Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/22/05 at 12:14 AM ET
Jeffrey Kessler, a labor lawyer in New York who has worked for the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. unions, called the N.H.L. deal "the largest setback for players that I've seen in collective bargaining." "The verdict is still out on whether the owners lost, too," he said. Union officials released more details of the agreement on Thursday. Ted Saskin, the senior director of the union, said it had coaxed the league into acknowledging about $100 million more in hockey-related revenue from sources including stadium-naming rights, arena concessions and local broadcast contracts. Saskin also said teams could exceed the salary cap in certain situations, such as when a player sustains a long-term injury. The next item for attention is how the N.H.L. and its players will bolster revenue and rekindle interest in the sport, which has struggled in recent seasons to attract television viewers and spectators in nontraditional hockey markets. "We need to be making a splash," said Rich Winter, the agent for Senators goalie Dominik Hasek. The league is holding its draft lottery on Friday in Ottawa to determine which team will pick first in the July 30 draft - and most likely select the top prospect Sidney Crosby. The draft will not be televised in its entirety in the United States. "Why not have it at Times Square in New York or on Madison Avenue?" Winter said. "The fact is, we have the Canadian fans," he added. "It's the Americans we need." Bettman said the N.H.L. had made "the best we could of very difficult circumstances, where there wasn't a whole lot of time to do the types of events our fans have become accustomed to."
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