Oh draft pick compensation, we hardly knew ye.
At day two of the NHL Board of Governors meetings, the NHL has announced that they will end the short-lived practice of draft pick compensation for hiring coaches and executives from others teams who are still under contract. The rule will officially come to an end on January 1, 2016.
That makes it one-year to the day that the league implemented the rule, whereby a team could ask for a draft pick in exchange for hiring a coach or executive who was either still employed by the team or had been fired by the team, but was still under contract.
The rule was originally intended to be used for the hiring of employees of teams — say Lou Lamoriello becoming general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs while he was still an active employee of the New Jersey Devils. But the rule morphed to include compensation for fired coaches and executives as well, since they were still being paid by the team that fired them — say the Edmonton Oilers hiring former Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who had been fired by the Bruins.
The league will revert to the rules that were in place on December 31, 2014, whereby teams must give permission for a team to talk to a coach or executive who is still under contract. That allows for teams to say no if the person is still an active employee or will allow them to shed a contract if a team wants to speak with a fired coach or GM.
Commissioner Gary Bettman relayed the news, saying he proposed the shift back and once the league explained its position there wasn’t any problem passing the rule change. “It just wasn’t worth the debate, the confusion, the uncertainty that flowed from it,” Bettman said.
Only a handful of teams have been subjected to forfeiting a draft pick for the hiring of a coach or executive. Those picks will not be given back. That is, in part, because the rule was written to exist for one year and then be reviewed. It has been reviewed and will be scrapped at the end of that year.
The teams that this effects include the Edmonton Oilers, who gave up a pick for hiring San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan and one for hiring Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. The Toronto Maple Leafs gave up one for hiring Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock (even though his contract was about to expire) and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello (even though he was being pushed out of his position).
Additionally, the Vancouver Canucks got a pick when the Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella. The Penguins got draft picks from the Buffalo Sabres for hiring coach Dan Bylsma and from the Devils for hiring their AHL affiliate coach John Hynes. Though, the Penguins did not request compensation from the Devils for hiring former GM Ray Shero.
While many who gave up a pick wish it was going differently in terms of their picks, there doesn’t appear to be any bitterness. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan told NHL.com, “It’s unfortunate for us the year in which they tried it out was a year in which we were seeking [a coach and GM], but I can’t complain and look back. If we had to do it all over again we would still go out and do it if we were acquiring somebody like Mike and Lou.”
One executive who was opposed to reverting back to the old way was Calgary’s Brian Burke, but he said that once the league explained its reasoning, there was no push back in the room.
Some had hoped that there was a way to keep the rule, but make it so that it didn’t apply to fired coaches and executives. The league’s feeling was that it wasn’t possible to do that, so it either had to all be kept or all be scrapped.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.