SAN DIEGO — Kevin Crow, the Major Indoor Soccer League's Most Valuable Defensive Player a year ago, has asked to be traded if he and Socker owner Bob Bell cannot reach an agreement concerning the renegotiation of the defenseman's contract.
Crow, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $60,000-plus-a-year contract, said Bell had agreed to renegotiate at the end of last season, but has now changed his mind.
"I don't think Kevin has understood this yet, but I simply will not renegotiate a contract," Bell said. "Our differences are mostly philosophical. I absolutely firmly believe he has a contract that has to be honored and I can't see any justifiable reason to change it."
The Sockers, the four-time defending indoor soccer champions, opened training camp for the 1985-86 indoor season Monday, but Crow, along with high-scoring forwards Steve Zungul and Branko Segota, was absent.
Zungul, in Yugoslavia on vacation, hasn't been reached by anyone connected with the team to be informed that practice has started a week earlier than originally scheduled. Segota had some problems with immigration officials returning to the United States from Canada but is expected to fly to San Diego today and begin practicing.
Crow, meanwhile, will continue to sit out.
"Bob let me and my agent believe that we were going to renegotiate my contract at the end of this season," Crow, 24, said. "We made an agreement that I would play out last season with the intention of doing something about it (the contract). Now all of a sudden he's changed his position.
"I want to work something out or I've asked to be traded. I feel I'm doing the only thing I can do by sitting out right know."
Crow's agent, Scott Simpson, met with Bell on Tuesday and proposed a restructuring of Crow's contract, but said that right now, it is doubtful any agreement will be reached.
"He (Bell) doesn't want to renegotiate, but there's plenty of other ways to skin a cat," Simpson said. "When you restructure a contract, you usually hope that they'll add some performance bonuses or add an additional year to a contract at a considerably higher salary to make up for the inadequacies in the current contract."
In other words, Crow--making a bit more than the league average--wants to be recognized for his for performance on the field. He's already considered among the league's elite and would like to be paid accordingly.
Still, Bell says that he isn't budging.
"It's just like if by son walks in and says, 'I'm 6-feet tall and I want to be 6-foot-8.' I simply can't do it." Bell said. "I know Kevin had a great year last year, but I just can't do anything. If someone ever comes up with a plan to have a player come in and have his contract lowered after a bad year, then maybe I'll look into it.
"If I raise everybody's contract after a good year, then why should I ever have a contract in the first place? It will create a nightmare for the rest of the team. All of them will want more money every time someone does better."
The middleman in the whole situation, meanwhile, is Coach Ron Newman. And Newman is more concerned with what is going on on the field rather than what's going on off it.
"My first concern right know is to get these lads ready for the season opener," Newman said. "I think it's sad that Kevin's not here but he obviously doesn't want to be a part of the team right know. I know Bob and I can't see how he's going to change Kevin's contract and I don't see how he should. We only pay these players to play well and Kevin played well last year."
Another player who played well a year ago was Zungul, the league's leading scorer and Most Valuable Player. Although neither Bell nor other Sockers' officials are concerned by Zungul's absence, Newman is a bit upset.
"He's being fined for every practice he misses," Newman said. "It's not our responsibility to track him down. He probably expected practice to start on Oct. 1, but there's really no excuse for him. He played it too close to the wind and it's costing him."
Bell said that there is no reason to panic because of Zungul's absence.
"If he doesn't show up by Monday, then we'll start to worry," Bell said.