Niedermayer Is Signed, Palffy Rebuffed

Posted: October 31, 1998

Scott Niedermayer is back in the NHL, but Ziggy Palffy may be headed for an extended holdout.

Niedermayer ended a contract dispute that caused the defenseman to miss three weeks of the season when he signed a multiyear deal with the New Jersey Devils yesterday.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders rejected what might be the last contract proposal from Palffy, a restricted free agent who has remained at home in Europe.

Early this week, Islanders general manager Mike Milbury flew to Vienna, Austria, to meet with Palffy and a representative. Palffy turned down a two-year deal and, on Thursday, made a three-year counterproposal.

That proposal would pay Palffy a $2 million signing bonus and a $4.6 million salary this season. Next season, he would receive $6.5 million. And at the team's option, Palffy would start the third year at a $7 million salary, with a $1 million bonus if he was to score at least 80 goals in the final two years of the deal.

After the proposal was rejected, Milbury's only comment was: ``We have no plans to trade him.''

The negotiations between the Devils and Niedermayer were more amicable, as the two sides were only about $250,000 apart on a contract that would pay the seven-year veteran between $3.25 million and $3.5 million annually.

Lou Lamoriello, the Devils' president and general manager, declined to give details of the contract except to say, ``It is more than one year.''

Niedermayer, also a restricted free agent, had been playing for the Utah Grizzlies of the International Hockey League, but will fly to New Jersey today.

* U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bernard Markovitz approved a $2.5 million loan from coowner Roger Marino to the Pittsburgh Penquins so players could be paid yesterday. It will be repaid to Marino at 8 percent interest. Marino earlier had loaned the team another $2.5 million and will be repaid before other creditors.

* The 1999 NHL All-Star Game will again match the North American stars against the best players from the rest of the world, the league announced. The second All-Star Game International Showdown will be played Jan. 24 at the Ice Palace in Tampa, Fla.

TENNIS Pete Sampras got some unexpected help in his drive to stay atop the tennis rankings for an unprecedented sixth year in a row.

Jan-Michael Gambill, Sampras' opponent in the Eurocard Open quarterfinals in Stuttgart, Germany, quit their match because of an injury. Sampras' closest rival in the rankings, No. 2 Marcelo Rios, also dropped out for the same reason.

Sampras was leading by 4-1 when Gambill retired with a back injury. Only minutes earlier, Rios had retired before his quarterfinal against Yevgeny Kafelnikov because of a thigh injury.

In the semifinals, Kafelnikov will play 12th-seeded Jonas Bjorkman, who ousted No. 13 Greg Rusedski, 6-3, 6-2.

* Mary Pierce reached the Luxembourg Open final with 6-1, 7-5 victory over Elena Likhovtseva of Russia.

Pierce's opponent will be Silvia Farina of Italy, who ousted top-seeded Nathalie Tauziat, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

JURISPRUDENCE In addition to the drug charges that forced him into rehabilitation this month and threatened his Hall of Fame nomination, former New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor also has financial problems.

Taylor filed for personal bankruptcy on Thursday, in part to avoid a possible foreclosure on his $605,000 home in Upper Saddle River, N.J., his attorney said. Taylor is one year behind in his payments.

* The woman who lived with Mickey Mantle is at odds with the late New York Yankees star's family over the ownership and sale of three paintings that she says she and Mantle owned jointly.

Greer Johnson has been trying to arrange a sale of the paintings, and the slugger's family has gone to court to block it. The paintings, valued at $150,000, hang in Mickey Mantle's Restaurant in New York.

Mantle, who lived with Johnson during his final years, was separated from wife Merlyn Louise Mantle, a coexecutor of his estate, for 15 years until his death on Aug. 13, 1995, but they never divorced.

NOTEWORTHY The Villanova women's cross-country team won its sixth Big East championship of the 1990s in Franklin Park in Boston, and Marcus O'Sullivan was named the conference's coach of the year. The Wildcats scored 40 points to 53 for runner-up Georgetown.

Carrie Tollefson, who missed the 1998 indoor and outdoor track seaons with a foot injury, finished fourth overall in her first race back. The senior, from Minnesota, ran the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 59 seconds. Tollefson was the defending Big East and NCAA women's champion. Sarah Dupre of Providence won this year's race in 16:51.

Villanova's Sarah Vance Goodman was sixth, Kristine Jost seventh, and Kristen Nicolini eighth.

The Wildcats' men finished fifth with 119 points, as Providence raced to the title with 36.

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