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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he was "surprised" by comments by Wayne Gretzky suggesting the league is already going back on its commitment to enforce non-obstruction rules. Gretzky had claimed the league was "in disarray over different interpretations of the new rules." Bettman said last night "we were surprised (by Gretzky's comments). Obviously we're going to have to go back and look ... I saw the (TV) interview, it was between periods, they were losing and maybe he was a little frustrated. But I want to assure him, our fans, and all the players that we intend to stay the course" (TORONTO STAR, 10/25). DON'T GO CHANGING: Reaction to a possible league change from three periods to two halves is not a big hit with Red Wings' players. Darren McCarty: "Its awful. Hockey is three periods, with two intermissions to refuel the popcorn and soda." Steve Yzerman: "Hockey is a great game that has been played for 100 years. I don't see any reason at all to change it" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/25).
Deion Sanders' contested $35M contract with the Cowboys will now be ruled on by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, according to Ed Werder of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The NFL reportedly told Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones they "would not attempt to take the position" that Sanders can't play against Atlanta this weekend. However, "they did not say for the rest of the year." Werder reports the league has prepared a 12-page brief for Doty in which they contend Jones has spent $64M this season in signing bonuses and base salaries for players while "theoretically restricted" to a $37.1M salary cap. Werder reports the NFL "wants an expedited judgement" and the matter "could be heard this week" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/24). In Ft. Worth, Josie Karp writes the league's arguments "stretched beyond one $35 million player to focus on the way the Cowboys -- and presumably other teams -- have used signing bonuses to obtain more flexibility under the salary cap" (FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 10/24). In Washington, Dave Sell reports if the league's position is upheld and the Cowboys do not ask Sanders to renegotiate, the Cowboys "would have to rework several contracts or cut players" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/24). Jerry Jones, on the Sanders situation: "Just because we get word from the NFL, we're not going to not line up Deion Sanders on the football field. He's going to walk out there and play. And just because we get word from the NFL that we're over the cap based on those interpretations, we're not going to walk out of here and do any meaningful thing to this roster. So, they obviously aren't too sure where they stand with their interpretations since they're going all over the map here" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/24).
The inaugural Canadian Senior Open has been added to the '96 Senior PGA Tour schedule. It will be held from June 13-16 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario with a $1.1M purse (USA TODAY, 10/25)....Dorna USA has signed State Farm as an official sponsor of the WTA Tour Championships by Corel in Madison Square Garden from November 13-19. The deal includes courtside signage, and spots on ABC, Prime Network and MSG Network telecasts (Dorna USA)...The 13,101 fans at Monday's CISL playoff game between Monterrey and Sacramento at Arco Arena was the second largest in CISL playoff history (CISL)....Mike Tyson, on the state of boxing and his upcoming fight: "I don't necessarily see it in such a bad state, it's just the fact that you people have been spoiled seeing me fight and be champion for so long. ... I've been gone for four years. If I was competing and fighting constantly for four years, you guys wouldn't even consider these fights competitive, you wouldn't even come to see the fights probably" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/24).... Spurs Center David Robinson on the replacement NBA refs: "I definitely want the NBA to get the regular officials out there. It's too close to the season to have this kind of silliness going on" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/24).
MLB's new labor negotiator, Randy Levine, will oversee his first negotiating committee meeting today, according to Hal Bodley of USA TODAY. Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said today's session is "expected to set to tone for stepped-up negotiations to begin soon." Levine was appointed on September 19, but his role as MLB owners' chief negotiator began officially Monday (USA TODAY, 10/25). THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner's "media manipulation" during the World Series is criticized by Harvey Araton of the N.Y. TIMES. Although MLB requests that teams do no public business during the Series, Steinbrenner has remained in the news. Araton: "He is excellent at the art of news media manipulation and by seizing the World Series week ... he brazenly assumes lead-story status, pushes the Series into a corner in the newspapers and on the airwaves. He steals prominence from his sport." Araton, on the differences between Steinbrenner's actions and other leagues: "David Stern stands guard over the NBA product, and if Jerry Jones turned Super Bowl week into a Dallas Cowboys Nikethon, the NFL would at least have Paul Tagliabue do something about it. ... Bud Selig is probably too busy demanding a new stadium in Milwaukee to worry about conflicts of baseball's long-term interests" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25). Mario Cuomo, asked if he would want to be MLB Commissioner: "I can't imagine 28 Steinbrenner's wanting me" ("Larry King Live," CNN, 10/24).