NHL's Shanahan Denies Disciplinary Decisions Have Been Influenced By Outside Sources
NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan "rebuffed the suggestion by many who say that his recent decisions have been influenced by Commissioner Gary Bettman, team owners, general managers and the players association," according to Christopher Botta of the N.Y. TIMES. Shanahan in a video conversation said, "No one got to us. No one has affected the way we operate." Botta noted Shanahan "is criticized as often for not suspending players" as he is for his suspensions. Shanahan "declines to offer explanations for every unpunished hit," but he "explained his rationale." Shanahan: "My job is not to make up the rules. It’s to enforce the rules we have. Now if the rules ever change, we'll enforce those. But for now, we know that if you make a full body check, there's going to be some subsequent contact with the head. Our advice is to hit through the body." Asked if the criticism has "lessened his enthusiasm for the job," Shanahan laughed. He said, "No, I can handle it. What I've learned is that I'm not interested in satisfying everyone who thinks every hit should be 10 or 15 games. I'm also not interested in satisfying members of the old guard who think there shouldn't be any suspensions" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz notes Kings LW Dwight King was not suspended after pushing Blues D Alex Pietrangelo into the boards during Game One of the team's Western Conference Semifinal series and missed last night's Game Two due to the injury he suffered on the play. Miklasz writes, "We realize that the NHL is the banana republic of professional sports, run by a spineless commissioner and a 'Player Safety' director who might as well be knee-capping the league’s stars, given his gross negligence in protecting them." The NHL is in a "state of Malice in Wonderland, where logic and common sense are forbidden." The youngest, best and brightest of the league "are prey for lunkheads, loons and low-rent hit men" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/1).
WHOA, CANADA: The Canadiens in '93 remain the last team based in Canada to win the Stanley Cup, and the GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle wrote the drought "has gotten rather embarrassing, especially considering the financial situation of every Canadian team has improved dramatically in the last decade." The seven NHL teams in Canada "are now routinely the league's wealthiest, paying into revenue sharing for newer markets like Phoenix and Nashville on the basis of lengthy sellout streaks and high ticket prices." Demand has "never been higher, despite that lack of winning a Cup, and that in part has brought a team back to Winnipeg and created a movement for two more in Quebec City and the Greater Toronto Area." Once again, no Canadian team "is expected to collect revenue sharing, not even the Jets." Mirtle wrote, "The why behind this trend may not be any more complicated than simply that these franchise are mismanaged. ... What's too often left unsaid is that with the dollar at par, the Canadian franchises have a significant financial advantage and it really should be showing up more on the ice" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 4/27).
NUMBERS GAME: In N.Y., Larry Brooks noted just "three of the top nine salary cap teams have made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- the Capitals (first), Flyers (second) and Kings (seventh)." The Western Conference Semifinals "feature clubs ranked 22nd, 23rd and 24th under the cap -- the Coyotes, Blues and Predators, respectively." Brooks: "We’re waiting to hear someone on Sixth Avenue construct a cogent argument as to why the current collective bargaining agreement needs be amended in further favor of the owners under the guise of giving 'everyone a chance to win?'" It is "true the cap charge doesn’t equal payroll, and the franchises that carry the league on their financial backs ... can front-load and erase mistakes when other teams cannot, or will not." But it is a "canard that spending ensures success" (N.Y. POST, 4/30).
DEAL OR NO DEAL? In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe notes with the NHL's CBA set to expire in September, anything from a "smooth agreement to a work stoppage is in play." There is a "sentiment from players that, unlike in previous negotiations, they will emerge on a more even playing field following this deal." Penguins LW Steve Sullivan said, “We made a lot of concessions in 2004. (Owners) got everything they wanted. I don’t know what they could ask for this time.” Yohe writes, "This much is known: Many players are expecting the start of the 2012-13 season to be delayed" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/1).