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NHL GOVERNORS GRANT BETTMAN A CONTRACT EXTENSION
Published December 15, 1995
The NHL Board of Governors voted yesterday to extend Gary Bettman's term as Commissioner. As part of their meetings in Palm Beach, FL, the Governors gave unanimous approval to the extension, the terms of which are to be negotiated. Board Chair Harley Hotchkiss: "There was a strong feeling among the Governors that we have exactly the right person running the National Hockey League. We wanted to make sure that Gary would be available to lead us into the next century." In a statement, Bettman noted the Board "initiated the discussion on an extension" (NHL). Bettman, in a conference call: "I love this game. I love this job. ... I'm not looking to do anything else" (THE DAILY). DETAILS TO COME: The TORONTO STAR reports the Board intends to give Bettman a five-year extension, which combined with his remaining two years would take him through February 2003. Bob McKenzie reports part of the reason was a "fear" that another league might hire Bettman away (TORONTO STAR, 12/15). Asked about potential term of the new deal, Hotchkiss noted they would want Bettman to stay through talks on a new CBA in 2000 and future TV negotiations in '98 and '99 (THE DAILY). Al Strachan notes the Exec Committee was "quick to point out that the initiative was with the governors. ... The owners rail against players who try to renegotiate, so it wouldn't look good to have their commissioner do it." Strachan cites "highly placed sources" who say Bettman's salary will be $2.5-3M (TORONTO SUN, 12/15). USA TODAY notes, "Presumably, Bettman would be looking to at least double his salary" -- presently over $1M per year (Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, 12/15). TOP ISSUES: In a conference call, Bettman outlined the issues discussed during yesterday's meetings. The Governors heard updates on the sale of the Stars and the relocation of the Jets to Phoenix, both of which are expected to gain approval at the league's January 19 meeting. There was also an update on the Panthers' situation. Bettman said while all options -- including relocation -- are being considered, their "preference" is to keep the team in South FL. Bettman: "My tolerance is lowering, my frustration level is raising." Asked to elaborate, Bettman said, "What we have in Florida is not a hockey problem. We have a building problem." Comsat's spin-off of its entertainment companies, including the Avalanche, into Ascent Entertainment, which launched a 20% IPO yesterday, was approved by the Board. On expansion, Bettman said consensus was to focus on stability of current franchises. Bettman: "Until we're comfortable that we have our house in order, there's no point in adding an addition or additions to our house. ... At some point we'll pursue it, but this is not the right time." Fox made a presentation on its plans for '96 coverage (THE DAILY). FOX'S "HERETIC": Fox Sports President David Hill's a presentation left the Governors "clearly awestruck," according to Tony Gallagher in Vancouver. Gallagher noted Hill's persistence on requesting the league go to four quarters and for other changes, including more special-event jerseys from teams (Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/15). In Ottawa, Roy MacGregor calls Hill's talk "more than a bit chilling, particularly for traditionalists" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/15). OTHER TOPICS: In Minneapolis, Jay Weiner reports that one Governor -- the Blackhawks' William Wirtz -- said the Twin Cities area "doesn't deserve a franchise" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/15). The N.Y. TIMES focuses on reports the Oilers may be the next team with financial problems that need to be addressed (Charlie Nobles, N.Y. TIMES, 12/15). The Canucks, Penguins, Mighty Ducks, Kings and Bruins will all unveil a third jersey after January 1. They debut on national TV broadcasts (CBC for the Canucks, Fox for the U.S. teams) and are "geared toward kids" (USA TODAY, 12/15).