HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 48: GM'S VENT IN "GROUP RANT"
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
Goodenow meet again today, but based on the media breakfast held
yesterday by the league's 26 GMs, "there is little hope" the
talks will produce any movement. The 26 GMs "collectively
accused Goodenow ... of negotiating in bad faith. Or in the
words of a couple of general managers, of refusing to negotiate
at all" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/17). "What was
supposed to be a congenial meeting turned hostile when the
question of financial reporting procedures was raised" (CANADIAN
PRESS/Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/17). Oilers President & GM Glen
Sather: "I had our player rep to my house and I showed him the
information on our team and he said, 'Wow, is that real?' I
said, 'Do you think I want to go to jail? We've already got one
guy in this league going to jail and I don't want to be the
second one.'" Sather was referring to former L.A. Kings owner
Bruce McNall (Mult., 11/17). In New York, Joe LaPointe, who
calls the session an "extraordinary group rant," takes issue with
the GMs' claims that their figures are accurate as long as they
refuse to make full disclosure. NHLPA attorney John McCambridge:
"They have given us compiled revenues, but no profit and losses
statements, no expenses and no idea of which teams are making or
losing money except for the Rangers" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/17).
PANTS ON FIRE: Sather: "I don't understand how Goodenow
can say what we're saying isn't true. He's calling us all
liars." Goodenow: "Oh, please. I haven't called anyone a liar.
What I have said is that people structure their businesses
differently and we don't want to analyze the structure of 26
businesses. ... I have never raised this as a question of
honesty" (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 11/17). WHAT TO EXPECT
TODAY: Following several reports yesterday, many observers
expect NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to offer a plan that cuts
the league's proposed payroll tax from 122% to 60%. In Toronto,
Dave Fuller writes, "The longest work stoppage in NHL history
could be over today if the players accept the league's new
proposal on a luxury payroll tax." One league source:
"Everything else would fall into place if they agree to the tax"
(TORONTO SUN, 11/17). Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher will join
the Devils' Lou Lamoriello, the Bruins' Harry Sinden and the
Flyers' Bobby Clarke on the league's side of the table today.
The NHLPA will not expand its negotiating team (Larry Brooks,
N.Y. POST, 11/17). Sinden confirmed that today's talks will be
held in Boston (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/17). ARBITRATION: In Tampa,
Roy Cummings reports the league may be prepared to offer a new
system in which players become temporary free agents (30 days)
after winning an arbitration case, with the team retaining all
rights to match any offer. If the player doesn't get a better
price, he would have to return at the team's original arbitration
offer (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/17). Sinden on the union's offer to
allow two-way contracts and eliminate salary arbitration for
rookies: "I described it as giving a canoe to an Arab. In the
last 20 years, we've probably had 4,000 draftees. Not one, to my
knowledge, even went to arbitration. And I'd say 95 percent of
all the draft choices are on two-way contracts anyway" (Jeff
Jacobs, HARTFORD COURANT, 11/17).
ROOKIE RESTRICTIONS: In Toronto, Al Strachan writes that
some entry-level restrictions is the "spark that could ignite the
process." He proposes either extending a team's rights to an
unsigned rookie from two years to three or bonding a draftee to a
team until he's 22. The players might accept the first option in
return for more freedom for veteran players (TORONTO SUN, 11/17).
D-DAY? Bettman: "I'm frustrated, I'm sure the players are
frustrated. I'm not going to throw up my hands and rush off
until I have no choice and we're not at that stage yet.
Although, I think we'd all agree we're getting periously close to
that point" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 11/16).