SBD/27/Leagues Governing Bodies

EVEN THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD GETS INTO PLAYOFF HOCKEY

          President Clinton attended Game Two of the Sabres-
     Capitals Eastern Conference finals on Monday night at the
     MCI Center, according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. 
     It marked the first time a sitting U.S. president had
     attended an NHL game.  Clinton watched from the suite of
     Capitals Owner Abe Pollin and was joined by Vice President
     Al Gore, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), HUD
     Secretary Andrew Cuomo and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. 
     Clinton spent the first period in his seat in the open-air
     suite and then spent "much of the second period" inside the
     owner's box (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26).  During the second
     intermission, Clinton was interviewed by ESPN's Brian
     Hayward.  Clinton, on the game: "Well first of all, it's
     much more exciting in person, even, than on television -- no
     offense to ESPN.  I watch hockey when you show it. ... I'm
     having the time of my life.  I love this" (NHL).  
          NUMBERS: Through the conference semifinal round, the
     league had averaged 18,216 fans per game, playing to 99.2%
     capacity, which is up slightly from last year (NHL).  On
     "The Sports Reporters," ESPN's Bob Ryan, asked if hockey is
     still a major sport: "The issue here is television ratings. 
     It's not the sport.  They have 90-X percent capacity filled
     every year [in] their arenas ... but it doesn't translate
     well to TV."  ESPN's Mike Lupica, asked if a sport is "dead"
     if it doesn't translate well to TV: "I don't think so. ...
     [W]hen you go to see this sport still ... it's a fabulous
     sport" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/24).
          CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: In N.Y., Joe Lapointe, under
     the header, "Winter Game, Spring Identity Crisis," writes
     that Bettman and company need to "realistically address a
     few critical problems" over the off-season.  Among those
     listed: "Shortening the season"; "Getting serious about rule
     changes"; "Accepting Constructive Criticism" and "Fixing the
     Fox Problem."  He writes that ratings may be down because of
     the "bizarre, low-ice camera angles"  that Fox has "actually
     increased in recent weeks.  A sport thought difficult to
     televise does not become more telegenic when directors make
     it even harder to follow" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 5/27). 
          JACOBS' LEDGER: Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs, on player
     salaries and the free agent market: "I think the market is
     way out of line because of some stupid things that have been
     done with some of these contracts. ... There are a lot of
     idiots out there, so you never know what is going to happen. 
     Look at the Rangers and their payroll -- and they didn't
     even make the playoffs."  Jacobs also cited contracts given
     out by the Canucks and Penguins and added, "Money is not
     always the answer" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/23).

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