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Volume 24 No. 157
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     NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "indefinitely delayed the
start of the season ... calling the last proposal by the players
union 'a step backward' and questioning its good faith."  NHLPA
Exec Dir Bob Goodenow "contended that Bettman's interpretation
'just highlights our differences,' adding, 'It looks awfully
difficult for us to be making progress in the near future.  We've
always told the players that this could be a long situation.
Long could be months or a year" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES,
     FROM BETTMAN:  "Until the union is willing to address our
needs, and come back to us with a system that is sensible and
allows us to grow, there seems to be little common ground" (THE
     FROM GOODENOW:  "Until the owners appreciate that the
players are completely opposed to the NHL's take-away demands, we
will have little to discuss" (THE DAILY).
     WHAT NOW?  In Tampa, Roy Cummings writes that neither side
has made its best offer.  One league source "admitted as much
Tuesday when he said the NHL eventually could drop its 122
percent tax proposal to around 50 percent" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
10/12).  But NHLPA President Mike Gartner says:  "We've got
nothing more to bring to the table" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN,
10/12).  Bettman:  "Mike Gartner said to me yesterday that he
knows their last offer didn't address our needs.  There still a
way to go in this process" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/11).
ESPN's Al Morganti: "Not only was there unanimity in that board
meeting today, but I talked to several owners who are convinced
the NHL has already gone too far in what they offered the
players" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/11).  That leaves open the
possibility the league "could withdraw the proposal or alter it
in a direction away from the union's proposal" (Murray Chass,
N.Y. TIMES, 10/12).  TORONTO SUN's Al Strachan raises the idea
that limits on arbitration and a rookie salary cap may be the
owners' "hidden agenda," an idea echoed by Toronto GLOBE & MAIL's
David Shoalts.
     EYES ON THE "I":  Goodenow said the IHL and other leagues
"may very well be an option" for players locked-out of the NHL.
"And we will now look at those issues as they arise."  Bettman
addressed the notion of players jumping leagues:  "If players are
prepared to play for $1,000 a game in the IHL and risk their
careers in injury, I'm not sure why they don't want to come to
play in the NHL under a system that makes sense and treats them
fairly" (THE DAILY).  IHL Chicago Wolves President & GM Grant
Mulvey:  "I don't know what they're doing and I don't think as of
right now they even know what they're going to do."  Mulvey held
open the option of signing some NHLers (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/12).
     OTHER MINOR ALTERNATIVES:  AHL President of Hockey
Operations Gordie Anziano noted the AHL is a developmental league
for the NHL:  "So if players under contracts to NHL teams wanted
to come sign a contract with an AHL club, I don't think that we'd
do that" (ST. PETE TIMES, 10/12).
     TV REAX:  ESPN's Jimmy Roberts: "The national pastime of a
North American country's national sport grinds to a halt.  Sound
familiar?" ("SportsCenter," 10/11).  CNN's Mark Morgan compared
hockey to baseball: "No common ground, no talks are scheduled,
and -- unfortunately for hockey fans across North America -- the
end appears to be no where in sight" ("Sports Tonight," 10/11).
ESPN's Al Morganti: "Very seriously, we're looking at if not a
40-game season, no season" ("SportsCenter," 10/11).