SBD/1/Leagues Governing Bodies

NHL ON ICE: ANALYSTS SAY LEAGUE COULD FACE WATERSHED YEAR

          The NHL's 81st season gets underway tonight with ten
     games on the schedule.  In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes
     that the NHL season "brings both great opportunity and great
     danger for the business of the game."   The "upside" is the
     Olympic participation where a Canada-U.S. final, "even if it
     is played live at dawn, could be the most significant game
     in the history of the sport.  Hockey would really matter, at
     least for the moment, outside of traditional hockey hotbeds,
     and a lot of eyes would surely be opened to the sport's
     possibilities."  But the "danger" for the upcoming season
     lies in NC, where the Hurricanes "are in for a terrible
     struggle to find a berth in the public imagination."  Brunt:
     "Hockey is going through a period of hyper-inflation. 
     Salaries are going up, but franchise values are going up
     faster.  The league is about to embark on an ambitious
     expansion that includes one sure thing (Atlanta, irony of
     ironies) and a bunch of maybes.  A little setback down
     south, and the foundations of the pyramid suddenly get a
     little shaky" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/1).  In Calgary, Mark Miller
     writes the NHL is "heading into one of its most crucial
     seasons" and adds, with the Olympics, the game "will finally
     achieve the profile it's aspired to for so long in the U.S."
     (EDMONTON SUN/CALGARY SUN, 10/1).
          MONEY, IT'S A FACT: In N.Y., Joe Lapointe previews the
     season, noting that "some of the sport's biggest stars are
     unlikely to be in uniform" for the opener.  Currently, up to
     eight restricted Group 2 free agents, including Mighty Duck
     Paul Kariya and Red Wing Sergei Fedorov, are unsigned (N.Y.
     TIMES, 10/1).  On ESPN SportsZone, Al Morganti writes "with
     so many high-profile players still not signed," there are
     "some very loud suggestions from across NHL management
     offices that part of the problem" is the NHLPA.  NHLPA Exec
     Dir Bob Goodenow said while the union does act as a "sort of
     clearinghouse" for information, "I don't and we don't work
     as a player's agent in the negotiations" (SportsZone, 10/1).
     
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