SBD/30/Franchises

DEVILS EXECS MEET WITH NJ OFFICIALS; NASHVILLE REACTS

     Devils Owner John McMullen and President Lou Lamoriello met
with NJSEA officials and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday
in a "heavily guarded meeting" at McMullen's Secaucus, NJ office,
according to this morning's Bergen RECORD.  After emerging from
the meetings, both sides said they would meet again, but had
little else to say (Fitzgerald, Hirsch & Dottino, Bergen RECORD,
6/30).
     WANTED: A TEAM -- ANY TEAM:  Gaylord Entertainment President
Dick Evans, who is heading Nashville's push to land an NHL
franchise, said yesterday "a Devils move to Tennessee in time for
next season looks unlikely because the team is tied up in court,"
according to this morning's RECORD.  Evans, in his first news
conference before national press, said the possibility of a
lawsuit made things "unpredictable."  The RECORD reports that
Evans said "the intense publicity about Nashville's courtship of
the Devils could position the city to win an NHL expansion
franchise in 1997" (Bergen RECORD, 6/30).  Evans said that
Gaylord may not want full ownership of an NHL team:  "Clearly, we
are going to have to take the lead.  But do we want to own 100
percent of it?  Not necessarily" (TENNESSEAN, 6/30).
     A HOLE IN THE CASE?  The Devils, who claim their lease
extension was violated by actions taken by the NJSEA during the
lockout, reportedly met with Target Center GM Dana Warg in
October '93, according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST.  Brooks
reports that Warg was invited to the Meadowlands for a meeting
shortly after the North Stars left for Dallas.  But "once
informed the team had an enforceable lease through 2002," Warg
ended talks with the Devils (N.Y. POST, 6/30).
     SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY?  Evans expressed "bitterness toward
New Jersey" during his press conference, and had the the
following exchange with a RECORD reporter: "Why don't you go back
to New Jersey?  I'm tired of the Grand Ole Opry taking all these
shots. ... Why the hell would anyone ever want to go to New
Jersey?  It's a hellhole.  I lived in New York for 10 years and I
fought to keep from going through the tunnel to that hellhole"
(Bergen RECORD, 6/30).  For more on the NHL's appeal in
Nashville,.
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