NHL executives have been dismissive of the demand for added funding—"It's just a lot of noise-making," says spokesman Frank Brown—partly because they know the league can lure Europe's finest players whether it funds development or not. Though the Europeans have little leverage apart from granting entr�e into the Olympics, their bargaining position is strengthened by how much the NHL wants to be in Salt Lake City. In a recent SI poll 21 of the 24 general managers who responded said they favored participation in the Olympics.
IIHF president Ren� Fasel. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and others will convene in early March to discuss the matter before the IIHF votes at a congress in Russia in May. "We'd like very much to reach an agreement, but we're not going to give in," says Fagerlund. "We've been playing in the Olympics for 75 years, and NHL players have been involved only once. I think we could get by without them."
The Cat on The Hat
Chinese ideograms, known in the U.S. by the Japanese word kanji, have become the tattoos of choice among rappers and their fans, and now puckheads are sporting the symbols as well. After the NHL unveiled a line of baseball caps emblazoned with the kanji corresponding to each team's nickname, it made sense that Predators general manager Dave Poile and his Penguins counterpart, Craig Patrick, donned their respective kanji caps for last month's announcement that Nashville and Pittsburgh will play two regular-season games in Japan next October.
Poile, however, won't be wearing that same cap in Tokyo. Shortly after the announcement, one of the Predators' minority owners, Terry London, showed the cap to his Japanese daughter-in-law, who pointed out that the kanji on it would be translated as "pussycat" That's a far less intimidating creature than the snarling, fanged feline on Nashville's logo would seem to suggest, and lest the Predators get heckled for being a bunch of...well, you know, the NHL stopped production on the Nashville caps and will issue new ones with the kanji for tiger.