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Volume 24 No. 117
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          The state of the NHL is examined by Kevin Paul DuPont
     of the BOSTON GLOBE in his "On Hockey" column.  DuPont:
     "Isn't this what we wanted all along, hockey imitating the
     rest of the world, everybody talking money, really obscene
     money, players sitting out all over the place because their
     piece of the apple pie isn't oozing with more millions than
     they can spend in a lifetime?  Well, it's here, folks, and
     it's only getting worse.  By the hour."   DuPont chronicles
     Paul Kariya's holdout from the Mighty Ducks, the offseason
     contract for the Avalanches' Joe Sakic and the impending
     free agency for some of the game's top players.  DuPont:
     "Ultimately, there is only one measure of the market, and
     that's if the fans continue to pay the ticket prices that
     support these salaries" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/30).
          IN THE HUB: Using the Bruins as an example, DuPont
     notes that through four games, the team has averaged 13,635
     at the FleetCenter, a "shortfall" of capacity by 20%.  But
     "more disturbing ... is the no-show factor in the lower
     bowl."  While Boston "has had among the most fertile fan
     bases in the NHL ... those days are gone, and those empty
     seats tell us they're gone for good.  There is no chance of
     ticket prices falling.  None.  Not here.  Not anywhere.  Not
     when the likes of Kariya can't be satisfied with $7 million. 
     Not when it will take $10 million or better to bring in
     [Eric] Lindros next time.  The players fault?  Management's
     fault?  The blame game is pointless.  It's reality that
     counts, and empty seats equal reality.  When Boston is
     working with a 20 percent vacancy factor, that should send a
     clear, undeniable message to everyone in the equation --
     management, agents, and [NHLPA] -- that the guy on the
     street just can't pay it anymore" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/30).