SI Vault
Edited by Richard Demak
June 08, 1992
Presidential Timber
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June 08, 1992


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Presidential Timber

In a year in which the nation will be selecting a Chief Executive, two major sports will soon be trying to fill presidential vacancies.

The NHL Board of Governors recently announced that a committee of owners would look into the process of finding a successor to league president John Ziegler and report its findings at the board's next meeting, on June 21-22. In other words, Ziegler's 15-year tenure atop the NHL is about to end. There has been growing dissatisfaction with his performance, particularly with his inability to market and promote hockey, his disappearing acts at playoff time and his condescending manner in dealing with the media. So the search is on for a successor who can revitalize the sagging league and lead it into the 21st century, and at the same time take charge of the board, as Ziegler failed to do. The fear in hockey circles is that the owners will choose another puppet—and not a visionary like the NBA's David Stern. At stake is the future of the NHL.

Meanwhile, at the Black Coaches Association convention in Atlanta last week, National League president Bill While closed the door on any possibility that he might serve another term after his current one expires on March 31, 1993. "My goal is to make sure when I leave that a black man succeeds me," White said. "He'll be able to do more than I've done. He'll be able to say more than I've said." White also burned a few bridges with a sweeping statement that sadly may have indicted many people he had no intention of impugning when he said, "I deal with people now that I know are racists and bigots."

White also revealed a distrust of the media in his comments in Atlanta. "My problem is I won't talk to the press," he said. " Frank Robinson came up and told me, 'You ought to get out there more and be more visible.'...I won't talk to the press because I won't allow them to set the agenda. I was part of the press for 18 years [as a broadcaster for the New York Yankees], and I know what their agenda is."

During his speech White claimed that he had done an "excellent" job behind the scenes. While that may be true, working backstage is not enough. White did make a salient point that because of the lack of black scouts in baseball, inner-city talent often goes undiscovered. Had he publicly lobbied for more black scouts when he first took office three years ago, White might already have made a difference in that area.

When the NHL and the National League owners decide on replacements for Ziegler and White, they might want to keep in mind that dealing with the media is not just a courtesy but a necessity if they want their sports well represented to the public. League presidents and commissioners can neither shoot nor ignore the messengers.

Southern Exposure

It really wasn't much of a surprise last week when a year-old, 150-pound black bear wandered into Paramus, N.J., 12 miles west of midtown Manhattan. In recent years, as the bear population has increased in the wooded hills of northwestern New Jersey, an occasional bruin has ventured into suburbia. What was truly a surprise last week was the urban foray taken by a year-old, 500-pound female moose. According to wildlife experts, she is the first moose to be reported seen in southern New York State since before the American Revolution.

First spotted three weeks ago trotting down a street in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., 140 miles north of New York City, the moose probably came from Vermont. What put this moose on the loose? "Most likely she was looking for new territory after she was tossed out of the social structure when her mother was about to give birth to a calf," says James W. Glidden, a biologist with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. In any event she began leading department biologists, who were anxious to tranquilize her and release her in the Adirondacks, on a wild moose chase down the Hudson Valley.

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