NHL COO John Collins and Senior VP/Events & Entertainment Don Renzulli were in L.A. last week "to talk with Kings executives about possibly staging an outdoor game in the city next year," according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. The league's "portable rink and refrigeration equipment can be set up in a warm climate," but Commissioner Gary Bettman has "rejected the idea because he prefers an atmosphere of wintry charm." Other NHL execs are "open to the idea of playing amid palm trees, believing the novelty would ignite interest for the teams, the area and grass-roots growth." Dodger Stadium is the "likely site," but the Rose Bowl and L.A. Memorial Coliseum "could figure in." The game would be played "just before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics, assuming NHL players will participate" (L.A. TIMES, 3/11). Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Kirk Penton reported NHL Jets Owner True North Sports & Entertainment is "in talks with the NHL to host an outdoor game" featuring the team in '16. There have been "rumblings about Winnipeg hosting an outdoor game" since the Thrashers moved there in '11 (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The NFL and NFLPA “seem to be closing in on a deal to implement” an HGH testing program “in advance of the 2013 season,” according to Michael Silver of YAHOO SPORTS. The two sides have “recently exchanged written proposals, and union leaders will study and discuss the NFL's latest offer when they gather” this week at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas for the NFLPA's annual meeting. It is clear that the players’ “distrust of commissioner Roger Goodell is spurring the union to drive a hard bargain.” NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith on Thursday said, “We're not going to agree to a system that doesn't give the player full due-process rights.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello on Friday said, "We fully share the union's belief in reliable, scientifically-valid testing. That is why we want to use the same test used in baseball, basketball, hockey, the Olympic games, and every other sport in which HGH testing takes place.” He added, “The union said it wanted the same appeal process used in the Major League Baseball program and we have offered to do exactly that.” But a source said that the players also “want to extend third-party arbitration to cover what is known in the drug policy as ‘other appeals’ -- offenses which do not involve positive drug tests but nonetheless subject the player to discipline.” Silver wrote, “On a positive note, most of the remaining sticking points between the league and union over HGH come down to specific language” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/8). CBSSPORTS.com’s Mike Freeman cited sources as saying that this is “the most optimistic both sides have felt in many months about an agreement on HGH testing being reached.” There remains the “distinct possibility a testing program could be in place for next season” (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/9).
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: TRUE HOOPS’ Henry Abbott cited sources as saying that the NBA is “due to start testing players” for HGH. Abbott: “Hats off to all involved for taking a step in the right direction.” The lack of an HGH test “has finally become embarrassing to the league and union.” However, the assumption has to be “that the most sophisticated athletes in all sports will quickly master this test as they have so many others.” Abbott: “I'm very glad the NBA has instituted this test, just as I'll be shocked if a lot of NBA players fail it -- and that's not because I assume they aren't using HGH” (ESPN.com, 3/8).