The Voice Of Reason

This is Gary Bettman. He’s having a nice little run here, with two pretty famous teams in the final and the league having more good stories than bad over the last while.

I’ve been waiting for the league to weigh in on the Brian Buke story that has Anaheim’s GM apparently on his way to Toronto this summer or next, even though he has a binding contract with another club in the league. This is a very important point, because it speaks to the very credibility of the National Hockey League. This isn’t some split-second decision that allows Wayne Gretzky to do something illegal that isn’t called, this is the league’s business in the light of day and it smells bad.

Bettman did not quote the Toronto situation directly but did give his opinion about what might happen should one team tamper with another’s management team. Quoting Bettman: “People who sign contracts can be held to them by the other party to the contract, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If there’s tampering going on, ultimately there are no secrets in this world. We will get to the bottom of it. And I’m no fan of tampering. And when it happens, it gets punished severely. A team that meddles with an individual under contract could face heavy fines and the loss of draft picks. And an individual who talks to a team while he’s still under contract would face fines and a possible suspension.”

I’m surprised it needed to be said, but happy about it all the same.

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22 Responses to "The Voice Of Reason"

  1. Rick says:

    It’s a strange situation all around.

    If you choose to believe the hockey insiders, on Friday Darren Dreger reported on Stauffers show that Burke is not to pleased with Anaheim’s refusal to let him talk to Toronto which pretty much sets up a lose lose situation for both teams in the coming year if you buy the belief that Toronto is going to wait until Burke is available.

    Why the hell would Anaheim even want Burke for the next season if he has one eye on the door while making million dollar decisions. It takes years to build a winner but you can tank a good thing in the blink of an eye.

    As for Bettman, nice to hear him say they won’t put up with collusion. I suppose the next time a UFA signs at 10 miuntes past midnight on July 1 I will just chalk it up extremely efficient negotiating by all parties involved.

  2. Rick says:

    oops, obviously I meant tampering instead of collusion.

  3. PPP says:

    I’d be interested in finding out which reporter posed the question and whether he has written any story with proof that there has been any tampering.

    So far all the innuendo has involved the assumption by some members of the media that Dave Nonis would willingly go from GM to some assistant role until Burke can get to Toronto.

    Considering that the refusals by Florida, Detroit, et al have been embarrassingly public it seems unlikely that MLSE is being above board with all other teams but the Ducks.

    I’d love to know who posed that line of questioning though since it implied actually malfeasance had occurred in the league beyond the implication that MLSE had done anything wrong with regard to Brian Burke.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Rick: It’s a vital point and Anaheim can’t just give up for several reasons:

    1. The timeline is not their own in terms of evaluating their GM situation.
    2. As we’ve seen with the Toronto dog and pony show, not everyone is available.
    3. There are very strict guidelines in this regard. A team may request the opportunity to talk to another team’s employee but if permission is not granted then you must obey. How would Toronto like it if Anaheim picked up the phone today and asked Kaberle if he likes warm weather?

    This is a fundamental issue.

  5. Scott says:

    “People who sign contracts can be held to them by the other party to the contract, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    Good thing Lowe grabbed his ankles the instant Pronger wanted out.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Scott: That’s an excellent point, and I think the Yashin-Ottawa situation is also one we can talk about in this regard.

  7. Rick says:

    “It’s a vital point and Anaheim can’t just give up for several reasons:”

    I realize that Anaheim can’t just give up, that’s what makes the situation so shitty for them.

    Maybe I was being naive but when it first broke that Burke was going to honour the last year of his contract I assumed that the decision was made on mutual ground between the Ducks owners and Burke himself.

    Now, if Dreger is accurate, it appears that the decision was made inspite of what Burke actually wanted.

    Certainly a demand that is fair for ownership to make but to what end?

    They are damned if they let him go because they are left scrambling for a replacement but they may be even more damned by keeping him because it only takes one or two “marginal” moves to set a team back years in todays NHL. Something that must be a concern for the Ducks particularily in a capped world when the GM requires absolutely no long term planning to be apart of his agenda.

    There just seems like there is a lot at stake for the Ducks ownership and they are set to take the pipe no matter what decision they make.

    Maybe the NHL will get lucky and the Ducks will quietly carry out a GM search (oh say Doug Armstrong) hire him and then promptly give Burke his walking papers. Of course this would happen after the Leafs sign Doug MacLean to a 5 year deal out of desperation.

    Hey a guy can dream can’t he?

  8. HBomb says:

    A lose-lose situation for Toronto AND Anaheim?

    Sweet. Let it ride.

  9. Bruce says:

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    What he said.

    :D :D

  10. Jonathan says:

    It says something about the farcical nature of MLSE that when Gary Bettman is put in the same context with them he comes out sounding sensible.

  11. CM says:

    Its too bad Bettman can’t get his head out of the sand and come to terms with drug use in the NHL.

    If there is no problem then why are you afraid to test Gary?

  12. knighttown says:

    “I’d love to know who posed that line of questioning though since it implied actually malfeasance had occurred in the league beyond the implication that MLSE had done anything wrong with regard to Brian Burke.”

    PPP, I read the interview and it was an interesting question to say the least. It went something like this:

    Question:
    Mr. Bettman, say one of your teams hires a GM who stays for a year and then coveniently moves away to allow his friend (who is currently under contract) to take his job. Would that be considered collusion?

    Bettman:
    That seems pretty far fetched.

    Questioner:
    Not that far fetched sir. It could happen in your league.

    Then GB goes into his speach as quoted by LT.

  13. Ducey says:

    Seems to me that Bettman was likely wilfully ignoring the Burke issue and refering to player tampering.

    The tampering with respect to Burke has already happened:
    1) TO asks for permission – leak to media
    2) ANA responds publically
    3) More leaks by TO that they may try interim GM thing until Bruke’s contract is done
    4) If they go with an interim GM you can bet they will be leaking the terms of their offer by Christmas.

    Burke would have to be a moron not to see what is happening here and therefore he will not sign a long term deal with ANA and just see what is there for him in TO next summer.

    All this with no actual contact between Burke and TO.

    Bettman will do nothing because it is all just “speculation” by the media and he cannot punish Burke for simply waiting for his deal to run out.

    If I am ANA I would start demanding a pick or a player as compensation to let Burke go now. At least they get something out of TO’s madness. Something like a 3rd rounder for the right to speak to Burke for 48 hours. This would turn into a #1 pick should they hire him.

  14. Shawn says:

    Tell me what legal leg they’d have to stand on if the NHL charged them with tampering? Unless there’s evidence of the Leafs and Burke talking what possible basis would they have.

  15. Lowetide says:

    If there was evidence of tampering I don’t think the NHL would sue, they’d just hand down penalties. Right?

    As for whether it’s happened or not, I cannot imagine the Leafs would have gone beyond asking and then making it public.

    If they did and there was a lawyer in the room then there really is no answer for the behaviour.

    This is pretty easy stuff, right? Ask, get no for an answer, move on. Right?

  16. Shawn says:

    I would think so. As for what would happen in Nonis came in and then Burke took over last year… well frankly as far as I’m concerned there’s absolutely nothign the NHL can do without proof that the Leafs or Nonis talked to Burke about the job. That’s a VERY hard thing to prove.

    If that happened I’m pretty sure they’d get away with it. Of course in my view that situation would see Burke become “President” of the Leafs in the same way JD basically runs the Blues when it comes to big decisions. Nonis can be the GM, but Burke is where the buck would stop. If that happens the league couldn’t act without evidence of tampering beyond public leaks.

  17. David says:

    This is Gary Bettman. He’s having a nice little run here, with two pretty famous teams in the final

    Unfortunately, just like last year, it is turning out to be a total yawner of a final. Further, the light bulbs in charge of scheduling put a week between the end of the semis and the start of the final, and then stretched the potential 7 games out over 3 Saturdays, seemingly to make NBC (who doesn’t cover hockey) happy. The more we try to “sell” this game, the worse it gets.

  18. PunjabiOil says:

    At the same time, there are ways to get around the tampering laws indirectly.

    For example, GM’s can talk through a 3rd party – i.e. player’s agents.

    What? You thought players would make life-altering decisions in a span of 1-12 hours on July 1?

    Joe Sakic was calling Ryan Smyth over the months leading to July 1 – I wonder who encouraged that.

  19. Lowetide says:

    PJ Oil: Of course, that’s understood. However there seems to me a blatant disregard here for the system and honestly if the Leafs have stepped over the line the league must crack the whip.

    Leafs or no Leafs, if Kirke and Burke have had dialogue the league’s credibility is in question.

  20. Black Dog says:

    Latest here is Nonis signing in St.Louis or in one other (sorry can’t remember). Can’t blame the guy, why would he want to be second banana when he could run the show elsewhere. That idea had Richard Peddie’s fingerprints all over it.

    Rumour has Armstrong or Neil Smith being the choice du jour or Fletcher hanging in for a year.

    Hard to believe what a farce the whole process has become. ;)

  21. Bruce says:

    If I am ANA I would start demanding a pick or a player as compensation to let Burke go now. At least they get something out of TO’s madness.

    I like the idea somebody posted that Toronto would pay even more dearly and get Burke and Bertuzzi as a package. The ol’ “You want this guy? then you have to pay THIS guy!” theory. (shades of Mark Bell)

    The bad side of that proposal would be the spectre of Bertuzzi on HNiC for 26 Saturdays. Not to mention the new penthouse level of media fawning over Burke, which is already plenty hard to stomach.

    It says something about the farcical nature of MLSE that when Gary Bettman is put in the same context with them he comes out sounding sensible.

    Well said, Jonathan. The ol’ “You know you’re a fucking idiot when you look like a fucking idiot even when compared to THIS fucking idiot” theory.

    That idea had Richard Peddie’s fingerprints all over it.

    You said it, BDHS. My thoughts on Peddie are encapsulated in the “fucking idiot” comment above.
    ***

    I feel sorry for (some) Leaf fans, but this whole scenario has been good for a lot of laughs. Three times out of the playoffs and the Universe stops expanding … (now if only the NHL would do the same)

  22. PDO says:

    cm:

    Is Caffiene and Sudy’s a drug, or not? And at what point does it become abuse? 2 coffee’s on game day? 3? 4? 5? 6?

    That’s the question that the NHL faces. It’s got fuck all to do with HGH or anything like that… if you want proof take a look at what Phaneuf looks like without a shirt on in those pictures all over the net. They’re in great shape, no doubt, but they’re not WWE Comic Book characters by any means.

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