SI: Pollock built his empire by trading expendables for first-round draft choices. The first-round draft choices—Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt, for example—became stars and the expendables remained expendables. Why not prohibit clubs from trading first-round choices?
Ziegler. I always felt that clubs should not be restricted from trying to improve themselves as they saw fit. History suggests this judgment may need reevaluating. But then, if you prohibit a club from trading away a first pick, you may deny it the chance to get the one key player who might lift it into the playoffs next year. Ultimately, any imbalance must be corrected by management, by good drafting.
Eagleson: There are no magic formulas. You can't legislate against stupidity.
SI: Something that has produced some exciting play is international hockey, particularly the two memorable NHL-Soviet series. Yet eventually isn't international play just going to create one more problem for the NHL? After all, once you've seen Canada-Russia, how can you get excited by Colorado-Washington?
Ziegler. We feel that international competition creates interest in hockey. The fans want it and it produces revenue. And there's prestige to be gained from it.
SI: Even when the Russians beat you as they did 5-2-1 in the club series two seasons ago?
Ziegler. That's just a fact of life.
SI: Alan, besides being head of the players' association, you're also an agent for individual players, with the result that you represent some players at one level, others at two levels. While wearing your agent's hat, and with the help of four accountants and six secretaries, you represent not only 100 players and several coaches but also half a dozen general managers, the very men with whom you negotiate players' contracts. You join the management to stage international tournaments. And while leading the NHL players' association, you've delivered players into the WHA. In 25 words or less...
Ziegler. That'll be a first.
SI:...aren't there some obvious conflicts here?