IMG turns over new Leaf

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Amid talk of the NHL using replacements next year -- perhaps to be challenged by a player-sponsored league -- next month's International Management Group tour of Europe will be announced today.

Player agent J.P. Barry, manager of hockey for IMG, confirmed yesterday that Tie Domi will join IMG client Mats Sundin as the Maple Leafs representatives for games in Sweden, Russia, Switzerland and Latvia. Domi, the Leafs' penalty king, will not be asked to change his belligerent ways in a series that Barry believes will be heated at times.

"Tie's enthusiasm will bring a lot to the team," Barry said in Chicago. "We need to be a fully balanced team. This won't be just a team that can put the puck in the net.

"I'm sure the Russians will want to beat us badly," he said of two games against that country's all-stars. "It will be 5-on-5 hockey with European rules, but very competitive. There will be no restrictions."

Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek will be in goal for the IMG team.

As for the idea of replacements popping up in an impasse labour war next season, agent Art Breeze of Calgary warned the league of the consequences.

"It will be every interesting ... to see how the league's monopoly is competitively challenged on and off the ice, if and when it begins play with replacement players," Breeze said. "Let's see how the $2 billion-plus US owners revenue grab is affected then. The players will only be pushed so far. When they push back, it will be with a resounding thud."

Breeze was referring to a player-run league, one that would face numerous startup issues, but would be an alternative to crossing the owners' line or staying home.

NHLPA vice-president Vince Damphousse said the idea of a league has been talked about briefly at the executive level, but all energy is being directed to finding a solution this year. That was echoed by union executive director Bob Goodenow, who must first deal with the question of replacements themselves. If talks are still at an impasse next year, the owners can impose their own collective bargaining agreement and invite replacements to test union resolve.

"If that becomes part of the league's strategy, I'll deal with it at that time," Goodenow said yesterday.


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