HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 26: PLANS FOR PLAYERS' GAME SET
The NHLPA "isn't ready to create a league of its own. But as
the gamesmanship with the NHL over a collective bargaining
agreement, the union is planning to stage some games." The NHLPA
is expected to announce as early as today two charity events to be
played at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, on November 10 &
12. NHLPA Dir of Communications Steve McAllister: "The plan is
to use the top players in the league" (Viv Bernstein, HARTFORD
COURANT, 10/26). The games will be broadcast in Canada on CTV.
McAllister denied reports of plans for games in other cities. But
one source said, "There will be more players wanting to be a part
of it than there are spots on the team. If the stoppage drags on,
there could be many more such games in various communities with
charities benefitting considerably" (Frank Orr, TORONTO STAR,
10/26). "The union is hoping to have enough sponsors and
television exposure to make the series viable" (Mark Everson, N.Y.
POST, 10/26). NHLPA Senior Dir of Business Affairs Ted Saskin
said the planning of the games "has not detracted" from the
union's negotiating effort (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).
Copps Coliseum, which seats 17,500, hosted Canada Cup in '87 &
'91. U.S. VERSION: Boston-based agent Neil Abbott is working
on a series of 4-6 games to benefit charities in U.S. cities,
including Chicago, Detroit and possibly Buffalo. Abbott "is close
to nailing down primary sponsorship by a major American
corporation he did not wish to name." Abbott: "There are
corporate people in America who have sponsorship money to spend
and don't have hockey or baseball to spend it on. ... I was more
ambitious, but I'm probably talking about only one game now."
Games could be played at the Rosemont Horizon near Chicago or The
Palace at Auburn Hills, MI (Stephen Harris, BOSTON HERALD, 10/26).
Other possible U.S. sites: Target Center or the Met Center in MN
(N.Y. POST, 10/26).
GIVE 'EM HELL, HARRY: Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden
maintains that the "outlook is dark" for a settlement, despite the
recent talks between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec
Dir Bob Goodenow. And Sinden blames Goodenow: "There's no hope
as long as Bob Goodenow is involved. ... I don't like Goodenow
personally. I don't like his motives. His motives are to get as
much money for the players as possible, and if it has to be at the
expense of the game, so be it" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE,
FREE AGENCY: One issue sure to be discussed when NHLPA Exec
Dir Bob Goodenow meets with several agents tomorrow is that of
Group-1 free agents. "The current buzz in the hockey world is the
NHLPA will offer to drop player equalization as compensation for
Group-1 free agents (under 24, less than five pro-seasons)."
Winnipeg-based agent Don Baizley describes it as "very
significant." Under the current deal, Group-1's can select
equalization (players) or compensation (draft picks) as payment
for their team. If a Group-1 free agent selects equalization,
"the team in question loses the player. If they select
compensation, the team retains the right to match any offer. The
move, in essence, would tie young players to their club for their
first five pro seasons" (Ed Willes, WINNIPEG SUN, 10/26).
NO JACKPOT: The lockout is costing the Ontario Lottery Corp.
$3 million a week in lost Pro Line sales, according to a report in
today's TORONTO SUN. If the dispute isn't settled, the OLC stands
to lose more than $90M on regular-season NHL games (Jeff Harder,
TORONTO SUN, 10/26).
NEUTRAL SITE GAMES: Target Center head Dana Warg reports
that Bettman told him the league wanted to retain the neutral-site
games scheduled for Minnesota, Phoenix and Cleveland (Sid Hartman,
Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25). It has been widely believed
that neutral-site games would be the primary victims of a
shortened NHL schedule.