TAMPA — The experiment hasn’t failed yet, but the early returns aren’t good.
That was the message from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Wednesday, speaking to the oft-criticized decision of allowing teams to seek compensatory draft picks in exchange for coaches, GMs and front office executives being hired away by other NHL teams.
“Pleased isn’t exactly the word I would use,” Bettman said, when asked how the system was working. “We put in the policy [for compensation] on January 1, and we’ll let it run a full year before we consider doing anything. At that point in time the options will be to clarify, modify or eliminate it.”
The commissioner explained that, after years of ‘cajoling,’ GMs were finally granted their wish for compensatory picks this year. Bettman’s problem? He says the old system was simple.
This new one has proven to be a little more complex.
The original understanding was that teams would be compensated for losing employees that were, you know, employed. But what’s transpired is that clubs that have dismissed people — Pittsburgh with Dan Bylsma, San Jose with Todd McLellan, Boston with Peter Chiarelli — still received compensatory picks, which opened a can of worms and led to complaints the spirit of the rule was being violated.
To that, the NHL has a response.
“I don’t think based on the conversations that led to the rule it violates the spirit at all,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly explained. “The fact of the matter is, clubs still have the right to deny permission to those employees to talk to any other team based on the terms of their contract.
“So if they have to grant permission in the first place, they should be entitled to compensation.”
In the end, Bettman sounded resigned to the fact that the system’s in place and will continue to be until January 2016. He didn’t rule out revising the policy, but did say pick that have already changed hands will remain that way, adding “what’s done is done.”
“Everybody’s operating under a system — possibly with some adjustments to people’s interpretations — that this is a system that GMs wanted,” Bettman explained. “We’ll see how it works for a year.
“It is what it is.”