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Blues F Brett Hull, who "used to be a walking advertisement for hockey," last night "turned into the NHL's worst nightmare, slagging the league and the people who run it," according to Dave Fuller of the TORONTO SUN. Hull, who has missed 13 games with a hand injury and is scheduled to rejoin the Blues tonight, said that he "avoided watching" his team's games during his absence. Hull: "The games suck. I wouldn't pay to watch them. It's boring. The whole style of the game is terrible. There's no flow to the game at all." Hull claimed that the "smaller, skilled players" are getting "squeezed out of the league," adding that expansion has "diluted the product, and now we're going to expand again." Hull: "It's up to the fans to do something about it. The players should stand up and be heard, too. But the players don't say crap" (Dave Fuller, TORONTO SUN, 1/29). WHAT ABOUT FOX? In an examination of the "tenuous" future of the Oilers, team GM Glen Sather tells Ed Willes of the N.Y. TIMES that he sees "the wave of the future" for the league as TV and "mass-marketing." Sather: "We need a national TV contract so we can compete for players with Philadelphia and New York. That's why Nagano is so important. ... There's going to be a lot of attention on the game. NBC just got out of the football business. Maybe they'll get into hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).
U.S. Sen Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bob Dole joined Casey Martin on Capitol Hill yesterday, and the legislators, who were both sponsors of the '90 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), said that they "support" Martin's request to use a cart at PGA and Nike Tour events and that it "fits the intent" of their bill, according to Athelia Knight of the WASHINGTON POST. Harkin said that rules which create barriers for people with disabilities "must be changed," and Dole added that he was "pleased" with this week's ruling by an OR Federal Magistrate that the PGA Tour is a public organization and not exempt under the ADA. Dole: "The PGA does not mean Please Go Away. [Martin]'s here to stay." Martin called the support of the two "overwhelming," saying that in the golf community, he is "probably not being received with open arms right now. But, it's nice to know that I have friends in higher places" (WASH. POST, 1/29). HOP ABOARD, IT'S FILLING FAST: The Martin "bandwagon is picking up speed," according to USA TODAY's Harry Blauvelt. Greg Norman called Martin in support yesterday. Norman told Martin that he wouldn't be deposed by the PGA "because he doesn't agree with them." Court TV has "petitioned" U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin for "permission to show" Martin's trial, set to begin Monday, and both the CA legislature and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed resolutions "in support of" Martin (USA TODAY, 1/29).
During the second day of Latrell Sprewell's arbitration hearing in Portland, OR, Sprewell and Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo "did acknowledge each other casually" and shook hands in the first meeting since their December 1 dispute, according to Craig Sager on the "NBA on TBS." Sager noted that Carlesimo "is no longer the center of the focus of the Sprewell camp" as the "focus is strictly on whether there was a premeditated second attack" on the day in question. Sager: "It is no longer Sprewell against Carlesimo, it is Sprewell against the Warriors for terminating the contract and Sprewell against the league for handing down the suspension." Sager added that no Trail Blazers who played under Carlesimo will be asked to testify (TBS, 1/28). ONE-ON-ONE: Three Warriors players -- Felton Spencer, Joe Smith and Bimbo Coles -- testified yesterday before arbitrator John Feerick. Assistant coaches Paul Westhead and Rod Higgins then followed the players, with Higgins "ending the 12-hour session," according to David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Carlesimo was scheduled to appear after Higgins, but "he stayed from early morning until the very end, observing the testimony of his players and coaches." Steele reports that Coles' appearance before Feerick was the "longest yet, lasting some four hours." While his agent, Sean Holley, was "concerned about repercussions from the team or the league," Coles agreed to appear. Holley: "I don't think a lot of the guys really realized what was going on. I think they thought they'd just have to give some kind of statement. But this is like a trial." After his testimony, Spencer said, "It was kind of odd because they were both there. ... It was rather intense" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/29). In N.Y., Mike Wise notes that one league official, who spoke to a player that testified, said that what the "players believed what would be an informal interview turned into an extremely awkward situation." NBA lawyers "read interviews the players" gave to the league's security office the day after the incident, and asked them to "elaborate on their previous statements." Some accounts differed from Carlesimo's and "the players were apparently surprised" to have them read in his presence (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29). MORE TO COME: The hearing continues today and "possibly Friday," then moves to New York next week, where Carlesimo will testify (Thomas Heath, WASHINGTON POST, 1/29). But in Chicago, Lacy Banks reports that it is not certain even if Sprewell or Carlesimo will testify at all. Banks: "That has become uncertain because sources confirm reports that neither Carlesimo nor Sprewell are the primary focus of the arbitration any longer. Rather, the NBA players union is going after the Warriors and the NBA, claiming Sprewell's punishments were excessive." One "insider" said NBA Commissioner David Stern may be asked to testify about "how and why he arrived" at his decision (SUN-TIMES, 1/29).