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Published April 9, 1998
HOCKEY: In Philadelphia, Rich Hofman writes that no NHL teams "are sprinting toward the Stanley Cup playoffs," and blames the Olympics for the quality of play: "Our heroes have returned from the great worldwide stage, for the most part, with neither medals nor legs. They have rejoined their teams ... and most of them have pretty much just limped along." He adds, "If there has been one microscopic particle of benefit from these Olympics for the NHL's paying customers, well, you really do need a microscope to see it" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/9)....The Canadian Hockey League, a 51-team junior-hockey league, set a single season attendance record of 5,712,284, up over 290,000 from last year. Western Hockey League (WHL) clubs led the way with 2,605,284 fans at 648 regular season dates, an average of 9,174 (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/8). The WHL drew a record playoff crowd of nearly 13,000 for its semi-finals at the Canadian Airlines Saddledome last night (CALGARY SUN, 4/9). OTHER LEAGUES: MLS Commissioner Doug Logan confirmed yesterday that the price for a league franchise has risen $15M since its inception in '96. He added that the league was close to a deal granting MLS Founder Alan Rothenberg operating rights to the Clash for $20M. Three years ago, franchises were awarded for $5M. Logan said MLS investors "agreed not to accept any offers for less" than the $20M that was paid by Ken Horowitz for the expansion Fusion last year (N.Y. TIMES, 4/9)....In S.F., Ira Miller questions NFL owners about Eddie DeBartolo possibly reclaiming ownership of the 49ers and writes, "[S]everal NFL owners -- while stressing they do not have all the details of DeBartolo's legal problems in Louisiana -- said they would be concerned about an NFL club owner who was also involved in casino gambling." Bills Owner Ralph Wilson: "The further away we can stay from gambling, the better. There is going to be a very big (gambling) blowup someday, and that could really hurt professional sports" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/9)....PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, on whether other Tour pros have inquired about using a cart after the Casey Martin trial: "[They] have inquired, but haven't requested" (ESPN, 4/8). ...The Ladies Pro Baseball league awarded a franchise to Homestead, FL, joining sites in Long Beach, Scottsdale, San Jose, Buffalo and Augusta, NJ (MIAMI HERALD, 4/9).