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HOCKEY / DAILY REPORT : MIGHTY DUCKS

Kariya's Status News to Some

September 19, 1997|ELLIOTT TEAFORD

Paul Kariya, a Canadian of Japanese descent, is expected to be a huge attraction when the Ducks open the season with Oct. 3-4 against the Vancouver Canucks in Tokyo--if he signs a new contract by then, that is. Several Japanese media outlets have sent reporters to Anaheim to file reports about the lack of a new contract for Kariya.

But the league office, which is using the Tokyo games to promote the debut of NHL players at the Nagano Olympics in February, is apparently unfazed by the possibility that Kariya might not be signed and in a Duck uniform.

"The league doesn't get involved in individual player-club negotiations. But as a practical matter, no particular players were promised, and the games are sold out anyway," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told a Toronto newspaper.

Bettman also said that when the series was arranged, Mark Messier--the other marquee player in the NHL's first two regular-season games outside North America--had not been signed as a free agent by the Canucks.

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