The NHL's Board of Governors meeting continued yesterday, with the approval of the Nordiques' move to Denver gaining the most coverage this morning: AU REVOIR, QUEBEC: In a unanimous vote, the Board approved the sale of the Nordiques to Comsat and the move to Denver for '95-96. In addition to the $75M paid to the Nordiques former owners led by Marcel Aubut, an $8M transfer fee will be paid to the league. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "It's going to be good in Denver" (Adrian Drater, DENVER POST, 6/22). Bettman said the owners didn't consider a last-minute request from a Quebec group for a 30-day delay. The to-be-named team will play in the Pacific Division. The new owners said that fans will help pick the team's nickname, colors and logo. Among the options: Black Bears, Cougars, Outlaws, Avalanche, Big Horns, Explorers, Renegades, and Wranglers (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/22). A source in the Denver business community said the public's input on the name "will delay the process," and a final name and logo for the club may not be unveiled until the third or fourth week of July (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/21). DANCING WITH THE DEVILS: Bettman said that the future of the Devils will be decided shortly. He said the Devils told the Board of Governors that no decision had yet been made by on whether or not they would remain in NJ. Devils Owner John McMullen said a decision would not be "until the finals were concluded." Bettman: "Very shortly, this is going to have to be brought to a head. I will inject myself when I think it will do some good in terms of getting a resolution one way or the other" (Jeff Legowold, Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/22). In Washington, Leonard Shapiro writes that "many hockey observers said the NHL's virtual silence shows it wants the Devils to leave the three-team New York area and head to another unchartered part of the South" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/22). According to figures released during a NJ court hearing yesterday, the Devils received $1.2M in luxury suite revenue at Brendan Byrne in '94, 64% more than the Nets' $737,115. For '95, the Devils are projected to receive $1.26M and the Nets $769,316. The disparity, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES, relfects the Devils' lease renegotiation with the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority in '91. Since then, the Devils have received 34.2% of gross suite revenues, while the Nets have received 25%, after expenses (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). LONG LIVE THE KINGS? The Board also approved, in principle, the proposed interim financing for the Kings from CO billionaire Philip Anschutz and developer Edward Roski. The financing, according to Bettman, "will be sufficient" to keep the Kings stable for "the next few months." An agreement by the team's three shareholders prevents the club's sale until January 31, 1996 -- "unless all parties agree." Bettman: "I believe there's enough positive cash flow to get them to the winter. That's the expectation" (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 6/22). League sources say that former Argonauts Owner Harry Ornest, in a group with Lakers (and former Kings) Owner Jerry Buss, had lobbied NHL owners to reject Anschutz's bid. Kings Co-Owner Joe Cohen recently rejected a bid from Ornest -- $50M and an added $50M loan guarantee (William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/22). NHL NEWS & NOTES: In Toronto, Bob McKenzie writes that "the expansion ball is finally beginning to roll." Several Governors told him the process is "already underway" and two teams are expected to be added this summer for admission in Fall '96. McKenzie also notes the Jets are "almost certain" to be in Winnipeg this season, but many believe that the long-term prospects for the NHL in Manitoba "remain bleak" (TORONTO STAR, 6/22). Flames Co-Owner Harley Hotchkiss was elected Chair of the Board of Governors. The position had been vacant since former Kings' Owner Bruce McNall resigned more than a year ago (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES, 6/22).
Leagues Governing Bodies
NBA Commissioner David Stern, in a statement: "A disgruntled lawyer [Jeffrey Kessler], whose firm was terminated by the players association, filed the NLRB petition, and Marc Fleisher, the self-proclaimed spokesman for the group, represents very few NBA players and seems interested only in ousting the union leadership that replaced his father [Larry Fleisher]" (AP/Mult., 6/22). Fleisher: "David has been a family friend for a long time, and I'm surprised he's taking the low road here. That goes to show the players' message is getting across and has the NBA seriously concerned." Fleisher, on Gourdine FedExing the proposal to each NBA player overnight: "Great. ... Which means if they aren't home, they might not see it until tomorrow, or maybe after their player reps vote. Who the hell runs a union like that?" Fleisher noted that Pooh Richardson, a player rep who had signed a decertification notice, was not included in yesterday's conference calls (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22). OTHER QUOTES OF NOTE: Jim Paxson, a former NBPA officer and now a Blazers special assistant: "One hundred guys aren't doing this on their own" (OREGONIAN, 6/22). Hakeem Olajuwon called for a truce: "Now is not the time to get greedy. We players just have to sacrifice and do what is right for the players and also the owners" (CNBC, 6/21). NBPA Exec Cmte member Tyrone Corbin: "There will be some opposition, but I think once all the player reps get together and evaluate it a final time, I think it will pass" (Ailene Voisin, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/22). Magic Player Rep Donald Royal: "I like what I heard today. I think it will pass. It's different from anything we've had in the past, but I think it's a real good deal for the players" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/22). The Heat's John Salley: "It trips me out that MJ [Michael Jordan] would sign that [decertification petition] and not think what is better for the league. ... That's not cool" (NEWSPORT, 6/21). Suns Player Rep Joe Kleine: "I think some of the criticism of Simon is unfair. If all these big-name players had showed this kind of interest earlier, we would have had a much stronger union" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22). Agent Arn Tellem said there was more to decertification than blocking the new CBA: "We have to repudiate this man [Gourdine] and stop him and let the league know he has no authority in representing the players" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). Leonard Armato, agent for Shaquille O'Neal: "I have been told that much of the strategy of the NBA is to prevent someone like Shaquille from maximizing his market potential" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney representing the dissenters: "From what we know about the deal that's been leaked out, it will be the worst deal in the history of professional team sports from the players' stadnpoint" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/22). More Kessler: "This is a rollback for the players. The happiest man in America today is David Stern. The only reason he's not happier is he sees that the rest of the players aren't going to let that happen" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). ONE AGENT-PLAYER RELATIONSHIP SOURS: Buck Williams said he was "very disappointed" in his agentm, David Falk, a leader of the decertification effort. Williams: "David has represented me for 14 years. He didn't call to tell me that he was getting involved in this. I thought it was very poor taste" (Mark Heisler, L.A. TIMES, 6/22).
"The negotiating teams for the NBA and its Players Association announced Wednesday that they have agreed on a new labor contract," according to David Moore in this morning's DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Moore continues, "Meanwhile the legal maneuvers designed to prevent the quick approval of this collective bargaining agreement intensified" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/22). Hawks President Stan Kasten, a member of the NBA's Labor Committee: "I understand we're very close. We still have to meet, discuss and vote" (Ailene Voisin, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/22). The NBA Board of Governors and the 27 player reps meet for votes tomorrow, the owners in New York and the players in Chicago. DON'T RATIFY, DECERTIFY! The announcement of a deal came hours after 17 players petitioned the NLRB to legally decertify the union as their collective bargaining agent with the NBA. Those players now need to provide the NLRB with signatures of 30% of the union's 324 members before the NBPA ratifies the new agreement. If those signatures are filed by Friday -- and, according to Mark Asher of the WASHINGTON POST, "the attorney representing the unhappy players said they will be" -- the NLRB will hold a hearing on whether a vote should be held of the entire union membership. If a vote is held, a majority would be necessary to decertify the union. Decertification would kill the present agreement and end the league's labor exemption from antitrust laws (WASHINGTON POST, 6/22). A decertification vote would be held 30-45 days after the NLRB hearing (Ronald Blum, AP/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/22). LET THE SELLING BEGIN: In L.A., Mark Heisler described the NBPA as "under an eleventh-hour siege," but reports that in conference calls among 20 of the 27 player reps, "sentiment reportedly was running in favor of ratification" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). CNN's Fred Hickman reported, after talking with NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine, President Buck Williams and VP Charles Smith, that "they feel as though they can sell this agreement to the players. That once they see it they're going to see it's a good deal and there's going to be no problem ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 6/21). In Boston, Jackie MacMullan also notes an "informal poll" of player reps indicated the deal would pass. Also, Bucks Player Rep Ed Pinckney, who had signed a decertification notice, "has changed his position" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22).