The St. Louis Blues situation remained unresolved yesterday, although the National Hockey League's board of governors granted the team permission to withdraw from the league in two more years.
Ralston Purina, which owns the Blues, had attempted to sell the club to a Saskatchewan-based group in May, but the league rejected approval of that sale, which would have resulted in the Blues' moving to Saskatoon.
Ralston Purina then filed a $60 million lawsuit against the league, and then last week, offered the Blues to the NHL, to operate or dissolve.
At yesterday's meeting, the NHL voted to accept the team, provided Ralston Purina gives the league a two-year notice of its withdrawal.
According to a spokesman for the company, Ralston Purina's stance remains the same: it is getting out of the hockey business. A statement issued today reaffirms that the company is not participating in today's amateur draft, and advised the NHL to participate or not as the league decides. Potential buyers of the team are to deal directly with the NHL.
Although several scouts for the Blues have paid their own expenses to Montreal for the draft, they are awaiting word to proceed. The Blues do not have a pick until the third round.
This year's draft, somewhat thinner than those in recent years, still includes a few players who could surface in the NHL next season, particularly among forwards.
A pair of U.S.-born players are likely to be the Nos. 1 and 2 picks, making them the highest-chosen U.S. draftees.
Pat Lafontaine, who grew up in Detroit and who scored 104 goals and 130 assists last season for the Verdun team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, hopes to make the jump straight to the NHL rather than spending time in the minor leagues.
Brian Lawton, a Rhode Island 17-year-old, has said he would not turn pro even if he is chosen first in the draft, but admits he will make a decision after being drafted. He has said he may go to Providence College or play in the Olympics if he does not play in NHL.