SBD/3/Leagues Governing Bodies

COULD NHL DROP ALL-STAR GAME TO KEEP WORLD CUP TOURNEY?

          While "no one" disputes the value of international
     hockey, the HOCKEY NEWS' Bob McKenzie asks, "[H]ow much is
     too much?"  McKenzie: "That is the question that will be
     asked in the months to come as the NHL and [NHLPA] formulate
     a long-term international calendar almost certain to
     culminate with NHL participation in the 2002 Winter
     Olympics."  But the "difficulty is that everything the NHL
     and NHLPA have done internationally in the last two years
     has been a raging success, but may be bordering on overkill,
     especially as it pertains to the health and welfare of the
     players."  The NHL's All-Star format pitting North America
     versus the World "was a huge success.  NHL post-event
     consumer polling revealed a virtually unheard-of approval
     rate" of 78%.  What that means is a "variety of formats will
     be considered" for future games "depending upon the time and
     locale of the game."  With the World Cup, the '96 event
     earned $14.7M, shared by the NHL and NHLPA.  While the next
     event is projected for 2000, some players "have voiced
     concerns over the demanding schedule" (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/6).
          TWO-PRONGED PLAN: McKenzie writes the "challenge" for
     NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
     Goodenow "is to find a way to address the players' concerns
     and keep alive both the World Cup and Olympics."  The league
     "is considering a two-pronged" plan: "First, in World Cup or
     Olympic years, do away with the NHL All-Star Game.  Second,
     move the World Cup from a four- or five-week fall event to a
     two-week mid-season tourney resembling the Olympic format." 
     The "impact of a mid-season World Cup shutdown would be
     minimized by doing away with the All-Star Game and its four-
     or five-day break."  While McKenzie acknowledges that All-
     Star weekend is "valuable" to the league, its TV partner and
     corporate sponsors, the league "won't lock itself into an
     All-Star Game at all if that's what it takes to make the
     international calendar go" (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/6 issue).  

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