HOCKEY RELEASED! DEAL ALMOST DONE; RATIFICATION AWAITS
The NHLPA recommended that its members accept the owners'
latest contract offer. The union will now conduct a ratification
vote, and players "are expected to confirm" the six-year CBA by
noon tomorrow. NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow: "We have come to a
conclusion that both sides can live with and now we can grow
together." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "I'm thrilled, happy,
relieved, take any emotion you want on the spectrum. ... It's
important that the league and players come together" (Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). ESPN's Bob Ley: "Like Jason who, yes, wore
a goalie mask, the season could not be killed" ("SportsCenter,"
NOT A DONE DEAL? Many players were reluctant to predict
easy passage for the agreement among the union membership.
Ranger Mike Hudson: "I wouldn't be surprised if the 'No' vote
was as high as 30 percent" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 1/12).
Among the most "contentious" issue remaining is back pay (Dave
Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/12). Other questions the
players are asking: "How will their salaries be computed? Will
they be prorated against their base pay for an 84-game season or
be based on the number of days in the coming partial season. ...
Will current players' statuses be grandfathered?" (Jim Smith,
NEWSDAY, 1/12). Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick: "There's a lot of
things unanswered. It's going to come down to one or two votes,
it's going to be very tight" (ESPN, 1/11).
WHAT NEXT? For the owners, revenue sharing looms as the
next major challenge. The issue "is certain to rekindle
animosities." Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington: "I have NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman's word this will be addressed at the
next board meeting. And that's good enough for me" (Shoalts &
Milner, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). James Christie writes that
during the lockout, the "gap between the NHL's small-market and
major-market teams went from being a cleft to a rift to a chasm"
(Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). Canucks President Pat Quinn:
"It's an owners' problem, not a players' problem" (VANCOUVER SUN,