mafia power play
a letter to details magazine from the nhl
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PROSKAUER ROSE LLP
1585 Broadway
New York, NY

Los Angeles
Washington DC
Boca Raton
Clifton NH
Paris

April 21, 1998

Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested

Details Magazine
632 Broadway
New York, New York 10012

Gentlemen:

We write on behalf of our client, the National Hockey League, in connection with your article entitled "Report on the Russian Mob" contained in your May 1998 issue. On behalf of our client we advise that your article is false, misleading and defamatory and we demand an immediate retraction. If you fail to properly and immediately correct the record we reserve all of our clients rights to see appropriate recovery for libel, and damages in connection therewith.

Insofar as our client is concerned the falsehoods in the article include:

1. The charge that, upon learning of the allegations of Russian mob influence in hockey "the NHL stood by idly, even stonewalling a 1996 congressional investigation." The facts are:

  • Upon hearing the rumors of Russian organized crime involvement with the NHL the NHL Security Department conducted a fact finding mission, and interviewed numerous club officials and Russian NHL players. The results of that investigation led the NHL to conclude that there was no basis to conclude Russian organized crime had infiltrated the league. Based upon a continued monitoring of the situation, the NHL continues to believe this to be the fact.

  • The NHL cooperated with the FBI's investigation and even arranged for the FBI to interview some of the players named in the allegations.

  • The NHL cooperated with congressional investigators and facilitated the interviews with Russian players as requested by that Committee.

2. The charge that "the NHL is now so compromised by Russian gangsters that the integrity of the game itself may be in jeopardy." There is absolutely no basis for that false and scurrilous allegation, which goes to the very heart of the true competition upon which NHL games are based.

Corroboration for the foregoing is not limited to statements by the NHL. In what we understand is a rare public comment, the FBI recently issued a press statement concerning alleged Russian organized crime infiltration of the National Hockey League, which read as follows:

"While the Federal Bureau of Investigation is aware of isolated instances where individual hockey players have been targets of extortion, these events appear to have occurred at random. The FBI is unaware of any instances where National Hockey League games have been 'fixed' or even where attempts have been made to 'fix' a National Hockey League game. The FBI enjoys a good working relationship with the security department of the National Hockey League."

3. The implication that the NHL refused to cooperate with your reporter who was writing the story. Your initial request for interviews were made during the time immediately surrounding the Winter Olympics with which all personnel in the League were heavily involved, and most were in Japan. Moreover, in your subsequent interview applications, you failed, despite our repeated requests, made in accordance with standard policy, to identify the subject matter of the interviews. Indeed, one interview that you conducted with a team representative was set up after you advised--falsely--that you were doing a story about rising Russian stars in the NHL.

The NHL has an exemplary record of integrity in the outcome of its games. When charges are raised that organized crime has infiltrated the League they are promptly and appropriately investigated, as they were here. The allegations of your article are false, as the FBI has confirmed. Your article is clearly written with malice in an effort to damage the League's well-deserved reputation. Please be advised that we demand a prompt retraction of the allegations in your article. Absent such a retraction we reserve our client's rights to recover appropriate damages from you.

Very truly yours,

Michael A. Cardozo

cc: Mr. Robert I. Friedman

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