CHELIOS APOLOGIZES; MEDIA, COLLEAGUES LET HIM OFF EASY
Blackhawk Chris Chelios called the NHL league office to
apologize for his comments that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman or
his family could be endangered should there be a lockout,
according to NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow. Goodenow: "Obviously,
it's a stressful situation for everyone involved. This is not to
condone improper behavior." Chelios' call was taken by NHL
Senior VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash, but as of last night
Chelios had not spoken to Bettman. NHL VP Commuications Arthur
Pincus: "In times like this, we understand that people say
things that they may not mean. We hope that this is the case
here" (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 9/30). Chelios did not talk to
the media on Thursday. NHLPA Media Relation Dir Steve
McAllister: "It's impossible for us to control what 600 hockey
players might say" (Terry Armour, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30). In Los
Angeles, Mike Downey writes, "Although I cannot condone such
sentiments, bilious as they are, I can almost understand young
Chelios' rage." He does add, however: "Chris has apparently
been to one too many Martin Scorcese movies" (L.A. TIMES, 9/30).
ESPN analyst Al Morganti said that "nobody likes Chris Chelios
throwing those kinds of words," but that his comments haven't
"changed the philosophy of the situation" ("SportsCenter," ESPN,
9/29). Pincus said the league has no plans to fine Chelios
(Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/30).
PLAYERS STICK BY HIM: Alan Lessels reports that comments
about Bettman in the Bruins' locker room were pointed, but that
Chelios "went a step -- or three, or four -- further." Bruin Ray
Bourque: "Chris got a little emotional there" (BOSTON GLOBE,
9/30). "Many of the Flyers, while not endorsing the length to
which Chelios went, blasted Bettman on their own." Eric Lindros:
"He deserves it" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/30).
MORE LOCKER-ROOM VENTING: NHLPA VP Marty McSorley:
"Basically, the idea is to attack the union when they feel the
union is at its weakest. I think they want to put the players in
their place, gain control and be able to reap the benefits"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/30). Gretzky said Bettman
underestimated the players' resolve: "It's a strong union" (Al
Strachan, TORONTO SUN, 9/30). Ranger Jay Wells on Bettman:
"He'll get his some day. Some punk comes in who never sweated a
day in his life trying to revamp the league" (Mark Everson, N.Y.
POST, 9/30). One NHLPA source: "Bettman's saying publicly that
he's concerned about the Canadian small markets, but it's a lie.
He told Bob (Goodenow) he didn't care about them at all" (N.Y.
POST, 9/30). Blackhawk Bernie Nicholls said he "nearly puked"
when he saw "Bettman's smiling picture" on Wednesday (Tony
Gallagher, Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/30). Maple Leaf Todd Gill said
Bettman is "taking food out of my family's mouths": "The man has
no idea about hockey. He's a businessman" (TORONTO SUN, 9/30).
Canuck Sergio Momesso: "Money is what it's all about -- nothing
else" (VANCOUVER SUN, 9/30).
HOLLYWOOD HERE WE COME: The NHLPA gave Penguin players
permission to appear in scenes from Jean-Claude Van Damme's
"Sudden Death." The players skate tomorrow in the Igloo and will
play a simulated game while Van Damme tries to save the Igloo
from terrorists (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/30).