NHL board of governors

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NHL Board of Governors conference call reportedly set for Monday

The NHL Board of Governors will hold a conference call on Monday afternoon, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun.

Dreger fills in many of the details:

  • Financial issues are going to be the primary focus.
  • Expanding upon that, there’s the potential for escrow to be discussed.
  • Covering various aspects of the CBA, likely in tandem with the NHLPA, will be part of the primary agenda.

Dreger notes that “everyone is deep in the process of contingency financial planning.”

During a recent Insider Trading, Dreger estimated that the NHL could lose between $500 million and $1 billion depending upon how this goes.

NHL teams face challenging juggling act

In case those dollar amounts didn’t make it clear, the NHL faces a steep challenge.

It would be enough of a challenge merely to figure out how to set up a postseason, if that happened. But it’s not just about that. Bill Daly noted that the league is emphasizing keeping a full, 82-game 2020-21 season in any resumption plans.

The above financial concerns don’t just potentially put a dent in wallets. Depending upon how owners can work things out with the CBA, NHLPA, and other factors, the salary cap could be significantly affected.

And, again, even the more nuts-and-bolts stuff is tricky. If the season isn’t as much paused as it is powered off, how do you handle the draft lottery?

Monday’s afternoon meeting almost certainly won’t be able to check all of those boxes. Even so, there’s a decent chance that the NHL’s Board of Governors might find some answers, or at least get the ball rolling/puck moving.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bettman explains how NHL will handle abuse, other actions that ‘cross the line’

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The NHL’s Board of Governors meetings are taking place this week, so this served as an opportunity for the league to address issues of abuse, including Bill Peters’ racists remarks made toward Akim Aliu, which factored in the Calgary Flames parting ways with Peters.

” … The world is changing for the better,” Gary Bettman’s statement read. ” … Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.”

You can read the entire (lengthy) statement at the bottom of this post, but here are some of the key points.

  • Bettman claims that the Peters situation took the NHL by “complete surprise.”

“There will be zero tolerance for any failure to notify us and in the event of such failure, the club and individuals involved can expect severe discipline,” Bettman said in the statement.

  • Bettman laid out the early details on “a mandatory annual program on counseling, consciousness-raising, education and training on diversity and inclusion” that would involve all head coaches and minor league coaches under contracts with NHL teams, along with other front office members (GMs, assistant GMs, and assistant coaches). Bettman said that the program will be created by “outside professionals” and that the NHLPA and the coaches’ association would likely have input.
  • Bettman explained that the league hopes to create a platform (“perhaps a hotline”) for “a teammate, trainer, or even the player himself” to report incidents, “either anonymously or for attribution.”

When asked, Bettman clarified that there would be anonymity for “whistleblowers.”

Bettman also told reporters that investigations regarding Marc Crawford continue to be ongoing.

Considering that the “outside professionals” involved in a hotline weren’t named, and other details were outlined broadly, it sounds like quite a bit of these initiatives could be considered a work in progress.

Here’s the full statement from Bettman:

As one of the preeminent professional sports leagues in the world and the preeminent hockey league in the world, we recognize and embrace our role in setting an example.

We are now obviously aware of conduct that was and is unacceptable. Whether it happened 10 years ago or last week, the answer must be the same – it is unacceptable.

While we may not have known, the fact is that we as a League – on behalf of ourselves, our teams, and our players, coaches, organizations and fans – must respond in a clear, meaningful and appropriate manner. Professionalism and respect have always been important to the League, but it is now a particularly important time to discuss it because everyone is entitled to a respectful workplace.

The world is changing for the better. This is an opportunity, and a moment, for positive change and this evolution should be expedited – for the benefit of everyone associated with the game we love. And even while change is taking effect, we still must acknowledge things that were wrong in the past. That acknowledgment allows those who were wronged to be heard, and it gives all of us an opportunity to prevent these things from happening again.

Inclusion and diversity are not simply buzzwords, they are foundational principles for the NHL. It’s why we initiated the Declaration of Principles and why we invest so much time and effort, along with so many resources into our Learn to Play and Hockey is For Everyone programs. Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.

So, let me now address how we move forward.

I’d like to convey to you exactly what was said to the Board of Governors during our meeting.

1. We don’t like surprises – the Bill Peters situation was a complete surprise.

Going forward, our clubs are on notice that if they become aware of an incident of conduct involving NHL personnel on or off the ice that is clearly inappropriate, unlawful or demonstrably abusive, or that may violate the League’s policies, involving NHL Club personnel, on or off the ice, we at the League office – Bill Daly or me – must be immediately advised. There will be zero tolerance for any failure to notify us and in the event of such failure, the club and individuals involved can expect severe discipline.

As it relates to incidents involving Bill Peters in Carolina – there seems to be some confusion between statements by Peter Karmanos and Ron Francis, which I still need to sort out. However, I am fairly clear that none of this has anything to do with Carolina under Tom Dundon, who was among the first to call me when Peters’ conduct came to light and he first learned about the Peters physical abuse allegations in Carolina.

2. While I do not believe most NHL coaches conduct themselves in an inappropriate manner – in fact, I believe most NHL coaches are professional and respectful in the way they coach and the profession is not deserving of blanket condemnation because of the conduct of some individuals – however in order to expedite a change in culture and make clear the expectations we have for the conduct of coaches and other personnel, we will formulate a mandatory annual program on counseling, consciousness-raising, education and training on diversity and inclusion.

This program will be required for all Head Coaches, Minor League Coaches under contract with NHL teams, Assistant Coaches, General Managers and Assistant General Managers. We will focus the programming on training and other exercises and initiatives to ensure respectful locker rooms, training facilities, games, and all other hockey-related activities; and teach to ensure bystander intervention techniques, anti-harassment, anti-hazing, non-retaliation and anti-bullying best practices.

The exact structure of the program will be created by outside professionals in the field and we will consult with the Players’ Association and the Coaches’ Association in the program’s creation. We will also discuss with the Players’ Association the extent to which this program or another customized program should be presented to the players. Also, under the direction of NHL Executive Vice President Kim Davis, we will form a multidisciplinary council to suggest initiatives, monitor progress and coordinate efforts with all levels of hockey. The council will also make resources available to help any organization that might reach out for assistance.

3. Inappropriate conduct engaged in by club personnel will be disciplined, either by the team, the League or both. While discipline as always must be on a case-by-case basis – it is my intention that it must be severe and appropriate and designed to remedy the situation and ensure that the conduct does not occur again.

4. In that light, the passage of time is not the most effective way to address these situations. Accordingly, we will create a platform – perhaps a hotline – where instances of inappropriate conduct connected to the NHL can be reported either anonymously or for attribution for us to follow up. It can be any team personnel such as a teammate, trainer, or even the player himself. In this regard, we understand the critical importance of ensuring that no one is retaliated against for raising a concern or participating in an investigation – again either anonymously or for attribution – and I guarantee we will take all reports seriously and follow up. My expectation is that this hotline can function like our SABH hotline, which has been credible and effective.

A couple of closing points:

Not everyone will approve of every coach’s methods. However, there are lines that cannot be crossed – clearly physical abuse and racial and homophobic language cross the line. And while we acknowledge that there may be other actions that could cross the line or fall in a gray area, we hope the program we create, and its attendant consciousness-raising will help better define what is and what is not acceptable conduct and will make for a better playing and coaching environment. Over time, we have been able to change the culture of our game as it relates to substance abuse and player safety. And while we have taken many important steps forward on diversity and inclusiveness, as well as respect and professionalism in hockey, we intend to do more and faster.

Calgary’s response initially to Akim Aliu’s allegations and then the Carolina issue, was timely, professional and appropriate. While none of Bill Peters’ inappropriate conduct occurred on the Flames’ watch, they undertook the important effort to try to understand what happened 10 years ago and thereafter. Once Calgary could satisfy itself as to what transpired, they achieved an appropriate result and I commend the Calgary organization and in particular, Brad Treliving, for their efforts and cooperation. I think it is pretty fair to say that from now on when a Club is hiring a coach, the due diligence a team conducts will go to levels never seen before. And, that is a good thing.

Finally, Bill Daly and I had a constructive meeting last week with Akim Aliu and his lawyers. We heard what they had to say, have initiated our own review and will ultimately determine how we believe most appropriate to proceed.

More big news for St. Louis sports: Hulsizer agrees to buy Blues

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The St. Louis Blues are on the verge of playing one of the most ignored games in their rich franchise history tonight, but their MLB neighbors won’t be the only big news makers on Oct. 28. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Matthew Hulsizer agreed to buy the Blues today.

Hulsizer’s exact stake in the team isn’t clear yet, but Rutherford reports that he’ll be the majority owner.

The NHL’s Board of Governors still needs to put its rubber stamp on the deal, but Rutherford points out that Hulsizer already passed the sniff test when he was campaigning to own the Phoenix Coyotes. In other words, that shouldn’t be an issue.

With all due respect to the desert dogs, owning the Blues is a lower-risk endeavor for the Chicago businessman. The team is showing some solid promise with a roster heavy on young players, but it would be great to see Hulsizer bump up their budget much like Terry Pegula has done with the Buffalo Sabres.

We’ll keep tabs on the sale being made official. Much like a horror movie villain, a done deal can turn into a big headache at the drop of a hat. Still, it seems pretty safe to say that Hulsizer will be the new owner of the Blues.

Winnipeg fans next goal? Sell 13,000 season tickets

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While the euphoria will continue in Winnipeg for the foreseeable future now that True North has announced they’re buying the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Manitoba, fans there have a job to do ahead of the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 21.

While the Board of Governors will meet that day to officially approve the sale and relocation of the Thrashers, it’ll be up to Winnipeg fans to help convince them that they’re a more than viable location for an NHL team. How does one do that? True North wants to make it happen by selling 13,000 season tickets.

During the press conference, True North revealed a website, DriveTo13.com,  to point fans toward to help them plunk down their money towards securing the future of the team in the city as well as showing the NHL they’re not screwing around. Of course, that all comes at a price, and in this case a commitment of time as well as money. Here’s how things break down:

As you can see, there’s an added tweak to the pricing in that for the best seats in the house, to get a season ticket package you’ll have to commit to them for up to five years. Even for the worst seats in the MTS Centre you’ll need to buy in for three years. At least there you can get a half-season package but still… Whether it’s three or five years you’re asking for a lot of time and especially money from fans. If you want a pair of tickets in the top priced seats you’ll need to pay up $58,050 to do that. Needing to throw down $1,000 right off the bat hurts too.

Even for fans willing to get a pair of seats in the “worst” seats in MTS Centre that will cost $10,530 for the three year commitment. We’re figuring buying a pair of seats is more likely than just a single seat so that’s why we’re measuring the numbers out that way. Obviously if you want just the one ticket number is, cut the figure in half.

Fans in Winnipeg have gotten used to AHL prices over the last 15 years with the Manitoba Moose so there’s legitimate concern that the sticker shock will stun some fans into backing off of buying tickets. Doing that, however, might give the Board of Governors reason to pause on approving the sale.

The other part of the team going to Winnipeg is need to prove it’s a viable market for the NHL. Since the MTS Centre is set to be the smallest venue in the NHL next season, they’ll virtually need to be sold out nightly for the team to not end up another potential financial mess. Of course, that possibility is lessened by having billionaire David Thomson involved with the True North group.

For years the fans in Winnipeg have clamored for the return of the NHL, now it’s their turn to put their money where their mouth is. Only thing we wonder about is just how fast they’ll get to 13,000 tickets sold.

Report: NHL officially approves Terry Pegula as new Buffalo Sabres owner

Terry Pegula’s journey to become the new Buffalo Sabres owner might be in “mere formality” mode, but surely they hope to get it done sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the fact that the still-very-much-in-it team finds itself only 10 days away from the trade deadline.

Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 points to a “high ranking league source” who said that the NHL Board of Governors officially approved the sale of the team to Pegula, with an official announcement reportedly coming Tuesday.

As we discussed a couple weeks ago, the team already announced the sale of Pegula for a total of $189 million (including some debts), but it couldn’t be set in stone until the league’s big wigs gave it the thumbs up.

This ownership change comes at a nice time for Buffalo, as the new owner can support (or deny) moves made by the Eastern Conference bubble team during the deadline. We’ll let you know if anything changes, but it appears that the hockey-loving billionaire will indeed be the Sabres’ new owner.