Negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA are set to resume
today, the first time the two sides have met twice in one week
since October 4-5. Reports vary widely this morning on
concessions that could be made by either side, and whether there
should be cause for optimism.
LET'S OPEN ON A POSITIVE NOTE: NHL Senior VP & Dir of
Hockey Ops Brian Burke was quoted on ESPN Radio yesterday as
saying, "I am optimistic that a deal can be worked out to save
the season" (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/10). ESPN's Jack
Edwards reports an unnamed management source told the AP that "a
lot hinges" on today's meeting, and if the "tone continues to
improve" through next week, games could be played by December 1.
Edwards did add, "Others aren't so optimistic" ("SportsCenter,"
11/9). One management source "said that if negotiators make
significant progress today, they will meet throughout the weekend
in hopes of producing an agreement next week" (Helene Elliott,
L.A. TIMES, 11/10). JUST ADD COLD WATER: According to the
CANADIAN PRESS, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow denied making any
specific proposals: "Since the league rejected our last proposal
on Oct. 10, we have not made another proposal -- not at all"
(BOSTON GLOBE, 11/10). One "ranking league official": "I was
pretty excited about things getting done, the reports I heard,
the papers I've been reading, a seven-hour meeting, ESPN saying
good things -- everything was very positive. Turns out it was a
joke. ... They were together for four hours tops, and that might
be stretching it. Nothing got done" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES,
11/10). Agent Steve Freyer: "From speaking with the people who
were involved, there certainly were no concessions specifically
made on either side" (Stephen Harris, BOSTON HERALD, 11/10).
WHOLE LOTTA SOFTENIN' GOIN' ON? In Boston, Nancy Marrapese
cites sources who say the union "has softened its stance and
could be willing to accept a deal that includes the elimination
of Group 1 free agency, a far more restrictive salary arbitration
system and a rookie salary cap. In return, the players would
want their 1994-95 salaries paid in full" -- no matter how many
games are canceled (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/10). The AP was also
reporting that the players had "softened their stance" on a
rookie cap. Burke, who suggested such a move could "jump-start"
the talks: "I wish that were the case" (CP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
11/10). In Washington, Len Hochberg reports that the league is
"softening its stance" on arbitration. According to a fax sent
to the 26 teams Monday night, "the league would agree to a
arbitration for 'a group of players in a modified form to be
negotiated'" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/10). In L.A., Helene Elliott
reports, "if pushed," the league would drop its payroll tax for a
rookie cap. "Instead of a hard salary cap, the NHL has proposed
a compensation pool that would be divided among all clubs to pay
rookies each season. Clubs that exceed their allotment, as they
might to pay an exceptional rookie, would pay a penalty.
Salaries in players' second and third seasons would follow a
predetermined formula and could be supplemented by bonuses" (L.A.
TIMES, 11/10). Steve Freyer said the NHLPA might accept a rookie
cap, but added, "Is it a deal-maker? No." Bruins President & GM
Harry Sinden concurs: "It's a very important piece, but
certainly secondary to the primary problem of tying salaries to
revenues." Sinden said it was "ridiculous" for the players to
think they might be paid for a full season (Stephen Harris,
BOSTON HERALD, 11/10).
UNITED HOCKEY LEAGUE? Edmonton-based agent Rich Winter
leads a group that is seeking to form a new league if this season
is canceled. Winter: "This may be less pie-in-the-sky than
people think." Winter said there is interest among owners of IHL
franchises "in large, modern buildings in large cities" (Joe
Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/10).
TEAM NOTES: WJR-Radio in Detroit cited a Red Wings official
who said the team was "penciled in" for a $3M loss for the '94-95
regular season (WJR, 11/9)....In Dallas-Ft. Worth, Mike Heika
writes the Stars "are skating on relatively thin ice" compared to
"established franchises." Stars President Jim Lites: "There's a
definite reality starting to overcome us. ... It's hard to get
the momentum back" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/10)....The K.C.
Blades and Minnesota Moose played an IHL game in San Jose. The
17,190-seat arena "was slightly more than half full." The game
was for the benefit of Sharks season-ticket holders, with no
tickets sold (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/10).