SBD/23/Franchises

THE GREAT ONE IN NEW YORK: NHL, FOX COULDN'T BE HAPPIER

     With the Canucks, Maple Leafs and Blues all bidding for his
services, Wayne Gretzky's deal with the Rangers is for two years
worth $4M a year.  But NEWSDAY's Laura Price notes with added
compensation and an MSG TV show, his intake could potentially be
$5.5M a year (NEWSDAY, 7/22).  The N.Y. POST's Larry Brooks
claims the Rangers won't just be better on the ice, they'll be a
better draw as well:  "They will be an event, here and on the
road.  But they will be a team that is very much single-minded in
its pursuit of the Cup.  Did anyone say, Oilers of the 80's?"
(N.Y. POST, 7/22).  Price notes that Gretzky's signing could also
spur former Oilers and unrestricted free agents Jari Kurri and
Kevin Lowe to return to New York (NEWSDAY, 7/22).
     LEAGUE WINS, TOO:  MSG Network/Fox analyst John Davidson:
"This is very exciting, not only for the New York Rangers, but
also for the entire National Hockey League.  What's unique about
Wayne's decision is that he chose to finish his illustrious
career with one of the original six teams."  Fox studio analyst
Dave Maloney:  "The best thing about Wayne's signing is the
attention generated towards the NHL in July" (Fox Sports).  In
Toronto, Gare Joyce writes, "For a professional sports league
seeking to increase its profile in the United States, to win the
hearts and minds of John and Joan Q. Public from Maine to Hawaii,
New York must fall in its thrall.  The Great One will surely show
up on Letterman as regularly as Regis.  He'll have a hotline to
Don Imus in the morning" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 7/23).
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