The NHL / Chris Baker : Player Strike Possible Next Season

The National Hockey League may be headed toward a player strike next season.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires in 1987, but Alan Eagleson, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Assn., said a provision in the contract allows the NHLPA to have the agreement expire in 1986 if it gives notice to the owners by this fall.

Eagleson said he'll "take a hard line" in negotiations with the league over a new collective bargaining agreement.

"The teams are in better financial strength than they have been," he said before the All-Star game last week. "They have some money to play with now. They will have to be reasonable as we have been in the past in bad times. If they are not, we will take a hard line in '86."

NHL President John Ziegler admitted that the league is doing well financially.

"Three or four teams will lose a substantial amount of money this year, over $1 million," he said. "But more teams have an opportunity to break even or make money than ever before. Five to seven teams will make significant money. Attendance is very strong, and the new television contracts have helped."

The main issue will be free agency.

There is virtually no movement among free agents now because of heavy compensation rules. The players will attempt to loosen those rules.

Among other matters discussed at the league meeting were bonus draft picks for teams that have missed the playoffs for several years. Pittsburgh, Hartford and New Jersey would be among teams that would qualify for the special picks.

During a recent game between Quebec and Montreal, several fans smuggled three pigs covered in sacks into the Quebec Coliseum and released them onto the ice. It took a cleanup crew several minutes to chase the pigs off the ice

Students from a local university claimed credit for the action.

"They should have sent the Hunters to pick up the pigs because they're both come from the farm," quipped Quebec Coach Jacques Lemaire, referring to Dale and Mark Hunter, the brothers who play for Quebec and Montreal.

Charles Schultz, a long-time hockey fan, drew the cover for the All-Star game program. Pictured on the cover was Snoopy, wearing a Calgary Flames hat and carrying a hockey stick, on his way to Calgary for the All-Star game.

"They never let me play, but I enjoy the dinner," Snoopy said.

The Professional Hockey Writers Assn. failed to elect a president in a three-hour meeting before the All-Star game.

Six votes were taken, but writers couldn't decide between Rod Beaton of USA Today and Frank Brown of the New York Daily News.

The matter is being settled with a special mail vote.

NHL Notes

Kings rookie defenseman Garry Galley said the team has been very patient with him this season. "I had to struggle through the first 25 games. But Pat (Quinn) and Mike (Murphy) have been very patient with me and changed my defensive partner from (Brian) Engblom to (Jay) Wells. I think you get stale when you play with the same person all the time, and when you get changed over to a different partner, you work harder to be that much better." . . . Andy Van Hellemond became the first referee to wear a helmet at an All-Star game. The first player to wear a helmet at the game was Brian Conacher of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968. . . . Demand is so high for playoff tickets in Washington that the Capitals probably won't offer any for sale to the public. The club is allowing season ticket-holders to have first crack at the tickets, with no limit on the number they may purchase. . . . Ex-Chicago Black Hawks coach Orval Tessier didn't speak to any of his former players after he was replaced by General Manager Bob Pulford recently. . . . The players association says it will ask that the All-Star break be expanded from 3 to 4 1/2 days next season.

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