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According to THE SPORTING NEWS, the NHL Board of Governors decided to extend Commissioner Gary Bettman's contract in the face of "talk" that the NBA might lure him back as a potential replacement for David Stern. Larry Wigge also reports, despite talk that expansion is on the back burner, look for the NHL to add six teams by 2002. If the Panthers move to Nashville, Portland and South FL could get teams in '97-98; Atlanta and Cleveland (if they don't get the Whalers) are in line for '98-99; and Houston, Charlotte, Orlando, San Diego, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City could fight for the final two spots (TSN, 12/25 issue).... SI's "Scorecard" examines the Supreme Court's decision to hear Brown v. Pro Football Inc., the case brought by NFL taxi squad players seeking whether players can file an antitrust against the league during collective bargaining. If the Court rules for the players, SI notes unions would be able to sue leagues without decertifying -- "a right that would significantly increase [a union's] power and leverage" (SI, 12/25-1/1 issue)....In a USA TODAY Q&A, MLS Commissioner Doug Logan promises they will not abandon their salary cap, expresses hope MLS merchandise will be available in the next six weeks, and floats Long Island and Chicago as possible expansion areas (USA TODAY, 12/22)....In L.A., Shav Glick calls CART's decision to race opposite the Indy 500 "spiteful and mind- boggling" (L.A. TIMES, 12/22)....In New York, Peter Vecsey notes Patrick Ewing is still upset over the new CBA and is pushing for NBPA execs Buck Williams and Simon Gourdine to be voted out (N.Y. POST, 12/22)....MLB is said to be exploring a true "World Series" between its champ and the Japanese champion (USA TODAY, 12/22).
NFL owners "bought themselves at least one extra year of labor peace" with the extension of the CBA, according to Paul Domowitch in Philadelphia. But they were not able to get a cap on signing bonuses -- "the one thing they wanted most." NFLPA Exec Dir Doug Allen: "We were never going to agree to gutting the signing bonus rules. And even if we had been willing to, the players would never have voted for it." Allen said waiting until '99 would have led to a "strained" situation more like MLB (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/22). HBO's Gary Myers: "The reason this deal got done Tuesday night is because the owners gave up their fight for what's called 'the cap within a cap' when they were trying to put further restrictions on signing bonuses. They are going to have to rely on their own good judgment now, and also some modifications that came out of the Deion Sanders contract to restrict their own spending" ("Inside the NFL," 12/21).