NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly discusses the NHL's 'line in the sand' regarding contracts

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Bill Daly.jpgBy now you may be well-versed in the reasoning behind the rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. To review, his deal stuck out as especially bad considering that his deal had six unrealistic salaried years at the end, the deal would take him to age 43 and those final seasons also mysteriously shifted from no-movement clause years to no-trade clause only seasons.

That being said, the NHL’s “line in the sand” seems to be hidden underneath a sand castle somewhere on a metaphorical beach of confusing puck-based legislation. (To complete this zany metaphor, the league’s rules regarding head-shot suspensions are being devoured by sharks.)

SBN’s Devils blogger John Fischer got in touch with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, widely considered to be the second most powerful league executive behind Gary Bettman. Fischer asked for clarification regarding what exactly determines that “line in the sand.” Read the full article for some context and the full conversation, but here are a few selected bits.

John Fischer: I’ve read and understand the reasoning of Richard Bloch’s ruling that sustained the NHL’s rejection of the New Jersey Devils’ contract with Ilya Kovalchuk. However, between the ruling (p.15-16 in particular) and the broad view of Article 26.3, it is ambiguous as to what the “line in the sand” is now for future SPCs. What would cause a contract to be unacceptable in the league’s view going forward?

I know it was reported two days ago that the league has no issue with Vincent Lecavalier’s contract; so the “line” could be somewhere in between the parameters of both SPCs. However, I’d like your or the league’s opinion on this issue.

Bill Daly: While we do look (and have looked) at each contract individually, your suggested approach is the right one. There are a number of “guideposts” already out there from which Clubs can guide their conduct. No one factor is determinative, but all are important. How long is the contract, what is the player’s age at the time of the contract’s “expiration”, what is the value of the contract in its “back-end” and how does that compare to its “front-end” and its resulting AAV, what are the other relevant structural elements of the contract? All are relevant questions. And while this may sound subjective and ambiguous, its really not that much so. The Clubs are all very familiar with these considerations and know where we draw the line.

[snip]

At this point I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that we may further discuss with the Union to see if “bright lines” can be established. Absent those “bright lines,” it will be on a case-by-case, with existing guideposts established, the GMs understanding our concerns and sensitivities, and always with the ability of the Clubs to reach out to us to dicuss [sic].

My take is that Daly means “guidelines” or “boundaries” when he uses the phrase “bright lines.” (Or maybe he likes using highlighters.)

While Bettman’s right hand man didn’t get too specific, his answers do illuminate the fact that the NHL’s 30 teams aren’t in the dark about the league’s policies. That being said, it would certainly be interesting if the league was a little more transparent regarding their rules, regulations and decision making processes.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

Many believe that hit was legal:

The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

(Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.