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NHL LABOR SITUATION : Europeans Steer Clear of Player Signings

October 14, 1994|HELENE ELLIOTT

European clubs won't be allowed to sign locked-out NHL players and ignite a potential legal battle, said Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, on Thursday.

As the lockout lengthens--69 games have been wiped out in 13 days--growing numbers of players have sought to play in Europe. Among them are Swedish-born Patrik Carnback of the Mighty Ducks, Peter Forsberg of the Quebec Nordiques and Mats Sundin of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Others are looking at the International Hockey League, although that minor league has urged its clubs not to inflate its payrolls by signing NHL players.

According to Fasel, players who say they have been denied employment in North America won't find it in Europe. "We will not let them play," Fasel told the Canadian Press. "We have a contract with the NHL (governing player transfers) and will abide by that contract."

Steve McAllister, a spokesman for the NHL Players Assn., said his group hasn't fully examined the legal hurdles players would face in venturing to Europe or the IHL. He said the union would make its position clear next week.

The NHL issued a memo prohibiting clubs from making trades, calling up players or sending players down after Saturday. It also said it will inform clubs of a ticket refund policy by Nov. 1.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Bob Goodenow had no contact Thursday and no negotiations are scheduled. However, Brian Burke, the NHL's vice president and director of operations, said the league will ask for a resumption of talks next week. They last spoke Tuesday, when Bettman rejected a proposal by Goodenow and refused to allow the season to start Saturday.

Burke also said a full season could be played if a collective bargaining agreement is in place by Nov. 1, but the slow pace and antagonistic tone of recent talks make it unlikely. The league has yet to officially cancel games, and spokesman Arthur Pincus said no cancellation announcement is scheduled.

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