HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 45: PLAYERS OFFER DRAWS A YAWN
"To the players, it was a 'significant' concession. To the
owners, it was nothing," according to Damien Cox in Saturday's
TORONTO STAR. On Thursday, the NHLPA had offered a proposal
"initially portrayed as a comprehensive scheme that would control
entry-level player salaries through a variety of methods. As it
turned out, the proposal contained concepts, but no hard
numbers." One league official told the CANADIAN PRESS the offer
was "the most insignificant concession in the history of labor
negotiations" (TORONTO STAR, 11/12). One GM: "I thought we had
a deal in the works. Now I'm convinced we won't have a season.
This thing has no teeth, no bite" (Jim Smith, N.Y. NEWSDAY,
11/12). NHLPA VP Marty McSorley, on an ownership rejection of
the players' offer: "It would mean that there is no desire
whatsoever for compromising. It's an attempt for absolute
control" (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/12).
THE LEAGUE'S OFFICIAL RESPONSE: A statement was released on
Friday by NHL Senior VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash: "The NHL
has not been offered a rookie cap. Rather, the union has made
some proposals relating to entry-level players, which are being
considered as the negotiating process continues" (WASHINGTON
WHAT ARE THEY AFTER? In Toronto, Gare Joyce writes, "The
players are willing to commit to a financial hit to get the game
going again. ... But the league sounds as if it wants not just a
quick fix but a far-reaching one to boot" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
11/12). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes Bettman and NHL
owners want a "grand slam": "The owners won't say it, but they
must relish the union's softening. Undoubtedly, they'll keep
pushing Bettman to get more, bargain for a real rookie cap and an
overall salary cap. That's why their response on Friday was only
a desire to keep talking at the table" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/13).
THIS WEEK: Sources say the NHL is preparing a counter-offer
for tomorrow or Wednesday, when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and
NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow are in Toronto for Hall of Fame
ceremonies (CP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/13).
DEADLINE TIME? This morning, Dupont reports there could be
a "significant change" in the NHLPA's strategy: the possibility
that the union "might pick a date in the near future and insist
on a contract settlement -- effectively a drop-dead date" (BOSTON
PLAYERS TALK TOURNEY: The NHLPA is considering several
"major arenas" across North America for an international
tournament this winter if the lockout continues. Arenas
mentioned: The Palace at Auburn Hills, the Rosemont Horizon, and
sites in Minnesota, Hamilton and Saskatoon. Palace/NBA Pistons
President Tom Wilson: "We'd be very interested." NHLPA execs
say the tournament could begin in late December or early January,
after Wayne Gretzky and other stars finish their planned tour of
Europe (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/13). Gretzky's agent, Mike
Barnett, has "hit a few snags" in organizing the European tour,
with available arenas (7,000 or more) the biggest problem.
Barnett expects a 5-city tour from December 1-12 (Kevin Paul
Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/13). The Hamilton tourney raised
$500,000 for Ronald McDonald Charities of Canada and $200,000 for
minor league hockey (Mult., 11/14).
QUOTE-BOARD: Montreal writer Jeff Blair on the 4-on-4
tourney: "It was no worse than your average all-star game with
better goaltending" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 11/13). Flyers GM Bobby
Clarke, a former NHLPA President: "Read Marvin Miller's book and
you'll know what Bob Goodenow is doing. ... If players start
thinking management is the enemy, then we've got big problems"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/13).