HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 75: INFORMAL TALKS ONLY
Talks between the NHL and its players' union will resume
today or tomorrow after contacts were made "at lower levels of
both bargaining committees," according to a report this morning
by the CANADIAN PRESS' Alan Adams. Sources said the talks "will
be held on an informal, though official, basis and not involve
the full bargaining committees" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14).
One source familiar with the planned "get-together" stressed that
it was "no big deal" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 12/14).
There is, however, considerable "lobbying behind the scenes" by
players, GMs, agents and league officials in search of a
settlement (Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, 12/14).
OUTLOOK: League sources indicate that, "while the
possibility for a deal without a tax system existed several weeks
ago, it no longer does." One source: "The hardliners are taking
over" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 12/14). Hockey analyst Stan
Fischler: "It's now up to the union to make a sensible offer,
they have been absurd up until this point, they simply have not
had a dose of reality. ... I'm convinced, and others have said
so, if the owners' offer were put to a secret ballot the players
would approve it, but they are being led by a guy who to me is
very unrealistic, Bob Goodenow" ("Sports View," 12/13).
OWNERS QUOTES: Whalers Owner Peter Karmanos: "If the union
really chumps us on this CBA and half the teams go out of
business -- all the Canadian teams, the L.A. Kings and two or
three that are weakly financed and front-loaded with salaries, is
that good for the union? They lose jobs." On the talks:
"Judging from the way I understand Bob Goodenow behaves in the
negotiations, I'm surprised Bobby Clarke hasn't gone over the
table and kicked Goodenow's rear end" (Jeff Jacobs, HARTFORD
COURANT, 12/14). Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut predicts a deal
will get done: "It is just a feeling. I feel comfortable in
saying that the rationale of intelligent men will save the day"
(CP/GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14).
THE "I" IS WATCHING: In Boston, Joe Gordon examines the
possible consequences of an NHL cancellation for the upstart IHL.
Agent Steve Freyer: "It wouldn't surprise me, if the NHL season
is dead, to see the IHL make a very aggressive move. The numbers
of players they could sign this year would be limited, but I
would think they might sign players now for next season." Bruins
GM Harry Sinden: "If the players want to go to the IHL and play,
they're going to have to do it for 10 percent of what they're
making now, and in our proposal we've guaranteed that the current
salary level won't drop" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14). For more on the