Meanwhile, another group of retired players has won a series of preliminary rulings against the NHL in a lawsuit brought in Camden, N.J., over the same $25 million under U.S. pension laws, which are tougher than those in Canada. This is what's known in hockey as a power play, and if the league doesn't move quickly to settle with its former players, it may find itself buried so deep in the penury box it'll never get out.
The NHL could also find itself in another kind of bind. That's because a federal grand jury in Boston is looking into the pension-fund machinations and has subpoenaed more than 20 years' worth of NHL records. If the owners make peace, prosecutors may be less inclined to push for indictments.
Bill Clinton's aides proudly refer to themselves as wonks—a newly prominent term for the sort of issue-obsessed grinds who insist on crunching budgetary analyses on their laptops next to you on the airplane while you're trying to watch Sister Act. Drawing a bead on the breed, The Washington Post quoted one Clintonite as saying that wonks are like nerds except that "wonks get dates." But it appears that wonks aren't much into sports; witness the Clinton staffer who, when told that a colleague had her picture taken with Henry Aaron, assumed the reference was to Henry J. Aaron, a noted Brookings Institution economist and author of such works as The Painful Prescription: Rationing Hospital Care. "When the Kennedys went to the beach, they played touch football," observed the Post. "When the Clintonites go to the beach, they discuss the problem of sand erosion and inadequate building setbacks."
For St. Pete's Sake
Bouquets to National League owners for deciding last week to keep the Giants in San Francisco "for the stability of baseball." But, at the same time, condolences to the good people of St. Petersburg, Fla., who were cruelly led to believe the Giants would be coming their way. Over the years baseball groups from the Tampa Bay area have been teased by the Minnesota Twins (1984), tickled by the Oakland A's ('85), nuzzled by the Chicago White Sox ('88), dallied with by the Texas Rangers ('88), kept standing on tiptoes by the Seattle Mariners ('92) and, finally, left at the altar by the Giants. Tampa-St. Pete also lost out to Miami and Denver when the National League named its expansion teams last year.
Having allowed itself to be shamelessly used by six major league clubs, St. Pete has wised up at last. No sooner did word arrive of last week's rejection than the group that coveted the Giants, reckoning that Tampa-St. Pete had suffered damages of $3.5 billion, filed suit against various baseball parties. Meantime, the two-year-old Suncoast Dome lies virtually fallow in downtown St. Pete, reminding us of the segment in the movie Mondo Cane in which aborigines in New Guinea, enchanted by the big airplanes that fly overhead, clear a landing strip in the belief that it will lure the craft to their village.