The NBA Board of Governors "will likely decide Tuesday to
lock the players out of the regular season if a new collective
bargaining agreement isn't reached by the first week of
November." Hawks President Stan Kasten, who is also president of
the MLB Braves: "I think what you might be seeing is the last
strike ever -- or at least for a very long time. I don't think
you're going to see any league ever again allow its players to go
into a season and build up their finances and then bring the
season down. I don't think leagues are going to allow players to
get into the position where they can effectively cancel the post-
season. I think what you'll see are lockouts" (Steve Bulpett,
BOSTON HERALD, 9/28). The NBPA is waiting for a ruling in
federal appeals court regarding the salary cap, college draft,
and the right of first refusal involving free agents. The union
seeks to reverse a lower court ruling stating the three did not
violate antitrust law. NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "We
would be happy to sit down and negotiate the issues now, but
apparently the players want to wait for the court ruling"
(Clifton Brown, N.Y. TIMES, 9/28).
UNION REAX: NBPA VP Charles Smith: "We're prepared to
continue to move on through the course of the lockout and do what
we have to do" (Fred Kerber, N.Y. POST, 9/28). NBPA Exec Dir
Charles Grantham said players would be prepared to play
alternative games in case of a lockout (Mult., 9/28).
"Barring a miracle of epic proportion," NHL Commissioner
Gary Bettman is expected to instruct owners tomorrow that he will
postpone the start of the season. Following nine hours of
negotiations between Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow,
Bettman returned to New York after offering "one more proposal"
to Goodenow on the "pivotal issue" of revenue sharing. But
Goodenow dismissed the offer as "merely another way for the NHL
to inflict the dreaded salary cap" (Bob McKenzie, TORONTO STAR,
9/28). Goodenow: "We're not at a dead end per se, but we've got
problems" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28). Bettman
was equally pessimistic: "I wish I could say we made a lot of
progress, but that hasn't been the case" (Frank Orr, TORONTO
STAR, 9/28). But Bettman "hinted" that if a lockout occurs it
will be a short one: "If we delay this by a week and then we get
an agreement, I think the fans will be well served" (Al Strachan,
TORONTO SUN, 9/28).
BETTMAN ANNOUNCEMENT: Several team execs confirm that a
conference call between Bettman and the Board of Governors has
been scheduled for 6pm tonight. "Unless there's a dramatic
development" before then, Bettman will "most certainly" tell the
owners to begin the shutdown process. The formal announcement to
postpone Saturday's opening night would come from Bettman on
Friday (TORONTO STAR, 9/28).
ROOKIE CAP: A source tells the N.Y. POST that the players
"have already offered" to yield on a entry-level salary cap that
would regulate the first three years of a player's base earnings
and signing bonus. The "source": "It isn't as though we feel it
(the rookie cap) is appropriate, but we feel it's a show of good
faith on our part to compromise on that issue." (Larry Brooks,
N.Y. POST, 9/28).
THE GREAT ONE FACES OFF: ESPN's Karl Ravetch: "The war of
words has begun to heat up, and hockey's biggest gun, Wayne
Gretzky, is among several players who are firing away at the
commissioner." Gretzky: "It seems like one person is taking the
bull by the horns and making a decision for everybody. ... For
somebody to come in here who has only been in hockey for one
year, and tell us we're not going to play, is very frustrating
and extremely disappointing. ... "I hope that it [the sport]
doesn't all come crumbling down just because one person wants to
change the format" ("SportsCenter," 9/28). NHLPA VP Kelly
Miller: "It was very clear today that a salary cap is exactly
what Gary Bettman wants" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/27).
NEW YORK-TORONTO DIALOGUE: Bettman: "Some people suggest
that New York lawyers are running the game and don't care about
it. It's not true" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/28). But in Toronto, Gary
Joyce writes: "There is no more curious scene in the world of
sports than Gary Bettman professing his undying love for the game
of hockey." Also in Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes: "That
professed love can only be a latter-day crush, at best. If he's
not a hired gun, then he's a thug in an elegantly-cut suit"
(TORONTO STAR, 9/28).
IS THAT VIPERS OR VULTURES? IHL Commissioner Robert Ulfer
said that he has spoken with Goodenow about the possibility of
NHL players joining IHL clubs if a lockout occurs. Ulfer
contended that under current labor laws NHL players could sign
temporary contracts with IHL clubs. Houston Aeros GM Steve
Patterson conceded that his club is considering signing NHL
players to a 25-game contract: "We're an independent team. We
could sign anybody." ESPN2 has talked to the IHL about picking
up several games if the NHL season is not under way next week.
The first game that would be televised would be Houston at
Denver, October 2 (Jody Goldstein, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/27).
Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher is currently playing
for the IHL's Detroit Vipers. The Rangers Ed Olczyk and the
Blackhawks Jeremy Roenik have also expressed interest in playing
for an IHL team if a lockout occurs (THE DAILY).
At the league meetings in Dallas, the Panthers and the
Jaguars received "unexpected generous news" from the NFL
management council's executive committee (CEC). The CEC will
"recommend to league owners that the expansion teams be awarded
an extra pick in all seven rounds" of the '95 draft. It was
believed the teams would be given only one additional pick in the
first two rounds combined. Owners "are expected to spend today
discussing the plan" and approval could come late this afternoon.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones: "It would surprise me if they don't
get their vote." The Panthers and Jaguars will also get seven
extra picks in the '96 draft, with none in the first two rounds.
In February '95, there will be a veteran allocation draft in
which NFL teams will expose six players, but can only lose two.
To "alleviate fears that the Panthers and Jaguars could raid the
free agent market," they must keep 30 players on their roster
from this draft, and/or $14M in salaries paid to those players
(Charles Chandler, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/28).
ALSO ON THE DOCKET: Realignment is the other top issue
before the owners. Browns Owner Art Modell: "There are five or
six scenarios being recommended. But I don't know if it will even
get off the ground. There are entrenched positions in the
league" (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 9/28). Approval of the
Redskins move to Laurel, MD is expected to pass with no
opposition (Baltimore SUN, 9/29). Team reps will also discuss
Deion Sanders' signing with the 49ers and "inquire about the
possible involvement of a third party in the deal" after reports
that Nike "might have played a role." The Saints and Falcons are
"sufficiently concerned to make it an issue." Saints Exec VP Jim
Miller raised the following scenario to show why the league
should deal with the issue: "Say next year or in future years
Barry Sanders becomes available and Proctor & Gamble all of a
sudden wanted him to be its national sponsor and play in
Cincinnati. So they tell him they will pay him $5 million a year
if he plays with the Bengals" (Clark Judge, San Jose MERCURY,
PIRATE BUSTERS: The NFL has hired Secure Signals of Reston,
VA, to check sports bars in an effort to crack down on pirating
NFL TV games (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/28).
There was a large turnout for the Southern CA stop on MLBPA
Exec Dir Don Fehr's "Solidarity Tour." 77 players, representing
23 of 28 MLB teams, attended the informational session. When the
meeting adjourned, players had "re-emphasized their allegiance to
each other and insisted that they will not be attending spring
training next season if there is no new labor agreement in
place." The Dodgers' Eric Karros: "As you come out of those
meetings, you're gung-ho. You're pretty much anti-everything"
(Lawrence Rocca, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/28).
NEW LEAGUE TALK: Fehr also met with agents yesterday,
including Dick Moss, "who has always dreamed of a new league and
hopes the players can for one by next spring." Fehr: "I don't
think a new league is an impossible as people think. I don't
think it can get done in a finger-snap, but I've always thought
it was a possibility" (Mark Whicker, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,
9/28). In New York, Bill Madden profiles Moss' dream of a
player-run league: "Come next spring such a crazy venture might
seem like a very palatable alternative to breaking ranks with the
union and being branded major-league scabs" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
STRIKE NOTE: Ontario provincial law prevents use of
replacement players in a labor dispute. Blue Jays GM Pat
Gillick: "We'll just have to play 162 road games" (Rod Beaton,
USA TODAY, 9/28).