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Volume 24 No. 155
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     The NHL and its players reached agreement on the "major items
among the 'transitional issues' that are still casting a shadow on
today's contract-ratification vote by the players," according to
today's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  While most were optimistic that the
new CBA would receive a majority vote from the 700 NHLPA members,
the issue of "grandfathering" for players formerly classed as
Group I could cause some "no" votes.  While the union was telling
agents that the players would be eligible for arbitration under
the old rules, there was no indication that the league had agreed
to that.  Several agents were promising legal action if their
clients were going to be forced to live under the new rules this
year (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/13).
     VOTE QUOTES:  Bruin Cam Neely, one of the 30-year-old players
who will have to wait longer to be a free agent, will vote no:
"If that's what we had to give up, you'd think we could have given
that in August or September" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE,
1/13).  Blackhawk Ed Belfour, another 30-year-old non-free agent:
"You can't always get what you want" (Daryl Van Schouwen, CHICAGO
SUN-TIMES, 1/13).  Panthers Player Rep John Vanbiesbrouk predicted
that doubts about the transitional issues would not affect any
votes (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 1/13).  But "rumblings" from the
Islanders indicate the vote may be closer than expected (Peter
Botte, N.Y. POST, 1/13).  Red Wings Player Rep Terry Carkner:  "We
have to remind the guys that a 'no' vote means you want the season
to end" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 1/13).  Canuck Sergio
Momesso:  "A lot of guys don't want to sign and have them say
they'll take care of the transitional things later.  There is not
a lot of trust" (Elliott Pap, VANCOUVER SUN, 1/13).  23-year-old
Bruin Bryan Smolinski:  "It's too bad I can't vote for none of the
above" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 1/13).
     MORE POST-DEAL REAX:  Blues Player Rep Guy Carbonneau,
assessing the deal:  "Unrestricted free agency, even if it's at
age 32, we still have free agency, and that's never been
negotiated in any CBA in sports.  It's always been won with court
or legal action" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13).
In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes that the players will be
"candid enough to say who won.  The vote to ratify could be a sign
of what they're thinking" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13).  In Washington,
Dave Fay writes there are still no "restraints to save the owners
from themselves" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/13).  In Toronto, William
Houston's WINNERS:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir
Bob Goodenow, Maple Leafs Pres/GM Cliff Fletcher;  LOSERS:  Bruins
Pres/GM Harry Sinden, the NHL's "seven dwarves, er, hawks" (Jacobs
of Boston, McMullen of New Jersey, Pollin of Washington, Ilitch of
Detroit, Wirtz of Chicago, Aubut of Quebec, Shenkarow of
Winnipeg), Chris Chelios and Brett Hull (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
1/13).  In Chicago, Bob Verdi writes if Blackhawks Owner Bill
Wirtz "were interested only in padding his bottom line, he could
have pared his organization with layoffs.  He did nothing of the
kind.  He held a Christmas party" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/13).
Harvard Law's Paul Weiler calls the rookie cap the "biggest win
for the owners" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 1/13).
     LOOKING DOWN THE ROAD:  In Montreal, Peter Hadekel writes
that the deal "could be the start of a long overdue market
correction in professional-sports salaries" and that it is a "good
start on laying groundwork for some form of revenue-sharing"
(MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/13).  Edmonton-based columnist Cam Cole, on
the "patronizing" treatment afforded small-market Canadian cities
by big-market NHL owners:  "We were patted on the head a lot"
(SOUTHAM NEWS, 1/13).  Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut, Oilers Owner
Peter Pocklington and Senators Owner Rod Bryden all predicted the
league would institute a "slush fund" to defray the disparity
between U.S. and Canadian currency for financially-strapped
Canadian franchises.  Bryden:  "I don't know how totally complete
the protection will be, but there will be significant movement by
the league in the current year to be of help to us" (CP/ OTTAWA
CITIZEN, 1/13).  Agent Mike Gillis predicts a "new era of
litigation" over arbitration and the rookie cap (Tony Gallagher,
Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/13).  ESPN'S Jimmy Roberts examined the
Americanization of the NHL:  The migration of stars (Messier,
Gretzky) to U.S. media markets, the rewarding of 4 out of the last
5 expansion teams to U.S. warm weather sites, and the emphasis on
marketing the whole-game experience for U.S. fans ("SportsCenter,"
ESPN, 1/12).