SBD/Issue 2/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Gretzky Expects Another NHL Franchise In Ontario, Not Winnipeg

Gretzky Expects Southern
Ontario To Land NHL Team
Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky Friday said that he "expects to one day see another [NHL franchise] in southern Ontario ... but painted a more somber picture of a new team settling in the west," according to Adrian Humphreys of the NATIONAL POST. Gretzky: "I definitely one day see Hamilton or Kitchener having a [NHL] team. It is one of those things where there is so much red tape. I'm not sure it is a question of the city itself or the Toronto area or the Buffalo area trying to stake claim to the fans and the corporate sponsorships that they sort of have at this point in time." But Gretzky "did not seem to hold out the same enthusiasm for Winnipeg's chances of boasting an NHL team again." Gretzky: "I'm sure the people of Winnipeg would shell out 15-16,000 every single night -- but it has to do more with the corporate end of things and the commercial side of hockey" (NATIONAL POST, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Andrew Willis noted there are 42 public companies with HQs in Winnipeg, but "only a handful have the financial heft needed to step up for the high-end corporate boxes on which major sports teams now depend for revenue" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).

RUSSIAN REALITY: NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly indicated that Predators RW Alexander Radulov, who in July signed with Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) club Salavat Yulaev Ufa, is "having second thoughts about his move." In Edmonton, Jim Matheson cited a source as saying that Radulov "will stay one season in Ufa, then return" to the NHL. Radulov will owe the Predators a "year at his current salary for bolting but will likely get a rich new extension in Nashville" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/14). Meanwhile, in Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont reported Flames LW Marcus Nilson reportedly is "attempting to hook on with" the KHL. Nilson's agent J.P. Barry said the Flames "are being good about this." Dupont: "The NHL is arguing that Radulov has a binding deal to play with the Predators and believes the KHL must honor the player's commitment to Nashville. Well, Nilson has a binding deal to play with Calgary, but it's OK for him to go the route that the league wants to deny Radulov? Hello to the goose and the gander. ... Even if the Flames are OK with his 'defection,' it appears Nilson running off to [KHL club CSKA Moscow] would only introduce a troubling shade of gray to the process" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? Gretzky said that he does not believe the KHL "poses a threat to the NHL." Gretzky: "The bottom line is there's only one [NHL]. ... If you can't play with the best and against the best it's just not the same" (CP, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek wrote, "If all the [KHL] does is woo away the Ladislav Nagys and John Grahames and Chris Simons -- players who've run out of NHL options -- then it isn't going to pose much of a threat. If it ups the ante in years to come -- and the two leagues continue to adopt a Cold War-style of diplomacy with one another -- the competition for players could get interesting" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).

MAKING HIS MARK: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes the pension court battle between the NHL and the NHLPA will be a "watershed moment" for Kelly. It is not important that Kelly "wins the fight, only that he is willing to wage it," as by doing so, he "should satisfy a small but influential group of his members who remain suspicious of anything that smacks of a cozy relationship with the NHL." Union sources have indicated that the players are "keeping a close eye on Kelly," as they "do not want to see any sign of overt chumminess with management." However, the pension dispute "could satisfy the hardliners that Kelly is his own man, ready to go to war for the players, but at the same time not provoke a major war that might derail the gravy train for the moderates" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).

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