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Hockeyland Joins Disney's World : Expansion: Franchises in Orange County and South Florida give league some needed capital.

December 11, 1992|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Disney is such a first-rate operation, you know they're going to run it well and there's going to be competition in the L.A. market," King President Roy Mlakar told reporters at the NHL meetings. "But Bruce, as chairman, had to do what was right for hockey. It means we're going to have to work harder.

"That's my job, as president. And that's why I'm bald."

During the news conference, NHL President Gil Stein and McNall frequently mentioned the quality of the Walt Disney Co., its reputation and commitment to "family values."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday December 12, 1992 Home Edition Sports Part C Page 4 Column 3 Sports Desk 2 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
NHL expansion--A story in Friday's editions incorrectly identified the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company as one of several organizations found in a Canadian court to have wrongly diverted $21 million (Canadian) in NHL pension funds. No allegations were made against the insurance company, which was a party to the court proceeding only because the annuity contract in question was bought from it.

Michael D. Eisner, chairman and chief executive officer of Disney, was asked about the league's recent emphasis on the reduction of fighting in hockey.

Did it have anything to do with Disney's pending involvement?

"I don't think even before the new direction there's been a problem with hockey as far as image," he said. "It's a great sport. I can show you a couple of Goofy cartoons where he's playing hockey pretty aggressively. We're pleased with the redirection to finesse and increase of skill in the game."

So, who will put together Orange County's hockey team?

Because several NHL sources have indicated that they think both teams will start play by next season, Eisner will have to act quickly to hire a general manager or director of hockey operations.

Among those possibly available immediately are Montreal scout Jack Ferreira, who was the Sharks' general manager in their expansion season and former general manager in Minnesota. Ferreira was the victim of a power struggle in San Jose last summer.

Mike Keenan, former Chicago Blackhawk general manager and coach, is unemployed but probably won't be much longer. Keenan was interviewed on radio last week in Calgary and said that he is "ready for any challenge," including coaching an expansion team.

Other general manager candidates could include former Vancouver coach Bob McCammon, Edmonton assistant general manager Bruce MacGregor and director of player personnel Barry Fraser.

Hiring a coach right away wouldn't be as pressing. Keenan could do both. So can McCammon. If the Orange County team only needed a coach, possible candidates would be Michel Bergeron, former Nordique and Ranger coach. Those not available immediately include people such as New Jersey's Herb Brooks, Minnesota assistant Rick Wilson, Kings' assistant Cap Raeder and Robbie Ftorek, formerly of the Kings, now coaching the Devils' top farm team.

Brooks, it is believed, has a multiyear contract, as does Wilson.

NHL Expansion Chronology

* Original teams (pre-1967): Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs.

1967-68 season (six teams): California Seals (became Cleveland Barons, then merged with Minnesota North Stars), Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, *Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues.

* 1970-71 (two teams): Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks.

* 1972-73 (two teams): Atlanta Flames (since moved to Calgary), New York Islanders.

* 1974-75 (two teams): Kansas City Scouts (became Colorado Rockies, then New Jersey Devils), Washington Capitals.

* 1979-80 (four teams from World Hockey Assn.): Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets.

* 1991-92 (one team): San Jose Sharks.

* 1992-93 (two teams): Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning.

* 1993-94 or 1994-95 (two teams projected): Anaheim, South Florida.

* RELATED STORY: A1

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