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Volume 24 No. 114
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     Following five hours of negotiations between NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow in
Toronto, prospects of a resolution prior to the start of the
season "appeared dim."  Bettman and Goodenow will resume talks
today, and will probably meet in New York on Thursday to continue
the negotiations.  While Bettman contended that there is no
deadline for a deal to avoid a postponement of the season, he did
concede that an announcement will have to be made "sometime
Friday morning" so that teams will be able to coordinate travel
plans (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/27).  The Mighty
Ducks have already cancelled weekend hotel reservations in Dallas
(L.A. TIMES, 9/27).
     HOLDING THE LINE:  Bettman was not optimistic that a deal
could be struck before Saturday: "The deadline still exists.  We
will not open without an agreement" (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST,
9/27).  Bettman added: "We're not at an end point yet by any
stretch of the imagination.  We are in better shape than if I
said to you, 'Talks have broken off and I'm heading back to New
York'" (TORONTO STAR, 9/27).
     BLEAK ON BOTH SIDES:  Goodenow:  "It is very clear we have a
wide difference of opinion" (TORONTO SUN, 9/27).  Goodenow added
the union will not sacrifice its position to avoid a "lockout."
Sources close to the negotiations indicated that the season
"could be delayed for months."  One negotiator said that during
talks over the weekend "we seemed to be talking in a more serious
vein, but something seems to have broken down between now and
then" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/27).  There were reports the
players were willing to yield on a rookie salary cap in return
for retaining arbitration rights and a mild tax on payroll and
revenues (N.Y. POST, 9/27).  NHLPA VP Kelly Miller: "The next two
days will show how willing the owners are to make a deal" (Mark
Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/27).  The TORONTO STAR obtained a
September 24 letter from Goodenow to the players in which he
alleges that Bettman's negotiating tactics are designed to
"threaten, intimidate and coerce."  From the letter:  "Simply
put, the league is out to pressure you into accepting a series of
takeaways and clawbacks that would otherwise be rejected out of
hand" (TORONTO STAR, 9/27).
     POWER PLAY?  The N.Y. POST reports that Bettman and NHL
teams have "apparently broken their word" to players and are now
imposing September rollbacks retroactive to August.  Agent John
MacLean: "If the owners and league management aren't going to
bargain in good faith, then what's the point?"  MacLean said
Bettman is "damn lucky they're hockey players.  Any other group
would have walked by now" (N.Y. POST, 9/27).  NHLPA VP Ken
Baumgartner: "For us to sign an agreement with the onus on major
rollbacks, which stands today, is not in the best interest of the
players" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 9/26).  Larry Brooks predicts
the NHLPA "will split, sooner or later" (N.Y. POST, 9/27).