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Hockey Professionals Gain OK to Play in '88 Winter Olympics

May 07, 1987|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

The International Ice Hockey Federation has approved a proposal allowing professionals, including those in the National Hockey League, to play in the Olympics.

The proposal, which already has received the endorsement of the International Olympic Committee and has the support of IIHF President Gunther Sabetzki of Hungary, will be in effect for the 1988 Winter Games at Calgary, Canada.

But Walter L. Bush, president of the Amateur Hockey Assn. of the United States and a former owner of the Minnesota North Stars, said Wednesday that NHL teams are not likely to release their players for the Olympics.

"It's in the NHL by-laws that teams must present their best teams when they go to opposing rinks," Bush said. "Can you imagine a game in Los Angeles with Edmonton if Wayne Gretzky isn't there? There's not going to be a very good draw.

"Teams just aren't going to let the Gretzkys, the (Mike) Bossys and the (Mario) Lemieuxs go to play for three weeks in Calgary."

Bush said that his association's policy will not allow professionals to play for the U.S. Olympic team in Calgary unless they also are available for the entire training period, which begins after the team is selected this summer and includes 60 exhibition games.

Of the 10 members on the international federation's executive council, which met last week in Vienna, Bush said he was the only one who voted against the proposal.

The IOC will decide at its Congress next week in Istanbul whether to allow all tennis professionals to compete in the 1988 Summer Games at Seoul, South Korea.

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