espite an all-day meeting Tuesday that continued into the early morning hours, the National Hockey League Board of Governors was unable to resolve the Colorado Rockies situation.
Peter Gilbert, the team's owner, has asked the league to move the franchise out of Denver, where it lost a reported $4 million last season, into the new Meadowlands arena in East Rutherford, N.J.
But a number of considerations prevented swift resolution of the problem.
Transfer of a team from one locale to another is permitted only with the unanimous consent of the league's 21 teams. The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers have expressed reluctance at having another team in their territory.
The New York Rangers bypassed their option to move into New Jersey earlier this year, and are not considered a principal stumbling block to the potential move.
The board convened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, broke for lunch, and then took a late-afternoon recess to allow an eight-member study committee to meet separately. The full board resumed deliberations at 10 p.m.
NHL President John Ziegler would not talk about the progress of the meeting, offering only a tight smile and a terse, "No comment."
However, it was learned that representatives of the Flyers, Islanders and Rangers met separately with Ziegler for about an hour in the afternoon.
Islanders owner John Pickett said his team had no firm position on the prospect of a team being located in the Meadowlands. He added, "If it makes sense (from a league standpoint), we'll support it."
However, Pickett also laughingly said, "Why should I have to share the good things (with another team)? What we would have to share is a very valuable market.
"It may be fine; it may be devastation. But as a certainty, no one knows in advance what's good. If I was certain it had no impact on us, I'd be all for it."
Bob Butera, the Flyers president, expressed concern over the presence of a team in the Meadowlands, citing television rights and the fact that 20 percent of the Flyers' season ticket holders live in New Jersey.
"With so many teams in one area, you're talking about fan loyalties shifting around," he said.
Gilbert purchased the Rockies in February 1981 and realized the franchise was financially shaky the following summer when season-ticket sales lagged. He spent much of the last season unsuccessfully attempting to sell the team and has said the club cannot operate for another year in Denver.
John McMullen, chairman of the board of the Houston Astros, indicated interest in the team about two weeks ago, according to one league spokesman. McMullen heads up a group of New Jersey investors, who would purchase the team if it moves east.
However, no details of the potential sale to McMullen's group have been openly discussed.
The move, or any other solution to the Rockies' financial woes, could be stalled by several problems besides unanimous consent. Among them are indemnification payments which would have to be made to the Flyers, Islanders and Rangers; and the need for league realignment if the Rockies come east.
As Irving Grundman of the Montreal Canadiens said, "It's a lot like dancing. You take two steps forward, one step back."