WHA will reject merger with NHL W I N N I P E G , Man. UP> — The World Hockey Association, suddenly bolstered bv the signing of superstar Bobby Hull, has no "immediate plans of trying to merge with the National Hockney League.
At this point," said WHA President Gary L Davidson, Thursday we aren't even thinking of a possible merger
"The National Hockey League is controlled by the "Big Six"-the old established teams We don't have a Big Six Each of our 12 teams is starting out on an equal footing
The WHA which will start its first season' in October, showed Tuesday it will have to be reckoned with, signing Hull away from the NHL's Chicago Black Hawks to coach and play for the Winnipeg Jets.
Harvey Wemberg, Hull's agent, clarified the 10-year contract Wednesday. The second-leading goal scorer in NHT. history receives $250,000 year for the next five years and 5100,000 a year for five years after that. With the $1 million certified check presented by the WHA Tuesday in St Paul Minn., Hull joined the WHA with a $2.75 million price tag.
Executives of the Black Hawks were expected to issue a statement on Hulls signing Thursday.
NHL President Clarence Campbell said any legal action would be handled at the club level
"When they (the Black Hawks) review the situation and consult their advisers Campbell said, "I m sure they will take the appropriate steps
"The league has no official status in thus. Basically the National Hockey League member clubs have done very well in the signing of their players.
I'm unaware if there will be more defectors—if that's what you want to call them—but I don't think this will have an appreciable effects "
Donald J. Regan, WHA general counsel, said he didn't think the NHL would have sufficient grounds for litigation.
"His playing contract was signed in Winnipeg and is governed by the laws of Manitoba," If the Black Hawks and the NHL like to sue the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg, I think they'll have a tough row to hoe."
TORONTO (Staff) - Clarence Campbell warned this reporter Wednesday that Winnipeg fans must carry a $2 million burden if they hope to keep major league hockey in their city for very long.
"And tell that man Mr. Hodskin or Heskin or whatever it is, that he better be able to attract crowds because the cost of running a team today is twice what it was before Ihe NHB expanded," Campbell said.
It was Campbell's day to air out, and the man scourged and ripped by millions of Canadians in recent weeks managed a weak smile in a post-press conference chat with The Free Press.
The business of his day was to help Alan Eagleson announce sweeping new changes—all for the players' benefit—in a gesture that Campbell described as designed to appeased the antitrust hawks in the U.S.'
W h a t remains unchanged, however, is Clause 17, the controversial reserve clause that caused the World Hockey Association to pursue and sign many of the players whose 1971-72 contracts in the NHL expire Sept. 30.
I think our contract is going to hold up against anything," said Campbell, ever mindful of the impending court battles over some of the 56 or so players who have escaped to the WHA.
However, there is a noticeable lack of confidence among players or officials involved with Team Canada that any of he abductors will be around the NHL next season.
The new-found competition for talent the competition that Campbell once welcomed obviously has impressed the NHL president who callously called the WHA "our worthy opposiion."
Surprisingly, he indicated there were a few NHL franchises who could not hope to compete dollar for dollar with some WHA clubs.
He cited Harold Ballard's Toronto Maple Leafs as one s u c h franchise. Though engrossed in a court action that could ultimately put Ballard behind bars for the 1972-73 season, the president of Maple Leaf Gardens is a one-man show which did not have the resources to compete, according to Campbell.
He also mentioned California Golden Seals. "I. don't know what they'll do for a team. It's just awful."
The teams that survived the WHA raids in the best shape were the ones operated and owned by many people, said Mr. Campbell.
"Take the Bangers, for example. Essentially, they are a community operation. They had a fierce struggle with Cleveland over some of their players, but they took the attitude that it was better to spend money now than later. The money they spent is phenomenal."
Campbell said Boston Bruins were not as fortunate. The Adams family of Boston owns the Bruins, and their lack of numbers hampered them in, their futile attempt to hold Derek Sanderson, John MacKenzie, Ron Plumb and Gerry Cheevers.
The expense of the war with the WHA is causing all sorts of problems in the NHL, and Campbell, the owners' mouthpiece, says the fight will not last as long as football or basketball.
That could only mean merger.Campbell shuddered, then stated his case why merger discussions are entirely premature.
"From the beginning, we thought the WHA had merger in mind," said Campbell. "But the cities they awarded franchises changed our thinking. "Look where they went. No, they didn't find many new cities, they went to our cities. Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Boston, Minnesota, Los Angeles all got WHA franchises."
Ironically, Campbell's counterpart in the WHA is even more deathly opposed to merging with the NHL than Campbell. G a r y Davidson, the WHA president, has frequently stated that the new league is prepared to operate independently. He says the WHA has too much to lose by merging early.
At best, Campbell expects no more than eight franchises to survive in the WHA. He wouldn't cite the teams he expects to last much longer than a season, but he did give Winnipeg, credit for having "knowledgeable hockey fans."
He also showed some latent bitterness toward Bobby Hull. He said the Black Hawks might still have their super-star but "Hull couldn't persuade Bill Wirtz to write off a debt of half a million dollars."
Meanwhile, Campbell weighed the options whether to attend Tuesday night's hockey dinner, sponsored by the Manitoba Hockey Foundation.
His enthusiasm for the event is anything but high. He would like to show up later, after the dinner is over. The thought of a hostile reception does not enthuse him, despite a special trip to Montreal by Jimmy Dunn to personally invite him to the dinner. The assurance that the dinner is a fund-raiser for the Foundation's special charities cheered him.
But the Winnipeg visit is one stop he might just as soon miss, despite the fact he does feel a wee bit glad a great Canadian city is, at last, going big league . . . with, or without, his blessing.
Strikes Down NHL Reserve Clause, Hull Able To Play PHILADELPHIA (AP) —The new plutocrats of the sporting set Bobby Hull, Derek Sanderson, John McKenzie and others who jumped from the National Hockey League to the World Hockey Association have received an official courtroom go-ahead to begin earning their riches.
A preliminary injunction issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge A. Leon Higginbotham prohibits the NHL from enforcing its controversial reserve clause, which had given it a monopoly on the professional hockey player pool. He stopped short at this time, however, from ruling the clause illegal.
The decision was a godsend for the WHA, which based its survival strategy on luring established stars for sky-high salaries. The order was set to become effective upon payment by the WHA of a $2.5 million bond.
So far, the new league has pretty much had to do without Hull, Sanderson and McKenzie. The NHL Chicago Black Hawks, who lost Hull to the 10 year, $2.75 million pact offered by the Winnipeg Jets, got a court order keeping him off the ice.
Higginbotham's decision reverses that and allows Playercoach Hull to start seeing action. The so-called "Golden Jet" was in uniform Wednesday night in the Winnipeg-Quebec game. He picked up an assist but Winnipeg lost 3-2. The other NHL expatriates have been playing while their legal status awaited the judge's ruling.
However, Sanderson—who edged Hull in the moneybags sweepstakes with a five-year, $2.6 million deal from the Philadelphia Blazers—has been out most of the season with a shoulder injury and has been ineffective in the few games he's played.
McKenzie, like Sanderson a refugee from the Boston Bruins, has been out all year with a broken arm.
Other ex-NHLers like Gerry Cheevers, J.C. Tremblay and Ted Green have been more successful with their WHA teams. The broader question stemming from Higginbotham's ruling is its possible effect on the reserve clause, the means by which baseball, football, basketball and other major American sports as well as hockey keep their teams organized.
The decision came on a test suit filed by McKenzie. He and the Blazers contended the NHL reserve clause was a violation of antitrust regulations. Higginbotham said that to extend the NHL clause was excluding the WHA and its teams from entering professional hockey, it was in violation. He added, however, that he couldn't rule on whether the entire reserve clause was illegal until further hearings were held.
"There is a clear and substantial likelihood," the judge wrote in a 124-page opinion, "that at trial, the interlocking agreements among the NHL teams, the reserve clause in the standard player's contract and the agreements between the NHL and the minor and amateur hockey organizations NHL the power of a monopoly."
Higginbotham said such a monopoly power is demonstrated by the NHL's ability to control the supply of professional, hockey players, precluding effective competition.
The judge said also that former NHL players now in the WHA would suffer irreparable harm to their careers and reputations as professional hockey players if an injunction were not granted.
The Oakland, California Golden Seals are an embarrassment to the National Hockey League; a festering sore on an otherwise rosy NHL financial complexion that bothers Clarence Campbell and his governors more than they dare admit.
According to NHL Insiders, members of the league hierarchy would dearly love to wrest the Seals away from controversial owner Charles Finley. This might have been possible had Finley's Oakland Athletics not won the World Series of baseball.
But the A's did win the series and Finley's stature, like him or 'not, grew to mountainous proportions. Now Charlie 0 is telling himself, if he could make a champion out of the A's why not the Golden Seals?
The answer, of course, is that what wins in baseball does not necessarily win in hockey. And the proof can be found in the NHL standings, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Seals are just plain awful.
Finley committed two major mistakes which have turned the Golden Seals to rust. First, he failed to allow Garry Young, his gifted young manager, to run the team as Young saw fit. Second, Charlie 0 failed to pay reasonable enough salaries to those Oakland players who eventually were lured to the World Hockey Association. Oakland lost such worthies as Garry Kurt, Norm Ferguson, Tom Webster, Bobby Sheehan, Gerry Finder, Wayne Carleton and Paul Shmyr to the new league.
"Finley didn't have to lose them," says a source close to the Seals, "but he didn't want to get into this kind of money talk that was necessary to keep players this year." As a result Seals' crowds are as bad this season as they were in 1967-68 when bigleague hockey came to Oakland. And that's terrible!
Finley has made various attempts to move the franchise but the NHL governors would never approve such a move on the grounds that it would betray a terrible league weakness. And also because TV commitments make it essential to have a team in the Bay Area of California.
The NHL itself would like nothing better than to take the Seals off Finley's hands and find a new owner, but those who know Charlie 0 realize that he's stubborn enough to hang on to his franchise until the Seals either swim into the money or sink. Most informed sources are betting on the latter.
_____________________________________________ The *World Hockey *Association's *triumph in the courts enabling Bobby Hull to play for the Winnipeg Jets was hailed by hockey fans everywhere but in the NHL inner sanctum. Now, the question is when, if ever, will- there be a merger between the two leagues? Clarence Campbell, naturally, says never. Don't believe it! The WHA has done better in its freshman season than just about any other major sports league. It has. hauled in television contracts in Canada and the United States. It has attracted colorful stars such as Hull, Derek Sanderson, Johnny McKenzie, J. C. Tremblay and Gerry Cheevers and it will attract more stars from the NHL next year.
In order too prevent a financial bloodbath for both leagues only one sensible course remains in the long run. It's spelled M-E-R-G-E-R
NHL Seeks Three Year Reserve Rule ' NEW YORK (AP) - Clarence Campbell shudders when he thinks of the mountain of paper work involved in the legal battle the National Hockey, League is waging against the rival World Hockey Association over raiding of players.
The NHL president says the league is going through "one of its most important periods in history" because of what,, he calls the vigorous litigation against the WHA.
Campbell, meanwhile, wants a new type of reserve clause written for the NHL. He reported Wednesday that the NHL board of governors spent a good part of its two days if discussions in New York going over, modifications in the present reserve clause, which is, somewhat less restrictive than baseball's."
An NHL negotiating team fill bring the modifications before the players association for further discussions Monday. Campbell wouldn't say what changes the governors discussed, or agreed to.
in the NHL, the reserve Clause binds a player to a contract for a period of three fears. The present system ends after the 1974-5 season, and a new one will have to be drafted In any case.
Campbell emphasized' that there 'must be a new system for the future, one which "hopeful works with the blessing of the courts."
Club owners are '''spending millions of dollars to find out the hard way that the old system has failed lo prevent, players from breaking their contracts and jumping to the WHA
It will be September or October before the next major court proceeding against the WHA domes up, Campbell said, and there'"Will be a lot of skirmishihg in the interim.
A mountain, of paper", already has resulted from the lawsuits, Campbell said. "I haven't looked in our lawyer office's but I would say iere is enough paper to fill up a room. I don't know how the lawyers can find anything."
The NHL governors left it up to a six-member finance committee headed by Bruce Norris chairman of the board of governors to decide on Monday weather or not Kansas City can meet the financial requirements necessary for final "approval of its franchise.
The Kansas City group headedl by Edwin Thompson made certain representations it will be asked to verify at a meeting of the finance committee Monday in Now York,' Campbell said.
The finance committee has the authority to render a final decision on the franchise, Campbell said. In other words, no money, no franchise.
Merger Rumors Fill Air As NHL And WHA Begin Their Playoffs Tonight
By HAL BOCK Associated Press Sports Writer
Playoffs get underway in both the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association tonight amidst rumors of possible merger talk that has officials of both leagues silent but at least one players' representative quite outspoken.
In the NHL quarter-finals, Boston hosts the New Rangers, Buffalo i is in Montreal, Minnesota plays at Philadelphia and St. Louis is at Chicago.
Cleveland is at home against Philadelphia in the lone WHA playoff tonight while Minnesota and Alberta clash in a single-game showdown to determine the fourth and final playoff spot in the WHA West.
While teams hustled through a final day of playoff preparation,- merger talk whipped around both leagues. The key was a reported meeting held in New York over the weekend by Bill Jennings, president of the New York Rangers, and a power on the NHL's Board of Governors, and Ben Hatskin, owner of the WHA's Winnipeg Jets.
Clarence Campbell, president of the NHL, said he was aware of the meeting but declined to comment on it because it has no official status as far as the league was concerned.
"These negotiations have no validity at all," Campbell said "These people conducted it on their own initiative...not from the league. Any comment on the subject would have to come from the people who took part in it."
But those people weren't anxious to comment. Jennings was reported out of town and unavailable to reporters. Hatskin answered questions about the meeting saying simply: "When I have any news, I'll give it to you."
One man more than happy to comment was Alan Eagleson executive director of the NHL Players Association and representative for many players in salary negotiations.
"We have already consulted an anti-trust counsel in Washington," said Eagleson at a Toronto press conference called following disclosure of the week end talks between Jennings and Hatskin. "I will be meeting with them this week in Washington.
I have conferred with some of the player representatives and they are disturbed to learn of the merger proposal." Meanwhile, the playoff teams were directing their attention to tonight's opening games. _______________________________________________
MONTREAL (DPI) - Talks on a possible merger between the National Hockey League (NHL) and Ihe World Hockey Association (WHA) have been held by team owners in both leagues, il was disclosed Tuesday.
NHL President Clarence Campbell acknowledged here he knew of the meeting in New York but said it had "no official authorizationfrom the NHL."
According to reports here and in Toronto, a meeting was held in New York Sunday on the possible merger of the two leagues. Those reportedly present were owners or representatives of four NHL teams, and at least one WHA owner, Ben Hatskin of the Winnipeg Jets.
However, Hatskin told UPI Tuesday he went to New York last weekend "to see a hockey game, I never talked to anybody (about a merger) while I was there." He said he had "no idea how those reports got started." Hatskin said he would not comment on a possible merger "because I have no idea as yet if it would be good or bad "
The Jets' trustees will meet in New York next Monday, he said, "and the matter may be brought up then."
NHL teams reported to be involved were the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens, The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In New York, a spokesman for the Rangers said club president Bill Jennings was unavailable for comment.
Alan Eagleson, Executive Director of Ihe NHL Players' Association, said Jennings had confirmed lo him that the meeting had taken place. Eagleson said Jennings was the "driving force" behind the merger talks.
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2008 4:09:20 GMT -5 by JETStender
You'll note from the sports pages that there is now talk of a merger between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association. And if you follow sports at all, you won't be surprised.
If there is any surprise at all, it is that the talk should begin so early. The WHA has only been in existence less than a year, and these things normally take four or five — at least if the professional football and basketball experiences are to be used as a guide.
The rumors should remind us again that professional sports is the most unregulated area of private enterprise in the world. Owners are virtually exempt from anti-combines regulations; players are forced to honor contracts which would be constitutionally invalid in any other area of the economy.
Some of the injustice of this was lessened when the WHA began. There was real bargaining for a player's services, and salaries and related fringe benefits soared accordingly. Now, it appears, the NHL is following the lead of the National Football League and the National Basketball Association in attempting, through a merger, to bring a return to the unjust normalcy of previous years. The name of the game is unregulated greed.
Doubt If Merger Sought Benny Hatskin hits the scales at 250 pounds, even though he's been on a diet lately. But it is not because of his avoirdupois that the owner of the Winnipeg Jets is being referred to as one of the "heavyweights" in the World Hockey Association.
Ever since he "stole" Bobby Hull away from Chicago Black Hawks and signed him to a multi-million dollar contract, Ben's stature in the world of sports has increased considerably. His name is well-known now across Canada and in many parts of the United States.
Hatskin is presently one of the key figures in what many people believe is an impending merger of the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association. But beyond admitting he talked with Bill Jennings, one of the power figures in the NHL, in New York last weekend, Hatskin has been keeping his mouth tightly shut about merger or anything else..In fact, it's got so that he's saying "no comment" in his sleep.
There seems little doubt something is in the pressure Cooker, but from where we sit it's not merger. At least not as this time. Three or four years from now, maybe. If the two leagues are going to get together on anything, It will be to eliminate a costly salary war. The WHA, if it is to flourish and prosper, just can't stand it because of its small arenas. On the other hand, the NHL, which virtually owned a license to print money, has seen its printing presses slow down to half-speed since the WHA arrived on the scene.
It would be much simpler for the NHL and WHA to get together and establish an "unwritten" player salary and signing bonus limitation agreement, than it ever would to arrive at a satisfactory merger arrangement. The latter presents far too many problems at this particular time. For example, NHL club owners would certainly not want two teams operating in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia and three in the New York area. Thus, the WHA clubs presently in those cities would either have to disband — and that could mean ,a cash settlement with their owners — or shift to some other centre. And there are not too many around With suitable arenas at the present time.
Arenas Too Small
In order to get off the ground and obtain the services of players to slaff their 12 teams, the WHA not only had to raid the National Hockey League, but they had to pay most of those signed a great deal more money than they were worth. Now, saddled with heavy and long-term contracts, the majority of clubs in the WHA can't possibly continue to throw money around as if it were going out of style when they go into (lie talent market. In most cases, the arenas in which WHA teams play, are too small to produce the revenue needed to lake care of operating expenses. According to Ben Hatskin, The Alberta Oilers will lose at least a million dollars this year. "Red Hunter and his associates had hoped to recoup some of that money next season when it was said Edmonton would have a new 10,000 seat arena. But construction hasn't even started yet and there are no signs when it will. One thing is certain, it won't be ready for 1973-74.
Even the Winnipeg Jets, who drew 230,000 people — won't break even. And Ben Hatskin frankly admits their future fate is sealed as far as Winnipeg is concerned, unless the seating capacity at the arena is increased or a new rink built.
Thus, Ben, like the other club owners in the WHA, simply can't afford to pay youngsters coming out of the amateur ranks exorbitant bonuses and salaries. The NHL is in a much better position to do so, but when team owners look at the profit sheet and see that it has shrunk considerably since the pre WHA days, it's easy to understand how Ihey might be inclined to work out some agreement with the WHA.
If it comes down to a war to retain their present talent and to sign the best of the young players coming out of the amateur ranks, it says here the older and better established NHL, with its larger arenas, is in a much sounder and stronger position to get whatever and whoever it wants.
Thus, if the WHA is to survive, it should be much more concerned with reaching a satisfactory arrangement on salary and bonus limitations than it is about a merger. And if we know Ben Hatskin it is.
Ben Hatskin packed his bags and left for New York Sunday afternoon for a meeting that could mark a s i g n i f i c a n t chapter in the future of the World Hockey Association. T h e scene is the Essex House, a popular and expensive hotel frequented by major league sports teams and their executives.
Hatskin, a 35 per cent owner of the Jets, left the team behind t o beat Minnesota Fighting Saints 5-2 and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven quarter-final series.
What happens at the New York meetings today and Tuesday could have a profound effect on hockey. Merger talks with the National League are expected to resume. Spokesmen for at least six NHL teams are said to be in New York.
Although Hatskin refuses to discuss what is happening, it has been learned on good authority that the NHL wants two WHA franchises moved to Washington and Kansas City, the newest expansion cities. New York Raiders, currently operated by the WHA, would be dissolved.
The nine remaining WHA teams would then play in one division of the NHL while the remaining 18 franchises would be split into two more divisions.
The tuition fee of WHA teams would be'$4 million.
Since last weekend's dramatic meeting between owners of four NHL teams and three WHA teams, a two-week moratorium went into effect during which the WHA agreed not to sign professionals.
H is also believed an option clause — similar to the one used by the National Football League — would be installed instead of the NHL's legally suspect reserve clause.
NEW YORK (CP) - Some form of association between the established National H o c k e y League and the fledgling World Hockey Association was discussed by WHA owners at a meeting Monday.
"The gist of the meeting was that it might make some sense for some kind of association," said WHA President Gary Davidson. But he emphasized that the legal problems, financial arrangements and compensation that would result from an association or merger between the two leagues raise many difficulties that would be hard to solve.
The 12 WHA club owners wind up their two day meeting today and Davidson said he expects there will be a negotiating committee appointed to talk officially with the NHL, which has a meeting scheduled for April 18.
The WHA president indicated that if the WHA owners agree to join the NHL, developments will follow rapidly. "Anything that would lake place, would take place rapidly," he said.
Davidson said he did not give his "blessing" to a secret meeting April 1 in New York between four NHL and Three WHA club owners during which the possibility of an association or merger was discussed.
The WHA president said, however, he was aware of the Meeting. And developments have been rapid since it was held. A b o u t 70 players jumped from the NHL to the WHA last season and an estimated 20 are expected to make the switch t h i s year, a well-informed source said.
NHL owners are particularly concerned about rising costs as a result of bidding for players. Alan Eagleson, executive director of the NHL Players Association, said last week the players group would go to court to seek an injunction preventing any merger between the rival leagues.
This action would be taken unless the players association receives "formal written assurance from the NHL owners within seven days that no merger will be discussed, much less agreed on."
Eagleson said that salaries in the NHL average about $44,000 a year, up from $31,000 last year, and it's all because of the competition. He predicted that salaries would be back on an average of 10,000 within a year if the NHL and WHA merged. Davidson called Eagleson's altitude "hypocritical." When the WHA was formed Eagleson had very little good to say about us. In fact, he made v e r y derogatory statements against the league."
Davidson said he would not divulge who was at the secret meeting April 1, but "everybody seems to know about it." Other sources said NHL owners from New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens met with the owners of the WHA's New England Whalers, Cleveland Crusaders and Winnipeg Jets.
The meeting was reported to have been called by Bill .Jennings, president of the Rangers and chairman of the board of NHL governors.
Davidson said the WHA meeting Monday also considered weather the secret meeting, may have been a ploy lo get the WHA to ease or drop the p e n d i n g anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL, or agree lo an out-of-court settlement.
The WHA has some $84 million in lawsuits against the NHL for damages on the grounds that the NHL has maintained a conspiracy to monopolize hockey and prevent any competition.
The litigations arc scheduled to start in federal court in Philadelphia Oct. 1. D a v i d s o n also said that "Toronto will very likely be in the WHA next season," indicating the Ottawa franchise will move there.
By AL COLLETTI NEW YOHK (CP) — Owners if the World Hockey Associaion killed Tuesday the idea of an association or merger with the National Hockey League, at cast for the immediate future.
At the windup of a two-day meeting, president Gary Davidson of the WHA said the fledgling 12-team league will continue to operate independently next season without expansion.
Davidson told a news conference: "Our position today is exactly what it was when we formed the league." It would be impossible for the WHA to consider any formal association with the NHL so long as the NHL retains its reserve clause binding players while the WHA does not have a reserve clause, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the WHA has decided to proceed on the course already laid out for it in .he lawsuits against the NHL hat are expected to come up in Federal Court in late September or early October. The WHA is suing tho NHL for multi-million-dollar damages, claiming that the NHL has maintained a conspiracy to monopolize hockey and prevent any competition. The WHA says this is a violation of the U.S. anti-trust laws.
Davidson said that the WHA is suing the NHL for "in excess of $50 million on all accounts,' but he would not be pinned down on a definite figure. Published reports have placed the figure at $64 million.
Davidson said on Monday that the litigation's were expected to begin in federal court in Philadelphia Oct. 1, but he said Tuesday it might be earlier. "It depends on the lawyers."
At the meetings here re-evaluated the concept of our league," Davidson said. It was decided that independence was the best thing for it pending the outcome of the lawsuits. "We are in very serious litigation and any future relationship with the NHL would have to come out of the litigation," he said.
The idea of some kind of link between the WHA and the NHL mushroomed after four NHL and three WHA owners met secretly in New York on April 1. The meeting was reported to have been called by Bill Jennings, president of New York Rangers, with owners of Montreal Canadians, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL and New England Whalers, Cleveland Crusaders and Winnipeg Jets attending.
Davidson had disclosed that on Monday's initial meeting in New York the WHA owners had discussed some kind of formal contact. "The gist of the meeting was that it might make some sense for some kind of association." Davidson said. The only association Davidson would talk about Tuesday was one on a worldwide basis with top teams from Russia, Czechoslovakia, the NHL and WHA and possibly others playing in a tournament similar to the set-up in world soccer for a world cup.
But all this Is In the future, he said. Davidson said the planned post-season series between the WHA champion and Czechoslovakia is off. The proposed series was too ambitious. Davidson also disclosed there will be no common draft with the NHL. But he said he pans to hold discussions with Canadian Amateur Hockey Association officials on the junior draft.
He said "very possibly" new buyers have been found for New York Raiders, the franchise operated by the league since last November. He said the negotiations are down to one group of New York businessmen.
Meanwhile, Nick Trbovich, principal owner of Ottawa Nationals, denied he has told the franchise to John P. Bassctt of Toronto his group for about $3 million. Trbovich laughed at the figure. "The story is not true," Trbovich, a Buffalo businessman, said. The franchise probably will be transferred to Toronto. "We are trying to negotiate a lease for next year," said Trbovich. who is "willing to takt on more Canadian investors."
MONTREAL (CP) - The Star says the widely-publicized meeting earlier this month between National Hockey League and World Hockey Association representatives was. the second secret meeting between the two groups.
In a story by sports editor Red Fisher, the newspaper says the first meeting was a week earlier. On March .24, New York Rangers president William Jennings telephoned a WHA representative and said "It's time to talk merger,", the Star says. The meeting was held the next day at Jennings' home in Connecticut, with Jennings and two WHA representatives attending.
The Star says the first meeting laid ground rules for the second meeting a week later and also included discussions about the status of individual players. Among the players mentioned were Bernie Parent, goaltender for Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA, and a player for Chicago Black Hawks of the NHL, the newspaper says.
NHL president Clarence Campbell said today the meetings had no authority and the league had "no knowledge" of them. The second meeting a week later, in New York, brought together Jennings, Winnipeg Jets owner Ben Hatskin and other officials of the two major leagues.
The Star also says the meetings have split the 16-member NHL board of governors down the middle with some owners furious at those who attended the New York meetings. The board of governors is to meet in New York Wednesday. The National Hockey League Players Association reacted to the meetings with an immediate threat to seek an injunction against any merger unless the NHL said it would not conduct any merger talks.
The association said it was sure any merger could be stopped under US anti-trust laws.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - World Hockey Association President Gary L. Davidson said Thursday informal merger talks between WHA owners and National Hockey League clubs will continue but "our league feels we don't need the NHL at this point."
Davidson told a news conference that he was not surprised by the NHL's stand Wednesday, divorcing itself from formal or informal merger talks.
"I also take the position that talks are not sanctioned," Davidson said, adding, "these informal talks will continue" despite NHL President Clarence Campbell's ban of even indirect talks.
Davidson said he was misquoted last week in New York when he was reported to have said there had been an ownership vote on a merger.
"I was quoted in New York as saying we had put an offer to a vote. There was no vote but we decided to go 'ahead independently." A merger could be "six months to 10 years away," Davidson said, noting that there would have to be congressional action first.
WHA owners, he said, would not go for merger fees and indemnities "in excess of $50 million" which have been mentioned in informal talks. The WHA "will remain in dependent, continue with our growth patterns and be very aggressive in signing players," Davidson said. A WHA spokesman said "about 10" players on NHL rosters this season already have signed with WHA teams. He could give no names.
Davidson would not say there would be an accelerated campaign of signing NHL players. "It's really between agents and clubs. It's really a question of what clubs will pay. It's out of the hands of both leagues." Meanwhile, Davidson said the WHA's two first-season franchise problems are on the verge of being settled. Ottawa be relocating to Toronto and New York with new ownership.
The New York Raiders were operated by the league since Nov. 15. Davidson did not name the businessmen buying the Raiders for what he said is more than $2 million. Davidson said the 12-team WHA will have no expansion next year and I dont expect any other moves.
HOUSTON - His title Is league administrator, which would suggest he knows what's going one. Ask him anything and he can be as cute with an answer as the most versed politician. But he's worth listening to always and never ever lacks a qualified and informed opinion.
Yes , admits Jim Browitt, there is a very definite possibility Philadelphia Blazers will be sold to Vancouver interests. No, he repeats, there is no future for the Blazers in Philadelphia. Yes, he admits, the Nationals have become permanent residents of Toronto but, no, the war between the Bassett-Eaton group and Ballard's boys to determine where the team will play is not over.
Yes, says Browitt, the New York Raiders have been sold to extremely wealthy owners whose main mission right now Is finding the perfect man to become their director of player personnel. No, he reminds, the Raiders will not become involved in lawsuits because the original owners, Sy Siegel and Diehard Wood, have been handed minor executive positions in the new group.
Yes, he admits, parity in the WHA was so successful it became a problem late in the season when playoff sites and contenders could not be decided until the last day of the season. No, he suggests, there is no problem in Edmonton because Ben Hatskin says there is no problem there, and "I believe Ben."
Browitt elaborated on the Vancouver-Philadelphia situation, and why the World Hockey Association is willing to move franchises into two of Canada's three National League cities. "Since the merger talks, our position has improved tremendously," said Browitt. "The reason we know is that many successful people have become confident that our league is worthy of investment after our first year." Where ever turmoil exists within the NHL, Browitt can produce active people eager to buy a WHA team. "In Canada, there are three perfect examples," he said. "Montreal Canadiens are on an extremely successful franchise. Nobody in Montreal is bidding for a WHA franchise. "But take Toronto and Vancouver . . . there is a great deal of disenchantment among the people. Both organizations are poorly operated as indicated by the status of their owners. Interest in the WHA is highest in those two cities."
B r o w i t t said Detroit Red Wings arc equally unstable. "The unhappiest players in the NHL play for Detroit." he said. Detroit, too, has active groups eager to obtain one of the 12 WHA franchises. If nothing h a p p e n s in the Vancouver- Philadelphia talks, Detroit may become involved , . . not to mention Miami.
The state of the union of the WHA is good, according to Bro will, and the future after a past of only 18 months "has never been brighter'. .
Last Edit: Dec 24, 2008 4:22:55 GMT -5 by JETStender
TORONTO (AP) The National Hockey League will not merge with the World Hockey Association and will battle with the new league to sign top junior players.
The NHL board of governors decided at a closed meeting yesterday they will not stand by and watch the WHA sign underage juniors; they will change their policy if necessary. In a statement following the meeting, the NHL said: "Our great interest is to preserve the structure of amateur hockey and to sip players only of eligible age. "But if the only alternative is a plan whereby our teams are given authority to negotiate with under-age juniors, then we will be prepared to follow that course."
The NHL policy in the past has been to sign players who have graduated from junior hockey at age 20. However, the WHA recently has signed a number of players with junior eligibility left. The latest signing was Dennis Sobchuk of the Kegina Pats of the Western Canada Hockey League. Sobchuk signed with the WHA's Cincinnati franchise for a reported million.
The Howe brothers, Mark and Marty, were taken from Toronto Marlboros by the Houston Aeios of the WHA despite having junior eligibility left. Then Tom Edur of the Ontario Hockey Association junior A club was signed by Cleveland of the WHA.
Post by JETStender on Dec 28, 2008 23:34:33 GMT -5
Aug 28 1973
The 'New' NHL Takes Radical Turn For '70s
NEW YORK (CP) — The National Hockey League took a landmark step Monday in its three-phase expansion program for the 1970s and, as a result, the old order of things will vanish after next season.
After eight months of preparation and negotiations, described as tedious and difficult, the NHL decided on a major realignment of its teams to deal with future expansion.
The present two-division system of Eastern and Western sections will end after the 1973-74 season and so will the playoff system based on the final four finishers in each division.
The NHL will become a 20- team league in the 1976-77 season, with the expansion involving United States cities only, and may later expand to 24 teams. It now has 16 teams and will grow to 18 in 1974-75.
NHL President Clarence Campbell called the change "a landmark step in our development of the expansion concept."
It decided that in the 1974-75 season there will be four divisions, instead of two, in an 18- team league that will include the Washington and Kansas City franchises.
The schedule will be expanded to 80 from the present 78 games and playoff pairing on points in the final standing will be put into effect in 1974-75.
The announcement of the realignment and new playoff format was made jointly by Campbell; William Jennings, president of New York Rangers and chairman of the NHL's expansion committee and Bruce Norris, president of Detroit Red Wings and chairman of the NHL's board of governors.
The 19th and 20th franchises will be granted for the 1976-77 season and will cost $6 million each, the going price for a new club. One of the franchises must go to a U.S. city in the Western Hockey League, and possibly the WHL in the end could be tapped for both franchises.
in the 1974-75 season, the NHL will be reconstructed into two divisions of four teams each and two divisions of five apiece. Two seasons later, all four divisions will have have five teams.
Under the new playoff pairing system, 12 teams—three from each division—will qualify for the playoffs, but the traditional divisional opponents will give way to points.
The NHL thus will be the first among major pro sports leagues lo base its playoff system solely on the total points earned in regular season play without regard to a team's division.
The divisional lineups under the realignment in 1974-75 will be:
D i v i s i o n I: —New York Rangers. Philadelphia Flyers, Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders.
Division II—Montreal Canadians , Detroit Red Wings. Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals.
Division III—Chicago Black Hawks, Minnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks.
Division IV—Boston Bruins. Buffalo Sabres, California Golden Seals and Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the 1976-77 season, the first and fourth divisions each will have one more expansion team. Under the new playoff system, the four divisional champions will draw a bye into the quarter-finals.
The remaining eight qualifying teams will enter the playoff first round and play a best-of-three series. The match ups of the qualifiers would be the fifth highest in final standing points vs. the 12th highest: sixth vs. eleventh; seventh vs. 10th: and eighth vs. ninth.
Thereafter, in the quarterfinals through the Stanley Cup finals, only points in the final standing will determine the match ups of the survivors and home ice advantage. All series after the first round will be best-of-seven.
Campbell reiterated that there is no possibility of merger with the rival World Hockey Association.
Monday's announcement was cited by the NHL as "the first step of Phase 3" of the league's long-range expansion program.
Phase 1 was completed with the admission of Atlanta and New York Islanders last season. The admission of Washington and Kansas City for the 1974.75 season completed Phase 2.
Norris said the first step of Phase 3 is the admission of two more new teams in 1976-77. Applications for the new franchises will be received immediately.
Since the NHL and the WHL have an agreement on future franchises, Norris said, at least one of the franchises will be granted "to a present city of the Western Hockey League, provided an application acceptable to the NHL is received."
The WHL cities include Denver , Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego and Seattle.
kenas10: Go Jets Go! Here we are 7 years later starting the Conference Finals against the Las Vegas Knights! I'm still a season ticket holder, have been since day 1. I was KennyS and was on the forum the whole time!! Blast reading all of this. Go Jets Go!
May 11, 2018 19:46:11 GMT -5