NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND SET TO PLAY TO WORLD PARTY
The NHL announced that the '98 All-Star Game will feature a new format with the North American All-Stars playing the World All-Stars. The international game will be played on Sunday, January 18, at GM Place in Vancouver. Players from the U.S. and Canada will represent the North American team and will face the top players from the rest of the world. All-Star balloting in Canada is sponsored by McDonald's and by Russell Athletic in the U.S. The New Dodge is presenting sponsor throughout North America (NHL). In Toronto, Neil Campbell reports that the new format, reflecting the international theme of the season, "will likely be a one-year wonder." NHL Senior VP Steve Solomon: "We're looking at a one-year event" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/16). OLYMPIC EFFORT: NHL participation in the Olympics and the efforts of Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow and IIHF President Rene Fasel to gain approval for the plan, are featured by Joe Lapointe of the N.Y. TIMES under the header, "The N.H.L.'s Olympic Gamble: Stars Participation in Nagano Could Raise Sport's Profile." Lapointe: "When the Olympics arrive, the league will shut down for 17 days, an unprecedented hiatus that entails numerous calculated business risks. With the Olympic hockey games regulated to late-night [TV], with the national teams hastily thrown together, and with the fans back home without their regular N.H.L. teams to follow, the whole plan could backfire and be remembered as another slip on the ice for a sport that never seems to find as broad an audience in the United States as its big-league competition." Bettman: "We're going to get exposure like the world has never seen for hockey. This is about 120-plus of the world's elite hockey players playing for pride and playing for their countries. It will give us a tournament of high magnitude. It will be quite compelling" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/16). NOTES: In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote about "rumors that the league is attempting to apply some pressure on Disney" to sign holdout Paul Kariya of the Mighty Ducks "in order to ensure that he'll be with" the team when it opens a two-game series in Tokyo. Brooks: "[W]e discount the veracity of those reports. Disney is in the business of applying pressure, not receiving it" (N.Y. POST, 9/14). In Toronto, Damien Cox interviews Bettman on a number of league issues, including the Kariya talks. Bettman: "The league doesn't get involved in individual player-club negotiations. But as a practical matter, no particular players were promised, and the games are sold out anyway" (TORONTO STAR, 9/16).