (Gersh Kuntzman, N.Y. POST, 5/31).