Pat Quinn, then a rival hockey coach, was paid $100,000 as "a matter of ordinary, common business practice," according to owner Frank Griffiths of the Vancouver Canucks.
Griffiths, on the opening day of testimony in the Canucks' civil suit against the National Hockey League, said the midseason payment was merely a signing bonus to seal a contract making Quinn, then coach of the Kings, president and general manager of the Canucks.
"It's the water that goes into the cement so that it casts up hard," Griffiths said.
The trial has grown out of NHL President John Ziegler's Jan. 30 decision to impose a $310,000 fine on the Canucks for signing Quinn in late 1986 while he was still coaching Los Angeles. Ziegler also fined the Kings $110,000, and Quinn was barred from coaching in the NHL until the 1990-91 season.
Ziegler ruled the Canucks' actions "dishonorable and prejudicial" to the league.
The Canucks have asked the British Columbia Supreme Court to overturn Ziegler's ruling and declare their actions honorable. They are not seeking damages, only court costs.