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06-16-2004, 07:25 AM
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Players ponder new league

More players are giving consideration to joining the new World Hockey Association next season as the threat of an NHL lockout gets closer to reality.
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and the union says the season could be lost if the league insists on a salary cap.

WHA games are expected to start in late October in Detroit; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Dallas; Orlando; Jacksonville; and Quebec City.

Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, are expected to join the league once arena leases are completed.

A major selling point for the WHA is that players would be able to remain in North America.

"(Playing in Europe) would be difficult, leaving the family behind for who knows how long," Detroit Red Wings center Kris Draper said. "This (WHA) would be an option."

Forward Brett Hull whose father, Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, is the WHA commissioner also is expected to join the league if there's a lockout. The Red Wings aren't offering him a new contract.

The WHA plans to cap team payrolls at $15 million. Up to $5 million could be paid to one player.

"I couldn't tell you that I wouldn't consider it," said Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis, the NHL's MVP. "Sitting at home or making $5 million, it would be very tempting. Obviously, I would have to know where we were at, as far as the NHL situation."


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