Gary Bettman’s reign as NHL commissioner appears as though it will continue on into the next decade.
According to a report from Hall of Fame scribe Michael Farber, Bettman has signed a contract extension that will keep him in his current post through 2022.
Bettman has been commissioner of the NHL since Feb. 1, 1993 when he was hired from the National Basketball Association. Bettman was the NBA’s senior vice-president and general counsel before moving over to the NHL. He became the league’s first commissioner after replacing Gil Stein, who was its last president.
Should Bettman fulfill the terms of his extension, he would rank as one of the longest-serving first-in-commands in professional sports history.
His new deal takes him months shy of his 30th anniversary as commissioner. Sportsnet’s John Shannon notes that NHL president Clarence Campbell worked one year longer. Bettman’s former NBA boss David Stern was commissioner for exactly 30 years when he stepped down in February 2014.
Under Bettman’s watch, the NHL has expanded to 30 teams from 24 and more could be on the way. The league is reviewing applications for new franchises in Las Vegas and Quebec City, although he noted repeatedly Saturday there is no timeline on a decision. NHL players have also participated in the Olympics since 1998 and outdoor games went from a trial event to becoming commonplace.
However, he has governed during three lockouts, including the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. The NHL and NHLPA both have the option of opting out of the current collective bargaining agreement before the start of the 2019-20 season.
NHLers spend most of their youth climbing the ranks, making sacrifices and pushing themselves to the limit just for a shot at the big time. When they finally get there, the reward is the opportunity to play in the best league on the planet – and to get paid handsomely for it. But holding onto that money isn’t always easy, which is where professionals such as Roman Fradkin come in.
A wealth advisor with RBC Dominion Securities in Winnipeg, Fradkin works with around 20 NHLers, including Jonathan Bernier, Dale Weise and Alexander Burmistrov. His mission is to make players see the light when it comes to saving and investing the right way, because a pro athletes’ earning window may be lucrative, but it’s also small. “You’ve got six or seven years to make 50 years worth of money,” Fradkin said.
If the Los Angeles Kings are betting on Vincent Lecavalier’s sense of integrity and his word, and they are, then they’re betting on the right guy. Lecavalier’s all-world talents have declined to be sure, but one thing that has not is his reputation of being a man of his word and an all-round stand-up person.
So when Lecavalier assured the Los Angeles Kings that he would retire after this season, thereby making it possible for the Kings to acquire him and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday, that was obviously good enough for the Kings. Because the fact is, Lecavalier could throw this entire thing off the rails by waking up tomorrow morning or any other between now and the end of this season and decide he actually wants to keep playing beyond this season and there’s not a thing the Kings or Flyers could do about it.
On the heels of two high-profile arrests, and an acknowledgement that recreational drugs are increasing in popularity, the NHL and NHL Players Association have reportedly begun talks aimed at adding cocaine to the league’s list of banned substances.
The report from TSN’s Rick Westhead said the NHL is acknowledging and trying to address increased use of cocaine among its players. In April, former Kings, now Rangers, center Jarret Stoll was arrested in Las Vegas for cocaine possession. He pleaded to two misdemeanor charges in June and signed with the Rangers in August. In April 2014, former Lightning left winger Ryan Malone was arrested for DUI and possession of cocaine. He was not convicted.
In the TSN story, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admits they are seeing increased use of “party drugs.”
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly told TSN in an interview. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.
“I’d be shocked if we’re talking about a couple dozen guys. I don’t want to be naïve here … but if we’re talking more than 20 guys I’d be shocked. Because we don’t test in a comprehensive way, I can’t say.”
More comprehensive testing may be on the way, but adding testing for cocaine would be a collective bargaining issue. Under the current program, players are tested at least twice throughout the season for performance-enhancing drugs, and 60 players are tested during the off-season. Only one-third of all the samples are also tested for drugs like cocaine.
Westhead reported that NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr held close-door meetings with several NHL teams last year to discuss increased cocaine use, and will continue to do so this year.
When Patrick Kane showed up at the Chicago Blackhawks training camp last week, a heated debate began immediately concerning whether or not he should be there.
Those saying Kane had every right to be with his teammates argued that he had not been charged with any crime and deserved the same rights as any other person in any other line of work who faced the same circumstances. Hard to argue with that. After all, the presumption of innocence is one of the underpinnings of any criminal justice system.
If you’re Steve Yzerman, you should have had Steven Stamkos signed to an eight-year contract extension more than a month ago. Same goes for Dean Lombardi and his dealings with Anze Kopitar. It’s simple really. These guys are franchise players. Sign them at the going rate for the maximum number of years and get rid of the distraction.
After all, that’s what Stan Bowman did last summer and he killed two potential headaches with one Aspirin. Faced with a similar situation with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks GM needed exactly eight days to get his two stars signed to identical eight-year deals worth $84 million. Cap hits of $10.5 million per times two represented a bold move, but in reality, the Blackhawks got themselves a deal. Had Toews and Kane played out the final seasons of their contracts and gone on the open market separately, they would have cashed in even more. Read more
It started like any contract negotiation.
Agent Allan Walsh, who represents Jonathan Drouin, David Perron and Antoine Vermette, among many others, sat across from an NHL GM and assistant GM. The group was hammering out a deal for one of Walsh’s clients. They spent 45 minutes discussing staple statistics like points per game, goals, assists and ice time. Walsh, though, wasn’t satisfied. He told the executives they were omitting a crucial criterion.
It just so happened, Walsh explained to them, the player in question was tops on the team in almost every major possession metric, including Corsi and Fenwick. Walsh had his own advanced stat booklet prepared. He fished out two copies.
“I saw them open the first page, and I saw the GM and the assistant GM lock eyes with each other,” Walsh said. “And the look on their faces was, ‘Oh s—, he knows.’ ”
FORT LAUDERDALE – All right, let’s see if we have this straight. If the Arizona Coyotes can somehow keep their disputed lease in effect, the good people of Glendale will be giving money to a team that is paying a guy $575,000 to not play for them and another guy making $3 million who will actually play for them. That will cost them $3.6 million total, a little more than the $3.2 million they were paying to the guy they traded away, who will likely get paid by his new team to not play for it. The guy making $575,000, by the way, will likely be elected into the Hall of Fame in a couple of days and he now works for the league, while still being paid by the teams who are paying him to not play for them.
Only in the NHL. Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes consummated a convoluted trade that saw defenseman Nicklas Grossmann head to the desert in exchange for Sam Gagner and the rights to Chris Pronger. The reason for the deal? The Coyotes will gain $1.5 million to help them get up to the salary floor, since Pronger’s deal is for $575,000 each of the next two seasons in real money and $4.94 million against the cap, and the Flyers will get some relief at the upper level. Pronger will also become the first player in history to be taken off the league’s long-term injury list without actually being activated.
Carry on, then.