The National Hockey League's Board of Governors recessed its meeting briefly today without deciding whether to close down or continue the operation of the Cleveland Barons franchise.
NHL vice president Don Ruck said, "Basically, nothing is startlingly different." He said he expected at least three more hours of discussions would be needed to decide some couse of action.
Baron owner Mel Swig, who has attempted to bolster the sagging finances of his troubled hockey club, was not involved in the board meeting. He spent the afternoon with various NHL officials, among them board chairman John Ziegler.
Ziegler, vice president of the Detroit Red Wings, has worked with Swig since the Jan. 24-25 meetings at Vancouver, where Swig asked for assistance and advice on the matter.
They subsequently met in early February with the Baron players and Alan Eagleson, executive director of the NHL Players Association.
Swig missed his last payroll on Feb. 1 and league by-laws permit a player to become a free agent if a default is not settled within 15 days. That deadline expires at midnight Thursday.
Ruck refused comment on the progress of the board's discussions. "There is a tremendous amount to consider but we have tried to put on the table all of the possible alternatives," he said.
On alternative would be to shut down the team with an auction sale of players under contract following immediately. Another would have the league carry the team financially through the remaining seven weeks of the season.
It was also understood Swig had obtained offers of financial assistance that might solve the Barons, problems if the league will accept their aid.
George Gund, a minority owner of the Barons, reportedly would furnish additional financial aid and probably become majority owner, while Sanford Greenberg, owner of the coliseum in which the Barons play and a member of the board of directors of the Washington Capitals, also was expected to furnish some temporary financial help.