Blues F Brett Hull, who "used to be a walking
advertisement for hockey," last night "turned into the NHL's
worst nightmare, slagging the league and the people who run
it," according to Dave Fuller of the TORONTO SUN. Hull, who
has missed 13 games with a hand injury and is scheduled to
rejoin the Blues tonight, said that he "avoided watching"
his team's games during his absence. Hull: "The games suck.
I wouldn't pay to watch them. It's boring. The whole style
of the game is terrible. There's no flow to the game at
all." Hull claimed that the "smaller, skilled players" are
getting "squeezed out of the league," adding that expansion
has "diluted the product, and now we're going to expand
again." Hull: "It's up to the fans to do something about
it. The players should stand up and be heard, too. But the
players don't say crap" (Dave Fuller, TORONTO SUN, 1/29).
WHAT ABOUT FOX? In an examination of the "tenuous"
future of the Oilers, team GM Glen Sather tells Ed Willes of
the N.Y. TIMES that he sees "the wave of the future" for the
league as TV and "mass-marketing." Sather: "We need a
national TV contract so we can compete for players with
Philadelphia and New York. That's why Nagano is so
important. ... There's going to be a lot of attention on the
game. NBC just got out of the football business. Maybe
they'll get into hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).
U.S. Sen Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bob Dole joined Casey
Martin on Capitol Hill yesterday, and the legislators, who
were both sponsors of the '90 Americans With Disabilities
Act (ADA), said that they "support" Martin's request to use
a cart at PGA and Nike Tour events and that it "fits the
intent" of their bill, according to Athelia Knight of the
WASHINGTON POST. Harkin said that rules which create
barriers for people with disabilities "must be changed," and
Dole added that he was "pleased" with this week's ruling by
an OR Federal Magistrate that the PGA Tour is a public
organization and not exempt under the ADA. Dole: "The PGA
does not mean Please Go Away. [Martin]'s here to stay."
Martin called the support of the two "overwhelming," saying
that in the golf community, he is "probably not being
received with open arms right now. But, it's nice to know
that I have friends in higher places" (WASH. POST, 1/29).
HOP ABOARD, IT'S FILLING FAST: The Martin "bandwagon is
picking up speed," according to USA TODAY's Harry Blauvelt.
Greg Norman called Martin in support yesterday. Norman told
Martin that he wouldn't be deposed by the PGA "because he
doesn't agree with them." Court TV has "petitioned" U.S.
Magistrate Thomas Coffin for "permission to show" Martin's
trial, set to begin Monday, and both the CA legislature and
the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed
resolutions "in support of" Martin (USA TODAY, 1/29).
During the second day of Latrell Sprewell's arbitration
hearing in Portland, OR, Sprewell and Warriors coach P.J.
Carlesimo "did acknowledge each other casually" and shook
hands in the first meeting since their December 1 dispute,
according to Craig Sager on the "NBA on TBS." Sager noted
that Carlesimo "is no longer the center of the focus of the
Sprewell camp" as the "focus is strictly on whether there
was a premeditated second attack" on the day in question.
Sager: "It is no longer Sprewell against Carlesimo, it is
Sprewell against the Warriors for terminating the contract
and Sprewell against the league for handing down the
suspension." Sager added that no Trail Blazers who played
under Carlesimo will be asked to testify (TBS, 1/28).
ONE-ON-ONE: Three Warriors players -- Felton Spencer,
Joe Smith and Bimbo Coles -- testified yesterday before
arbitrator John Feerick. Assistant coaches Paul Westhead
and Rod Higgins then followed the players, with Higgins
"ending the 12-hour session," according to David Steele of
the S.F. CHRONICLE. Carlesimo was scheduled to appear after
Higgins, but "he stayed from early morning until the very
end, observing the testimony of his players and coaches."
Steele reports that Coles' appearance before Feerick was the
"longest yet, lasting some four hours." While his agent,
Sean Holley, was "concerned about repercussions from the
team or the league," Coles agreed to appear. Holley: "I
don't think a lot of the guys really realized what was going
on. I think they thought they'd just have to give some kind
of statement. But this is like a trial." After his
testimony, Spencer said, "It was kind of odd because they
were both there. ... It was rather intense" (S.F. CHRONICLE,
1/29). In N.Y., Mike Wise notes that one league official,
who spoke to a player that testified, said that what the
"players believed what would be an informal interview turned
into an extremely awkward situation." NBA lawyers "read
interviews the players" gave to the league's security office
the day after the incident, and asked them to "elaborate on
their previous statements." Some accounts differed from
Carlesimo's and "the players were apparently surprised" to
have them read in his presence (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).
MORE TO COME: The hearing continues today and "possibly
Friday," then moves to New York next week, where Carlesimo
will testify (Thomas Heath, WASHINGTON POST, 1/29). But in
Chicago, Lacy Banks reports that it is not certain even if
Sprewell or Carlesimo will testify at all. Banks: "That has
become uncertain because sources confirm reports that
neither Carlesimo nor Sprewell are the primary focus of the
arbitration any longer. Rather, the NBA players union is
going after the Warriors and the NBA, claiming Sprewell's
punishments were excessive." One "insider" said NBA
Commissioner David Stern may be asked to testify about "how
and why he arrived" at his decision (SUN-TIMES, 1/29).