Nearly 19 hours of discussion here by the National Hockey League's Board of Governors has failed to move the Colorado Rockies out of limbo and into the New Jersey Meadowlands.
Rockies owner Peter Gilbert, who reportedly lost $4 million last season, has asked the league to allow him to transfer his club to the new arena at the East Rutherford, N.J., sports complex. Such a move requires unanimous approval of the board.
After Tuesday's session, which broke up at 3 a.m., the board met again for about two hours this morning before recessing. The meetings will be reconvened no later than Thursday, May 27.
When questioned about progress on the issue, NHL President John Ziegler said, "Nothing has been resolved at this time. Until all the elements are agreed upon, there is no package."
Ziegler was reluctant to discuss the complications surrounding the Rockies' potential move, but indemnification fees to both New York hockey teams and to the Philadelphia Flyers, plus a need for league realignment if the move takes place, are significant factors.
Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin has been noncommittal on rumors suggesting a merger of his team and the Rockies. He attended Tuesday's session here, but when the meeting recessed for dinner, he went home. He did not return for this morning's session.
Of a Capitals-Rockies merger, Ziegler said, "That was a possibility." Asked if his use of the past tense meant it was no longer viable, he said no possibilities could be excluded.
Since the Capitals lost about $3 million last year, Pollin is considering all options, including selling the team, looking into a merger with the Rockies and either staying at Capital Centre or moving to New Jersey. Pollin was not available for comment today.
The unsettled situation has left some front-office employes of the Capitals uneasy, as well as some fans who wonder why they haven't been billed for their 1982-83 season tickets.
John McMullen of baseball's Houston Astros is reportedly interested in acquiring the Rockies. McMullen did not attend today's meeting, nor was he available for comment.
Ziegler refused to talk about the proposed move's chief stumbling blocks, saying, "I could but I will not. If I start making comments, I run the risk of jeopardizing all the hard work."
Gilbert came out of the meeting today and said, "I'm much more optimistic that there'll be a team in the Meadowlands than I was a week ago," but he would not elaborate.
Some board members regard realignment as the key issue. If Colorado moves out of the Smythe Division--whose other members are Los Angeles, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary--a team from the Norris Division--Winnipeg, St. Louis, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit or Toronto--would be a logical addition to the Smythe.
However, none of those teams is anxious to make such a switch. The league's "new" alignment was drawn up in December 1980 and members are reluctant to restructure again.