A Beleaguered League
During the NHL meetings last week in Montreal, the 14,000 fans who turned out for the entry draft at the Forum booed as a record number of players with a serious defect—they weren't Canadian—were selected by the league's 24 teams. In all, 88 Europeans were chosen in the 11 rounds, including the first pick: Roman Hamrlik, a defenseman from Czechoslovakia who was selected by the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Forum faithful should have cheered, because in recent years NHL play has benefited from the influx of skilled Europeans who stress finesse over thuggery.
What the crowd should have booed was the NHL's bungling of both the Eric Lindros mess and the expansion draft to stock Tampa Bay and the other expansion team, the Ottawa Senators.
Last Saturday, Lindros—who was the NHL's No. 1 draft choice in 1991 and has stubbornly refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques, the team that chose him—was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers or the New York Rangers. Take your pick, which is exactly what an arbitrator was assigned to do. On Saturday morning Philadelphia and Quebec apparently shook hands on a Lindros deal that had the Flyers sending some combination of defenseman Steve Duchesne, goalie Ron Hextall, forwards Rob Brind'Amour, Mark Recchi and Mike Ricci, two first-round picks and $15 million to the Nordiques. Then, minutes later, the wealthy Rangers apparently one-upped the Flyers by offering some combination of forwards Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov and Doug Weight, defenseman James Patrick, goalies Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck and $20 million.
Philadelphia cried foul, and lame-duck NHL president John Ziegler lamely ducked the issue by dumping matters into the lap of the arbitrator, who had not made a decision as of Monday night.
The Lindros affair was the last one that president Ziegler will have to avoid. Ziegler was to have been president until August, but on Monday league general counsel Gil Stein was named interim president. Stein will assume all of the president's duties until the NHL appoints someone to the newly created position of commissioner sometime this fall.
As for the expansion draft, the NHL blew it here, too. For the $50 million apiece they shelled out in franchise fees, Tampa Bay and Ottawa had to choose from a woeful collection of rejects and retreads. "The whole thing makes me sick," said Lightning general manager Phil Esposito, who is charged with selling hockey in virgin territory. Clearly, the secret to success for both teams will be how quickly they can replace their NHL discards with, say, some talented Europeans.
In its April, May and June issues, Golf Digest ran a series of articles by contributing editor Marcia Chambers that portrayed PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman as a dictator who did not always represent the interests of the players.
Now it seems that two events on the Senior PGA Tour that are sponsored in part by Golf Digest have been, well, deemphasized. The Commemorative, a tournament in Scarborough, N.Y., that has been held in May, may be moved by the Tour to September—when its final round would have to go head-to-head on television against NFL football. The Newport (R.I.) Cup was taken off the 1993 schedule altogether.