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NHL Owners, Players No Closer to Settling : Pro hockey: As league prepares to cancel more games, union rejects offer to examine books.

October 29, 1994|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In moves that add up to no foreseeable end to the lockout, an NHL spokesman said Friday that more games will be canceled and the players' association rejected an offer to look into management's books.

Through Friday, 154 games--14.1% of the 1,092-game schedule--had been missed. However, the league has canceled only four games from each club's 84-game schedule, saying that games might be rescheduled. Announcing more cancellations--the actual canceling will be done Monday and might erase 10 games per team--is a concession that the season will be greatly curtailed when, or if, it begins.

"Based on building availability, we lose the ability to reschedule," said Brian Burke, the NHL's director of hockey operations. "I can't see how it (the cancellation) can be less than double digits. The games are gone and the players' salaries, to that point, are forfeited."

The league and the union will meet next week, but they are attempting to keep the date and site secret to avoid media scrutiny. They last met Monday in Chicago.

Management's last offer called for the league to agree to play while independent auditors tried to verify the NHL's claim of a $32-million loss in 1992-93.

"Obviously and without any doubt we have no interest in their proposal," said Bob Goodenow, executive director of the NHLPA. "And we are still waiting for a reply to our request for financial data."

A league source said it provided that information long ago, but Goodenow had ignored it.

Meanwhile, the players are chafing.

"I have been playing hockey for 30 years and now I am not playing and I am frustrated," said the Kings' Wayne Gretzky, who is organizing a goodwill tour of Europe in December. "I literally hate it."

The Kings' Marty McSorley is recruiting players for a benefit game Nov. 6 in Belleville, Canada, where he played junior hockey.

Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues said he will propose at an NHLPA meeting Wednesday in Toronto that players make another no-strike pledge. Their first pledge was rejected.

"I'm going to see if the guys will offer our 'Let's play' package again, and see if it can't get worked out," Hull told The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

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