SBD/Issue 124/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHL Competition Committee, Not GMs, To Make Decision On Head Shots

NHL Competition Committee Will Decide On
New Rule To Curb Dangerous Blows To Head

The NHL Competition Committee is the "real arbiter of change, the body that ultimately will determine whether a new rule to curb dangerous blows to the head proposed by the GMs on Wednesday becomes a reality next season," according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. GMs, "once considered the stewards of the game, are quite simply no longer in a position to impact the NHL directly." Sources said that the GMs are a "vital cog in the game's evolutionary machinery," but they agreed that the "perception that the GMs are still the power brokers they once were is misguided, and it is the competition committee that needs to become visible to fans and media alike." The 10-person committee is the "bastard child of the NHL lockout, a body representing the game's stakeholders, including owners, GMs and players, that was negotiated into existence and essentially stripped the GMs of their previously unilateral ability to impose change as they saw fit." NHL officials "insist that recommendations from the general managers could be taken up by the board of governors regardless of what the competition committee decides, but the reality is it never happens and won't happen while the competition committee exists" (ESPN.com, 3/10).

RINGING ENDORSEMENT: In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes the "monster hockey ratings" from the Vancouver Games "have set up an interesting battle over NHL participation in Sochi, with the NHL, the players, whichever TV network wins the U.S. rights and a government or two joining the fray." NBC holds NHL rights through the '10-11 season, and should it retain rights to both the Olympics and NHL, it will be "pressuring the league to allow its players to compete, because the Olympics won't be worth as much without NHL players." The players are "in favour of playing in Sochi, and participation will become a bargaining chip" in the next CBA. There also "will certainly be pressure from the Russian government" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/11). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt wrote, "What a thing it would be for hockey to have someone at the helm who could ride the momentum from the Olympics, who could grab the owners by their lapels and say forget your dead-end ideas, now is the time to take a leap, to think internationally and reap big rewards down the road. Someone who could forge a relationship with the players based on real mutual interests rather than threats. Why leave Europe to the KHL, close the doors opened by the Olympic experience, when the alternative is the same-old, same-old game of diminishing returns?" Brunt: "Barring a remarkable transformation, Bettman just isn't that guy. And for hockey and those who love it, that's too bad" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/9).

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: In Boston, Charles Pierce wrote NHL Dir of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, "confronted with a blatant and obvious cheap shot from a blatant and obvious thug that was a blatant and obvious attempt to injure" Bruins C Marc Savard, seems "prepared to take a dive on the whole affair." Savard suffered a concussion after a hit from Penguins LW Matt Cooke Sunday, but Campbell yesterday announced that Cooke would not be suspended for the hit. Pierce wrote, "This is the kind of nonsense you expect from the WWE -- not from the man in charge of policing the actions of the players in a putatively major sport. Someone higher up on the NHL chain of command should take Campbell aside and tell him it's time for juice and a nap now and put a grown-up in charge of keeping the players safe" (BOSTON.com, 3/9).

QUEST FOR REINSTATEMENT: NHL Officials Association President Brian Murphy yesterday at an Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing said that the NHL "unfairly 'mischaracterized' the abilities of referee Dean Warren when it fired him" in '08. Murphy said that "in the two years prior to his firing, Warren was conspicuously overlooked for playoff duty as the tone of his performance reviews turned decidedly critical." Warren is appearing before the board "seeking reinstatement as an NHL official based on allegations that he was fired because of his outspoken union activity" on the NHLOA Exec BOD. The NHL asserts that Warren was "fired for substandard performance on the ice" (TORONTO STAR, 3/11).

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