Tag: bounty

Glen Gulutzan

Gulutzan has never seen a bounty program in the NHL


When news about the NFL New Orleans Saints’ bounty system broke out, which was a rule breaking program that rewarded players for injuring opposing players, sports fans could only hope that this was an isolated incident. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan weighed in on Thursday to say that he’s never seen any evidence to suggest that a similar program exists in the NHL.

“I have never heard of it in my days being around rinks. I’ve never seen it. I don’t think it’s a problem,” Gulutzan said. “There’s no internal, ‘Let’s get this guy’ talk. But they know who the best players are, and come this time of year, they’re going to play them hard. Sometimes that crosses the line, and sometimes it doesn’t. But as far as something organized, I’ve never seen it in hockey.”

Dangerous hits are still a point of concern and the NHL has been dealing with them on a case-by-case basis. On Friday, for example, we might see Duncan Keith get handed a big suspension for his hit on Daniel Sedin. However, bounty programs are a much different beast and hopefully the Saints program is the only one that was out there in professional sports.

Shanahan has big decision to make with Keith elbow


Brendan Shanahan and the NHL’s disciplinary decision-makers face a big call whenever they determine a proper punishment for Duncan Keith regarding his elbow on Daniel Sedin.

The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman is a one-time Norris Trophy winner while Daniel came just short of winning a Hart Trophy like his brother Henrik last season. Combine the high-profile status of the two stars, Sedin’s indefinite absence and murmurs of it being a premeditated hit and it only makes sense that Nick Kypreos reports that the meeting might come “much later” than the original afternoon appointment.

The Vancouver Canucks already won a game (2-1 against the Dallas Stars last night) with Daniel Sedin on the sidelines, but the Blackhawks won’t play again until Sunday. Shanahan might want to take advantage of that gap, as The Globe & Mail’s David Ebner points out the high stakes.

The decision on Keith will be one of the bigger calls this season by NHL senior vice-president Brendan Shanahan and the newly created department of player safety. The Keith-Sedin situation involves two of the league’s best players and what appears, at least on tape, to be a fairly deliberate elbow to the head.

The NHL appeared to endorse the staged brawl between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils on Monday, playing highlights prominently on NHL.com. Then came the NFL on Wednesday and its hammer on the New Orleans Saints for three years of bounty hunting. While the situations vary in severity, the NFL was unequivocal in its decision. The NHL’s enforcement, on ice during games, and in head-office reviews, seems to ebb and flow.

In other words, this is a chance for Shanahan to make a statement, although one can bet it won’t be anywhere on the suspending a Super Bowl-winning coach for a full season level.

While we await Shanahan’s tough call, share your thoughts. What kind of punishment does Keith deserve? Will this decision become a “yard stick” for future calls?

NHL to fine Maple Leafs for Ron Wilson’s locker room “bounty” against San Jose

Toronto Maple Leafs v Los Angeles Kings

We’re not often privy to what goes on inside an NHL locker room. HBO’s 24/7 was a distinct change in that manner of doing business, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are learning a bit of a hard (and stupid) lesson about letting internal matters get published in the local papers.

When the Leafs beat the San Jose Sharks the other night, Leafs coach Ron Wilson was shown on camera breaking out a wad of cash, $600 worth, walking back to the Leafs locker room with Francois Beauchemin. That cash was destined to land in the wallet of Carl Gunnarsson who score the game-winning goal. $600 seems like a funny number to pick out, but in this case it was appropriate as the victory was Ron Wilson’s 600th in his career.

Why was Wilson making it rain during post game? It’s simple, the Sharks are the team Wilson used to coach before coming to Toronto and as is somewhat typical in games involving a player’s (or coach in this case) old team, getting the game winner nets you a bit of cash internally.

That locker room gamesmanship doesn’t usually get talked about in the papers or discussed in public and today, we’re discovering why that is because the NHL frowns upon seeing cash being bandied about after a game and will reportedly fine the Maple Leafs for the coach’s “bounty” for victory. Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail discusses the league going a bit over the top in keeping up appearances.

The problem that I foresee is that the league has – to its everlasting peril – now decided to draw a line in the sand for an act that has been commonplace for years. Coaches do it occasionally, but 90 per cent of the time, it’s a player that puts the money up – say, when Dany Heatley goes back to play Ottawa for the first time, he would post an incentive for whichever new teammate helps them win against his old team. And while a player offering up dollars from his own pocket might not be a CBA or a salary-cap violation, surely it must contravene some internal gambling regulation within the league – and run afoul of NHL policy as well.

It’s a slippery slope indeed with the NHL cracking down on these silly side bet shenanigans. After all, Wilson offering up virtual pocket change for a professional athlete in netting the game-winner doesn’t compare to the bounty accusations we’ve seen in other sports.

In the early 1990s, then Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan faced criticism when he supposedly offered up a bounty to anyone on his defense who injured Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman during an upcoming game. At least with Wilson, there’s no actual harm being committed here. It’s not as if he turned into a modern-day Reggie Dunlop offering money to put Dany Heatley or Joe Thornton in the hospital.

These sorts of things go on in locker rooms all the time amongst players but when you’re a team that plays in a hockey-crazed city like Toronto every move, no matter how big it is, gets noticed and discussed and over-analyzed. In this case, seeing raw cash changing hands on camera raises more than a few eyebrows and the NHL is just looking to keep up appearances.  At the same time, I’d hope the league is smart enough to just let boys be boys when it comes to breaking up the monotony of a long season.